April 6, 2018

Why do we believe these Insta Lies?

Insta Lies - To what extent does Social Media damage us and our relationships?


Technology nowadays has a lot to answer for, doesn’t it? Yes it’s fantastic, I cannot deny, and we are very lucky to have access to so much exciting and inspiring stuff at the click of a mouse; but today I just want us to just have a quick peep behind the curtains and explore the negative impact it can have…

Today I’m only going to be talking about Instagram and Facebook  - and actually I’m not blaming either of the platforms, I’m really talking about the folk who use them (so Mark Z, please try not to take offence when you sit back with your coffee to read my latest musings).

I’ve worked with many clients who have become increasingly dissatisfied with life (and dare I say in some cases, depressed) because they have developed the habit of comparing themselves and their lives with the people they see online. The two main offenders being self-image and life/relationship envy.

They look at the images being posted on Instagram and cry ‘Look how beautiful she is! So thin! So flawless!’ and then sob into the mirror because they will ‘never look like that’. And they are right - they WILL never look like that. And the person who posted the picture will never look like that either.

Filters and editing software are purporting these images of beauty and creating an impossible dream, which in turn is damaging the self-esteem of people, particularly young people, to such an extent they feel they aren’t worthwhile unless they too have perfect skin and make up and the body of a Barbie/Ken doll. Many a time I have held my head in my hands and wondered what I can do to convince these young people (or even people my age) to see the reality of the world around them.

The same can be said of our lives and relationships. We see our ‘friends’ (I put it in inverted commas because I think many of us can agree that we aren’t actually friends friends with all our friends on Facebook) posts and wonder in awe how they can live such amazing lives…’Oh wow!’ we proclaim! ‘Look how happy Peter and Jane are on their third holiday this year. Ooohhh! They’re in Barbados this time! …But we haven’t even had one holiday yet. Harumph… Our life is crap.’

But what we don’t know, is that Peter and Jane are in severe debt because they can’t stop spending money on holidays and watches and shoes and eating out and gym memberships and expensive gin. So yes, they look amazing on Facebook! But actually Peter doesn’t sleep at night because he can’t afford to make the payments on his credit card this month. And now he has IBS. And a gin problem. And he’s worried that if Jane finds out she’ll leave him for Pat.

We don’t know that though, do we? So we continue feeling disgruntled about our own, boring life where our shoes and watches are from Next and our holiday is one week in France. And we can only afford Lidl gin. But on the bright side our sleep and bowels are fine thanks, we just don’t realise we need to be grateful for that.

I have been a victim of this, you know. I fell for someone’s Facebook/Insta life and believed it was true. In fact I thought I was actually pretty good friends with this person, which just goes to show. I saw them going on camping trips, going for endless walks with son on daddy’s shoulders, going on holidays all smiley and happy, having friends over for BBQs, lots of ‘kissing’ snaps, declarations of happiness and joie de vivre. I remember one day that sounded lovely – they went for lunch at a nice restaurant, followed by a walk along the canal, followed by ice creams on the way back to the car – what a lovely family day out! However, to my huge surprise I heard through the grapevine that my friend and her husband were separating. Whhhhaaaatttt?? My mouth was agape. Why?? I wondered. They have the perfect marriage!

But they didn’t. At all. I met up with her a while afterwards and discovered that actually he wasn’t very nice to her. He spoke to her like dirt, he had been texting other women, he made her feel like crap. So she told him she’d had enough. And that lovely family day out they’d had? Nope. In actual fact they had eaten their meal in near silence, he had moaned about going for a walk because he wanted to get home to watch the sport, and had stopped speaking to her on the way back to the car because she had expressed surprise at the cost of their ice creams. Not the happy day out we had been led to believe…

So, what I’m saying is that what we see on Facebook is the ‘highlight reel’ of someone’s life. It has been termed the ‘Insta Lie’.  It is the story they want to present to the world, to us, the suckers who believe it. It’s the fantasy life they wish they lived and want you to believe they do live.

And naturally, if we fall for our friends’ BS, we are going to either feel that we need to compete by inventing/editing/filtering our own lives, or by feeling crappy about not being as good as them. And I’ll bet my bottom dollar this has even lead to couples separating, because one of them has decided their relationship isn’t enough; it’s not as good as everyone else’s – its lacking and lacklustre, its uninspiring and mundane, its greyscale and prosaic. And we can only conclude that it’s not real love! It’s not what marriage is about! It’s not what everyone else’s relationship is like!

All we do is eat pork chops at home and talk about the dog!! We are boring! We are falling apart! We are rubbish! We haven’t been to Barbados! We don’t have family hiking days! We don’t go out in our expensive clothes and drink expensive gin and get hilariously drunk together!

Oh good grief.

Let’s just give up, we can’t compete; not us.

We need more exciting partners to pull us out of our respective ruts. Everyone else has.

So – you and your partner separate and look for that new, elusive, oh-so-exciting partner so that you too can inspire the folk of Facebook and Instagram. Because after all, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Life is all about impressing other people on social media. We all know that.

Don’t we?

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Rachael Blackmore

Rachael Blackmore is a qualified counsellor and relationship therapist. She focuses on helping you explore yourself and your patterns of behavior in order to find successful, committed relationship with a partner who deserves you! She provides support for men and women searching for The One and wondering why they haven't found them yet.

Rachael believes in the power of relationship: she will build a relationship with you where trust and acceptance facilitate open communication about the things that are troubling you. She is  passionate about her work and committed to helping you explore your difficult feelings and experiences to find a way to feel better and experience life differently. With a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, Rachael works as an integrative  therapist. This means she draws on the Person-Centred approach and  Psychodynamic theory to work collaboratively with you to improve your mental  and emotional well-being.

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