On perspective and the deception of social media

Perspective is an interesting concept. The idea that someone’s outlook on a certain event might be entirely different from someone else’s depending on where they stand and who they are — their perspective — is one that doesn’t fail to catch our eye.

We notice it when we turn on the television and see a news piece on police violence that sympathizes with the police. Meanwhile, on the internet, thousands share their personal stories of abuse and mistreatment.

We notice it when we speak to our relatives, people who, by the laws of flesh and blood, are meant to be like us, but because of their past experiences, display opinions that differ from ours in such a dramatic fashion, it’s almost like we live on different worlds.

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It’s all about perspective, you see? If I see a couple of flowers growing against a wall, I see a peaceful, quiet scenario. But if someone happens to be on the other side of the wall and they see a dead body, well, excused to say there’s nothing peaceful and quiet about that.

There is, however, one aspect on perspective that we don’t notice as easily as we notice these other moments and that’s the perspective on life acquired from social media.

Who hasn’t, at some point in their lives, stared at someone else’s Facebook or Instagram account and been filled with a burning sense of jealousy? Who hasn’t seen pictures from a party they weren’t invited to and thought ‘I wish I had been there’? Who hasn’t admired their friends’ vacation videos and snapshots of delicious meals, and thought to themselves that they weren’t living life to its full potential? That they were missing all these marvelous things — the gourmet salmon salad, the vacation in Greece, the party at a trendy nightclub that charges an arm and a leg for a drink — and their life was poorer for it.

I think about all of this a lot. On some days it doesn’t bother me. We all live our own lives and we should be thankful for what we have, not miserable over what we’re missing. Not all days are like this for me. Some days just aren’t so good. On those, I can’t even stand looking at my phone because I know if I do, I’ll be filled with nothing but jealously and an overwhelming sense of disappointment at the empty life I’m leading. You’ll find me lying on the floor during these moments, wrapped around myself like a tiny cotton ball, trying to make my 173cm body smaller so I can fit under my desk.

What I don’t remember during these moments is that perspective greatly alters all these pictures and videos that make me feel so  inadequate.

Death_to_stock_communicate_hands_4We share the best of us on social media — the pictures that we know will make others stop and stare, the videos full of laughter that say ‘hey, look at me, I have such wonderful friends’ and the moments that come once a week. We don’t share the solitude, the list of our failures, the burnt pasta and the hours wasted watching reruns of Law & Order. We don’t tell people that, after we took that the gorgeous selfie underneath the club lights, one of our friends vomited on our shoes and the rest of the night was spent in a taxicab going home.

And I’m not saying we should, either. Who wants their Instagram to be full of boring, overly personal pictures? It’s good to maintain a semblance of privacy in a world where privacy diminishes by the hour.

What’s important, in my opinion, is that in our grayest hour, we are all able to remember that everyone has those bad days. Everything we go through is shared and felt by millions across the globe. Our fears and pain are valid and true, whatever they might be. If we do not see others suffering like us, it’s because of perspective, not because we are alone.

All images © Death to Stock

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