Social Media Circus Mirrors

Warning: objects in the social media mirror may appear happier, shinier and thinner than they are.

The concept of the ‘perfect life illusion’ propagated via social media is not a new one.

We’ve all scrolled the stream of perfect lattes, artfully arranged desserts and flawless post-workout selfies , and no doubt posted a few ourselves.

Every business is booming. Every family is joyous. Every complexion flawless.

Waistlines are deflated, incomes are inflated.

Hashtag love my life
Hashtag blessed
Hashtag no excuses
Hashtag coconut water
Hashtag freedom business

We all know it’s an illusion, yet remain complicit for fear of spontaneous social media combustion.

We flare our nostrils at the humblebrags. We think “wanker” but we comment “smile emoticon”. We believe ourselves different, yet still click on that favourite photo filter before posting.

And beneath the shiny surface of our social media illusion lies the seething mass of insecurities, double chins, microwave meals, hangovers, screaming children and unpaid bills that constitute reality.

I’m no different, and certainly no better. I write this at 4pm on a Sunday, in bed, in my pyjamas, as I have been all day, mildly hungover, with Gossip Girl on in the background. The most I achieved today was cleaning out the cat litter. Perhaps I should post a picture on Instagram. Hashtag cat shit.

Social media allows us to present a heavily edited version of life, creating a disconnect between what’s real and what’s shared, a grey-area disconnect where the lines can blur so much it becomes difficult to identify, even for ourselves, where reality ends and enhancement begins.

We’re walking through an online hall of circus mirrors where everything is distorted. And it’s making most of us utterly miserable.

What are we afraid of? Is it that others will judge us, the way we’re privately judging them?

Do we just want to believe in the shiny, happy illusion, because the alternative is to face imperfect reality?

Brave, clever and funny souls are thankfully starting to emerge, sharing the imperfect reality of their lives through the much healthier filter of humour.

One of the many reasons I adore Ricky Gervais is for his shameless sharing of grotesquely real bathtime photos. Ricky’s built an empire out of pointing and laughing at the absurdities of human nature, and he’s not afraid to point the finger at himself.

My brave, clever and funny friend has recently started a blog documenting the painfully hilarious realities of motherhood.

I admire and envy Ricky and my friend, much more so than I admire and envy the yoga posers and business bluffers. I aspire to being able to put myself out there as courageously and humourously as they do. But I’ll admit to still having one foot in that self-imposed cage of fear: the opinions of others.

“You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” — David Foster Wallace

Why not throw the doors open on that hall of mirrors, embrace and acknowledge the distortions - both flattering and self-deprecating - and laugh long and hard at our absurdities?

Maybe you’ll lose a few ‘likes’, but you’ll regain your sense of humour.

Hashtag note to self.