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living your best life... for others

Dillon balcom

Have you ever had a conversation with a friend but in the back of your mind you were mulling over how many likes you got on your last post? Is your Instagram feed badgered by the latest fashion trends worn by sleek, elegant bodies or the seemingly perfect lives that your friends live? You might be lying if you answered no. Social media has sold society the notion of a designated perfect life, and the expectations are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

The belief that someone's life is perfect based on their social media stems from inaccurately judging the carefully curated highlight reels of others, which features "only the best and most enviable moments” rather than day to day situations. This can be devastating to the youth, who spend most of their free time on social media. As dubbed by The Stanford Daily, this phenomenon is called the “duck syndrome”, in which the ease and comfort of seeing others succeeding and flourishing leads to internalizing feelings of incompetence and depletion. Similar to the college experience when “everyone is so brilliant to the point where you feel the only way to belong is to subject yourself to extreme habits with the promise of a better résumé”, social media users also feel the need to perform to please others and convince themselves of their own value.

As we become more obsessed with gaining the approval of others, we trap ourselves into a figment of what we believe our lives should be. Through creating an image of idealism that we cannot live up to, we prevent ourselves from being able to genuinely enjoy ourselves. Our lives are more valuable than the posts we endlessly scroll through. Yet, when was the last time you spoke to yourself as kindly as the people in your Instagram comments?

Broadcasting your social media to an audience in hopes for an applause will not give you the satisfaction you are seeking. Real love comes from within and from the people in your everyday lives. Social media was created to share ideas across devices around the world, but today we use it as a crutch. We need to STOP dysfunctionally thinking that our online presence is the end all. Only when we embrace our lives for what they are, can we truly live "our best lives". The fix begins with investing in our real lives, rather than on our social media presence.

(1) Sun, Tiger. “Duck Syndrome and a Culture of Misery.” The Stanford Daily, 31 Jan. 2018, www.stanforddaily.com/2018/01/31/duck-syndrome-and-a-culture-of-misery/.

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