Social Disguise

Social media can be a real pain at times. I’ve been catching serious chest pains from the things I’ve been seeing on SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter lately.

It seems like everyone else’s lives were together and mine? Laughable.

#RelationshipGoals #CareerGoals #LifeGoals

You name it, I saw it. Everyone’s lives seemed to be ‘lit’ and there I was trying to figure out how to pin things on a vision board. I even looked down on my vision board for a while because,

“Other people’s goals are manifesting and I’m still struggling…I’m stagnant.”

But a month ago, something started to happen. The truth, behind all the posts and Snaps about different people, started to come out. Not in a malicious way, either. Some of these truths even came from the very people themselves. From relationships to jobs to life as it is.

What actually triggered this blog post was a conversation I was having with friends yesterday. We were discussing the transition into ‘adulting’ and started speaking about life after the island. The island being Cyprus. I mentioned how I found it awesome that some people were flourishing on this island, legally. Zero worries. Happiness. You know? Only to find out that things weren’t what they appeared to be. At all. I was taken aback.

I guess I’d reached my tipping point. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Is there anything we put up that is actually what is going on in our lives?

We say that social media is a place for us to express ourselves. I’m really starting to question that. What does it mean to ‘express ourselves’? One would think it means to show the world who we really are. I’m starting to believe we use social media to express who we wish we could be.

I thought people would exaggerate when they’d make tweets or statuses or even Instagram posts about ‘fake flexing’. Until the number of cases started growing and growing and now I’m here checking my own accounts, trying to see if I’ve fallen into the trap too.

Relationships I thought were the epitome of ‘Goals’ were facades and there were the partners telling me themselves. Folks celebrating years of being together, but they’re both entertaining young’uns and old ones in the private messages. Single folks overcompensating for not having a partner because…pressure.

Never mind the need to constantly post pictures and posts about the ‘moves’ we’re making. I fell into that trap hard. Set up my laptop, type a couple of paragraphs, pull out my phone and take a picture for all the people on SnapChat to see. I’d see everyone posting about their meetings and promotions and ‘no sleep’ movements and I’d feel so inadequate. So I’d push myself to work harder so I could join in on showing strangers and friends how well my life was going.

Many times I’ve wanted to break my ‘keep-my-life-to-myself’ rule and post very personal things. Thank God for reason. Thank God for reason, I’m telling you.

I recently finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book, Americanah and that had me side-eyeing a lot of people too. It had me thinking. How many students are living overseas, facing flames there but posting pictures of the rare amazing times they experience so people can see that they’re ‘living the life’. Once again, I am guilty of this. North Cyprus is not the most amazing place on the planet, but I used to try and act like it was just as good a place as the UK or the US. I’d glamorize my experiences and conveniently ‘forget’ the challenges and constantly adjusting to the extremely different manner of living here.

Now? I don’t mind if you see the random patches of underdeveloped areas next to the streets I wander. I’m not shy to complain about how students are mistreated at times. I don’t keep quiet about why I chose to transfer from the first university I ended up at here. When parents of high school kids ask me about this place I tell them the live: Cyprus is a nice place, but it requires a lot of adjusting and a hell of a lot of strength. The culture shock can throw you off completely if you are not prepared.

Spending so much time observing people’s lives can really mess you over. Messed me over. Corruption exists here, like it exists everywhere in the world. Some fellows here attained their wealth through this corruption. They flaunt it. It’s everywhere. People don’t really say much because they fear these guys. No one wants to be threatened…and some of these chaps are creative with their threats. Anyway. I have some of them on my social media. Curiosity got the better of me. And it dealt with me. Seeing guys living ‘the life’, happily, carefree. Thanking God for their spoils. Turning it up. Changing houses the same way they’d change clothes. Buying cars like their prices mean nothing. Spend enough time observing their lives and you get so filled with pain…with envy, actually…you forget about how they got their money in the first place. It takes a lot to come back down to earth sometimes, especially on the low days.

Questions do come up. “Why am I struggling and they’re flourishing?” “What’s the point in trying to do things the right way?” “Where’s my big break?”

I could be a liar and say those thoughts never cross my mind. They do. A lot. Sometimes I ask God why I wasn’t born with a trust fund just waiting for me to access it. Why my business ideas were taking so long to bring in funds. Why Cyprus. Why me.

But in the cloudiness and craziness of it all, sense returns. Slowly. Steadily. I guess that’s why the truth about a lot of painted lives have come to surface. To remind me that not everything is what it appears to be. I don’t take delight in it, though. I don’t find it pleasing to know that some people are miserable. I can’t gloat or rejoice because I know that person or those people must have a lot going on inside of them for them to find it necessary to pretend. Maybe pretending is their way of escaping the madness in their own lives. Maybe the mask isn’t a theatrical one. Maybe, to them, it’s their oxygen mask – giving them what they need to survive.

It’s easy to throw shade. I tend to take the rocky path of trying to understand. Even the “shallow”, have pain they deal with.

Who am I to judge…

Who are we to judge…

We can try play righteous and act like we’ve never had a petty moment of showing off ‘what’s good’ as a form of escape. Then again…maybe it’s not that deep for all of you. Maybe you’re genuinely secure about your life. That is awesome. I applaud you. I’m trying to get there too. Trying to learn to enjoy my life without using the misery others go through as means of encouragement.

I just hope that one day…we’re able to really express ourselves. It is happening. Day by day people are being more open about how they’re feeling. People aren’t as afraid anymore to say that they are not okay. People are speaking about their struggles and they are connecting. Bonds are forming. Slowly. But it’s happening.

I hope it keeps growing.

Lord knows we need it.