Have you ever met someone after you already “stalked” him or her on social media? It is a bizarre experience. It is usually the case that they are far more than what they appear in real life. More adventurous, more creative, more interesting in general. The other day, I was at the other end of this strange phenomenon—someone recognized me from my profile.
I was meeting some old friends for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. One of them brought along a girl that she had just met. The new girl sat down next to me, and exclaimed, “I know you!”
I don’t think I can express in words the amount of surprise that showed on my face. I had never seen her in my life! The girl kind of giggled at me, and said, as if in explanation, “I stalked you on Instagram the other day.” And then she proceeded to tell me… about me! How cool and creative I am, how interesting my life is, and how I am constantly doing things that she wishes she could do—travelling, hiking, making things. She said she was “soooo jealous” of my life. And then she turned around and talked to the rest of the group while I just sat there, silently stunned.
I will be the first to admit that my life is nowhere near what she described to me. I mean, I crochet hats and scarves while I sit on my couch watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for fun. Occasionally, I will watch Downton Abbey instead. And when things get really exciting, I might just pull out the novel I’m working on and chip away at that for a few hours. On any given Friday night, you can find me in my house, half a blanket crocheted on my lap while I have a Disney movie playing—it’s my Friday night ritual. And I’m usually in bed by 10, at the latest.
So hearing my life described by this girl as this huge, envious adventure kind of made me step back and think about how I am presenting myself, and how people present themselves on social media in general. It seems to me that the goal of a social media profile is to incur some level of jealousy from other people. And I admit, this is something that I have struggled with before. However, I thought I was doing better with it—making sure that I only posted the truth about me, and nothing that could even slightly be construed in another way.
And I started thinking about what this means for me, as an individual, that people see me differently than who I really am because of a few squares I post online. Is this a bad thing? Should I care so much about what people think? Or is this just something that I should let go?
I don’t think the rest of the table that night understood what a tumble my mind was in, trying to wrap my head around the idea that it’s ok if people see me differently than I really am, as long as I know who I am and do not try to dissuade people from knowing the real me. At least, that’s the conclusion I came to. I think social media is one of those things that can be great for some people, fine for others, and downright horrible for a few. It is up to you to choose if social media is something that you can fit into your lifestyle without causing anxiety, dependency, depression, disorders and the myriad of other things that can possibly go wrong when becoming too involved with how other people see you.
It took me a while, but I have found my happy medium with social media, and I am happy with it.