If you’ve watched the 2004 movie The Stepford Wives, chances are, you already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, here’s a little intro before I begin. This horror comedy is based in a small town called Stepford, where every wife is “perfect”, and by perfect, I mean exactly that – “perfect”. Every married woman in the town, always has a smile on her face, knows all the right things to say and the right things to do, and is the epitome of everything her man thinks she should be. She cooks, she cleans, she works out, she socialises, she is nothing short of perfect, sometimes cringely so, and at one point, the whole environment makes the sane couple doubt their own normalcy. Stepford wives are the epitome of all things pleasant, graceful, and positive, almost like they’re “too good to be true”. Towards the end, it becomes known, that the perfection indeed was too good to be true, and not everything you see in Stepford, is what it actually is.
As I scroll through social media, glancing at the perfect lives, perfect vacations, perfect relationships, and perfect work life balances of people, I wonder, if I’m in Stepford too, for everything in this world seems flawless. I certainly don’t expect people to post their lowdowns like overworked Mondays, an argument with the spouse, details of their fake sick leaves, or other unappealing aspects of their life that would balance out the perfection. I for sure know, I wouldn’t. But let’s face it, our very human minds, when scrolling through social media, consciously or subconsciously, tends to believe that this is how everyone’s life is all the time – filled with highlights every single day, and by our very human nature, we assume that the grass is greener on the other side.
My cup of coffee never once looked as beautiful and appealing as the ones in my friends’ flat lay do. My vacation selfies are filled with photo bombers from a flood of tourists behind me unlike the serene pictures of sunset by the beach in my feed, my idea of work life balance, is to be able to makeup for all the sleep I lost through the week, and when I catch up with my group of friends, we’re either drunk, tired of laughing, or lost in conversations to be able to pose for that perfect #squadgoals selfie. Does that make my coffee bitter, vacations less fun, and weekends boring? Absolutely not! But do I compare my everyday life with the highlights of others’ social media life? Absolutely yes! As philosophical as I may want to sound saying I am above jealousy and comparison, the truth is, some times, we tend to forget that social media is like Stepford too, and no matter how beautiful our own life is, we end up wondering how is everyone else’s life better than ours.
It’s alright for us to show off our best moments and also to scroll through others’ seemingly perfect lives, but it’s important to remember, that just like you don’t post the struggles before the joy, the hardwork behind the success, the weekday hustle behind the weekends, and the hang over after the epic night out, others don’t either. The idea is not to assume there is negativity behind the happy pictures, but that there’s everyday life and normalcy too behind the highlights, and to compare your normal lives to someone else’s highlights, is unfair to your journey, your happiness, and your wins. Your happiness must not be based on how good it looks on social media, or how does it compare to what others post.
The next time you pose for the tenth time to get that perfect picture like your favorite influencer’s, or keep yourself hungry for a few more minutes to get that food porn picture, or dress for the gram, remember, not every day can be a highlight, no matter what your feed tells you. By all means post that perfect picture, but try living in the moment after that, instead of going back and checking the number of likes you got, and may be once in a while, go on a selfie free vacation or pictureless dinner, to be able to live life, without the pressure of wondering how it looks on social media.
The beauty of life, is that not everyone has the same one. We get to live our own experiences, our own happiness, our own journey. It doesn’t make sense then, that we compare our journey with someone else’s, create stories that would look as good as the others’, construct life and its moments around how it would look in pictures, and in the end, end up having Stepford lives, for it would be perfect, but it wouldn’t be real. Choose authenticity over aesthetics. Enjoy social media, but don’t let it dictate your moments, your memories, your life. Find joy, not just in the highlights, but the everyday struggles too, and remember, what you see may be perfect, but its not the complete picture.