I read a great quote on social media the other day and have considered it a mantra for several of my clients of late. Dealing with teenagers and young adults, social media is a tremendous part of their lives. As parents we sometimes find it difficult to compete in a world that is focused on a small screen with ready entertainment. We also become frustrated with the emphasis placed on how “everyone else” appears to be living a life that we would like to inhabit instead of the one we are actually living.
The quote I read was “Don’t compare your behind the scenes footage to someone else’s highlight reel”. What a brilliant way to depict how our society is beginning to view each other, our lives, our relationships, our “being”. We have all met and possibly are the person whose life looks one way on Facebook or Instagram but in person it reveals a much different story.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with social media. It is how we use it and how it affects us that causes us pain. What does it say when we feel envy and jealousy about a friend’s new car pictures; or we look at ourselves and realize that we will never have a grandchild; or the vacation with the spouse of our dreams is not going to happen? How does that feel?
I love seeing pictures of my friends and their lives but I also recognize that these are highlights of their lives. This is NOT their life. These people that are depicted so blissfully happy in the photo have the same struggles as everyone else on the planet…they may have difficulty paying their bills, or have suffered through the illness of an elderly parent, or are going through a very difficult time with their teenage son. But that part is NOT depicted. The midnight phone calls, the angry words, the fearful waiting…those can’t be photographed…they are the behind the scenes footage that creates the character and substance in our lives.
It is not the highlight reel that makes us who we are, it is the moments in life that cause us to dig deep within ourselves, to crash through the depression and grief, to overcome the fear and terror, to rise above the negativity that our world constantly throws at us. Those are the moments that are truly who we are.
For parents, we have a responsibility to make sure that our children are seeing who we are in real life, not who we are on Facebook. We have to make sure that they understand the difference of who they are from what their friend’s snap chat depicts. But you cannot teach what you don’t know yourself. So, as a reminder…focus on the behind the scenes footage and in the end, your character will be your true highlight reel.