An acquaintance of mine recently broke up with her boyfriend; this would hardly be of any interest to anyone except for her nearest and dearest if it weren’t for the way she had conducted the entire relationship on social media.
You see, this particular couple were one of those couples that posted blissful, couple photos every day and constantly wrote sonnets to each other that would have made Anaïs Nin blush. This behaviour had continued right up till the night before they had both mutually decided they wanted to call it quits.
I spoke to her a little after it had happened and told her that I was very sorry that things had not worked out and that I was surprised that they had not, given how much they seemed to be into each other.
My pleasantries were greeted with a cold shrug as she told me how things had been dead in the water for over a year. I was left with my mouth agape, like a perturbed haddock removed from water. Wasn’t this the same person that had been telling everybody her boyfriend was her soulmate and that they would be together forever just a few days earlier?
Like it or not, and indeed I abhor it, social media has hijacked our lives. In the not-so-distant past, people would meet someone they could stand to be in the same room with for longer than five minutes and eventually court them and marry them.
Like it or not, social media has hijacked our lives
Any photos of them together were few and far between and only taken out to show children and grandchildren how thin and beautiful they once were; nowadays, unless you have at least 450 out of 500 photos with your significant other, people assume that you’re either single or that you don’t like each other that much.
Keeping what I’ve just said in mind, it’s somewhat ironic that studies have actually shown the opposite to be true and that the more posed photos you have together, the more unstable your relationship usually is.
Of course, this is not even really about taking photos but more about the narratives which you are unknowingly or knowingly spinning. Carefully curated photos are all well and good but when you start presenting things which you know or feel aren’t true as facts or presenting a smiling face to the world when all you want to do is disappear into a cave, a slippery slope usually follows. Many now feel obliged to pretend that they are happy and healthy even when they are not, simply because contemporary society has done everything in its power to gloss over pain and suffering. Nothing less than a picture-perfect life is acceptable and if you don’t have that, fake it till everyone else thinks you’ve made it.
When referring to the modern and contemporary novel, novelist Jeanette Winterson knowingly stated: “I’m telling you stories. Trust me.”
Maybe this New Year we should endeavour to live more authentically and question what kind of stories we are telling others and ourselves.