Social media is a fantastic way of reaching millions of people, a way of providing a community and a platform for sharing ideas and experiences. However, we have to take caution when considering our life in comparison to what we see via these platforms.
We should view what we see on social media as the final film, the version that makes it to the big screen, minus all the inevitable retakes, mistakes and outcuts.
Initially following my diagnosis with RA I found social media particularly unhelpful. I was bombarded with images and posts of people my age seemingly living the ‘perfect’ life. This made it harder for me to accept the bump in my road, had I took a wrong turn? Entered myself for the wrong race? If so I wanted to change my mind, redirect me please, I want that smooth ride over there!?
It is not hard to see why I would feel like this, with popular hashtags such as #livingmybestlife and weekly captions such as ‘Transformation Tuesday’ or ‘Throwback Thursday’ we could be forgiven for thinking that life is linear, a steady progress towards your goal and carefully mapped out. Posts on social media show a snapshot, it shows life on any given day in any carefully selected situation and depending on what version of themselves people choose to share with you. Experience tells me that life is rarely like this.This is just Smoke and Mirrors…
We (humans) naturally tend to show and share with the world our ups rather than downs, showing anything less than a perfect life seeming to be some sort of weakness or failing on our part but the reality is that success, growth and life is rarely linear, there are bumps along the way.
Life for anyone has its ups and downs, for some the highs will be sky high and lows rock bottom, but rarely with no bumps. Everyone’s journey is unique to them. For me I have found living with chronic illness is like cycling the Paris-Roubaix (for those that are not a fan of cycling this is a annual bike race across rough terrain and cobblestones), you get used to the terrain but you can never get complacent as there are plenty of obstacles to navigate. Much like the cyclists having specialised bike frames, wheels and tyres to deal with this, I have adapted to this less than smooth ride of life.
This is partly why I started this blog, to talk about and share the entire bumpy road. It has taken me a while but I no longer feel the need for Smoke and Mirrors, I see the bumps in the road as part of the journey, you cannot separate my successes from my challenges because they are intrinsically linked, both are equal parts of my life and ultimately a part of me.
I do, and will continue to post my successes because I am proud of them, they often come at an expense and personal challenge. For example I completed the Prudential RideLondon yesterday, that has likely used up a weeks worth of ‘spoons’ for me (see my post on Spoon theory).
Every day is not going to be an endurance event day, some days will just be an endurance in themselves. Sometimes I’m going to be fit and able and other days I’m going to have flares or health issues to manage but this is part of my life, it is part of me, it is part of the journey.
So, with social media comes social responsibility. Next time you look at something on social media take it in the way it is intended, it was likely posted to show the best of someone’s life, not the entirety.
We all have ups and downs, good days and bad days, the important thing is to recognise this, recognise life isn’t black and white it is technicolour.
So next time you see someone #livingtheirbestlife or showing ‘transformation tuesday’ know that behind that there will have been bumps along the way, and with a large number of physical and mental illnesses being invisible remember that you can’t always see those bumps.The rest is Smoke and Mirrors.
Just for fun, my social media life vs my chronic illness life 2016-2018 (note combined this is MY LIFE)
(2018 left, 2017 bottom right, 2016 top right).