In the midst of mindlessly watching my Instagram stories, instead of getting meaningful things like journaling or calling my grandmother done (as you do), I suddenly realised: everyone is trying to sell me something.
And yes, I know: “welcome to the party, hun; you’re 2 years late…”
But just knowing the issue doesn’t make it any easier to deal with- the right way. And here’s the twist: it’s not just the posts splattered with ‘paid partnership’ and tagged with #ad that are trying to sell you things. It’s the perfectly edited pictures of sand and sun and beach fun. It’s the pictures of couples holding hands and baking in perfectly marbled kitchens. It’s the boomerangs of flowy dresses shaking in rewind in front of a big sparkly birthday spread.
They’re not selling you the dress or the sand or the man with the perfect twinkle in his smiling eyes (that would be illegal). Here’s what they’re inadvertently selling you: the greener grass, on that ever-illusive magical ‘other side’.
But this isn’t a rant about the downfalls of social media. You can’t blame an inanimate entity for the downfall of its abusers. It’s not Instagram or Facebook that are the issues; It’s us. Blaming someone else for our own issues is the easiest road to never getting out of this vicious cycle.
Because here’s the thing: even the ones who opt out of social media; who check their socials once a week for the occasional meme or parody video; who leave notifications unread for weeks on end- even they still feel jealousy and gluttony. They still want what they don’t have.
While, yes, social media did amplify our feelings of constant FOMO- on vacations, relationships, and potential six-packs- like a junkie’s mind on cocaine, we all inherently have the toxic curiosity to peak over the fence and marvel at everything we don’t own in our own backyard.
We have a never-ending interest in the other. A perfectly full stomach can be tempted to have that extra piece of cake- because “what if it tastes better than the other 5 you’ve already had?”
A quick trip to the shopping mall can be turned into an overdraft and one too many automatic text messages from your bank telling you how much you shouldn’t have spent- because “who doesn’t need a spare snake print skirt or a 10th pair of leather boots?”
A happy relationship can be pushed to crumble like an Oreo cookie left too long in cold milk because of a Snapchat notification from a lover long ago that wakes that inner sleeping monster- the one with “what if?” emblazoned on its forehead.
“What if I could find better?”
“What if I could do better?”
“What if I could be having more fun on that other side of the fence?”
And so, we continue to have one too many drinks; one too many bites; one too many texts from our exes. We carry on seeking the other while turning a blind eye to all that we are already well and truly blessed with.
And you know what? That cake might taste better than the best cake you’ve ever had in your entire life. That snake print skirt and leather boots might be THE outfit combo that lands you your dream job/partner/role in the new Anne Hathaway movie. That blast from the past message might lead to the best night you’ll ever have.
But what if they aren’t? What are you giving up in return?
The sad truth is there is no magical cure to our collective desire for The More and the Other™. You can’t close your eyes and count to 10 and hope the feelings just pass- at least I know I can’t (but odds are, neither can you.)
So, I count my blessings. Literally. If I feel like my hand will fall off if it doesn’t reach for that last cookie, I recall the other 4 I’ve had and remind myself that I’ve had enough to keep my sweet tooth happy. When curiosity- that same old one that killed the cat- creeps in and makes me type my ex’s name into the gram, I remind myself of the blessing I have now, a hundred times better than anything I’ve ever had. I set my intentions- and stick to them. And most importantly, I forgive myself when, every once in a while, I fall off the wagon and buy that snake-print skirt anyway- because “what if”?