Everyone is going through something. Everyone has good days. Everyone has bad days. During one of my recent Clubhouse conversations, we discussed social media and its effects on children born in the late 90s and early 2000s. This age group was raised with the internet and social media at their fingertips.
A man who was born in 1997 started this discussion. He began by sharing his experience of growing up surrounded by technology and how he works at living his life in reality. He talked about how challenging it is for young people to refrain from identifying with influencers who display a picture perfect facade on social media. The image they portray may be ideal, but we all know that no one’s life is perfect. It is an impossible reality. Hearing his experiences shed light on some of the struggles facing this generation.
People of all ages have a hard time separating reality from cropped and filtered content. For instance, I was following a TikTok influencer who I think is funny and entertaining. During one video, she shared that she had recently lost her son. Someone in the comments asked, “Why aren’t you grieving your son?” The influencer responded, “I am a content creator. That is what I do. I create content to entertain. I don’t share all parts of my life with you. I didn’t share with you the part about when I went and emptied my son’s bank account with his girlfriend. I didn’t talk about getting the death certificate or the other things that I’ve had to deal with, like cleaning out his apartment.”
She is the perfect example of why we cannot compare ourselves to other people. Her story shows us why we cannot judge other people. We truly have no idea what other people are going through in their lives. We must share this information with our children, so they know how to separate fact from fiction. It is important for our kids to understand that social media sites are to be used to entertain us. They are pretend and staged images that are shared. Even my own social media posts are reviewed and retaken if I don't like them. We can't do retakes in real life.
We can be tied to images on social media. But, we need to remember that they are just pictures. They represent a single moment in someone’s life, a moment they have specifically selected to share with you. Viral videos are at most three minutes of a person’s life, which has been recorded, edited, reviewed, and published.
In my opinion social media should be used strictly as a means of entertainment. That’s how I use it and how I encourage my adult daughters to use it as well. Don’t get too hung up on the number of likes, dislikes, or comments, and remember that reality isn’t filtered. I invite you to live your own life by finding ways to appreciate and enjoy the world around you unplugged. You will gain so much satisfaction in life when you quit looking at misleading content.
What I have learned: Posts rarely tell the whole story. Learn to love the real you.
Tania Farran is an educator, mom, business owner, and an author. Her blogs tell about balancing all of these things in life! Laugh or cry with her and maybe learn a thing or two.