In October 2012, the tv show Criminal Minds did an episode about a serial killer who was targeting families that portrayed these perfect lives on social media but were falling apart in reality. Which brought to mind several questions.
Are we faking perfect to other people?
Should we be faking perfect to other people?
What are the consequences of faking perfect?
Here are my thoughts on those questions. Please, feel free to share yours.
Are we faking perfect? The answer to that is easily found. A scroll through Facebook will quickly make you think that everyone you know has a better life than you do. No one else’s husband leaves his dirty underwear in the floor. No one else’s wife is too busy for sex. No one else’s kid threw a tantrum in Target. No one else suffers with insecurity, depression, addiction, failure, weakness. You are the only one. You are the only one with struggles. You are the only one with pain. Questions. You are alone. And so…. You take a deep breath, and, through a haze of tears, you post about your perfect life too.
Should we be faking perfect? That is tricky. I said I was going to answer these questions, but this one might require a politician’s answer. No, we shouldn’t. When we start doing that, we get stuck in this never-ending cycle. Not only do we post perfect on our social media sites, but then we start faking it to everyone. We walk around with our fake smile plastered on, we tell everyone how wonderful life is, and we fall apart every time we are alone with the doors closed. However, I do not believe that social media, with its myriad of acquaintances that I may or may not know well, is the place to lay out all of our problems. The fight my husband and I got into yesterday should not be on display for all to see. Some things are very personal. There must exist, somehow, a happy medium. A way for us to be honest about our lives without getting too personal in an inappropriate setting. I’m just not the one who knows where or how to find that happy medium.
What are the consequences of faking perfect? The consequences are that you are left alone in your imperfect life, left to deal with your struggles and fears alone. People don’t reach out to each other. No one offers or accepts support. And we all deal with our very imperfect lives on our own. Here’s an example: For years, I was a single mom. I felt loneliness, hopelessness, rejection, fear, failure. I dealt with all of the ups and downs of parenting alone. There were very few people saying to me, “I’ve been there, I know the emotions you’re going through, try this.” So… I’ve been a single mom. I’ve felt loneliness, hopelessness, rejection, fear, and failure. I’ve dealt with ups and downs of parenting alone. And I have no one to reach out to and say, “I’ve been there, I know the emotions you’re going through, try this.” Because no one talks about it. No one asks for help. Everyone’s life is perfect.
To be clear… I don’t think we should all sit around and complain about our lives. There is almost always someone who has a worse lot in life than you do. I DO think we should not be ashamed to ask for help, to admit when we are struggling, or to take a moment every now and again to ask, “Why me?”
And we should NEVER make people feel shame for being strong enough to ask for help or admit that they are struggling with something. In this perfect world, that takes more strength than faking your next Facebook status.