love what's yours: a facebook rant

comparison is the thief of joy. such a simple statement, but so hard to remember sometimes.

in the past weeks I've seen people share this Huffington Post piece on "Gen Y" more times than I thought I even had facebook friends. and then some people posted this guy's response. or they posted both! your friends probably did too, right? and then all your other friends dove in supporting or totally against and had epic and sometimes nasty battles in the comments.

I'm the kind of person who tries to stay out of controversial comment wars. I'm also the kind of person who tries not to post anything too controversial. given the places I've lived over my 28 years I've made friends all across the rainbow of political and theological spectrums. I understand that people have a right to post what they want, to exercise their freedom of speech. and I understand some people feel they need to inform everyone else, and others still- just enjoy a good argument. but I don't think I've ever seen a single person be convinced to change their mind/opinion/political position based off of someone elses' facebook comment.

regardless of why people share these things, and why I generally refuse to comment [pun intended] on the situation...

the initial Huff Post piece had a valid point about the construction of artificial or exaggerated "realities" that we see on facebook. something, to be honest, I realized a few years ago while sitting at a bar with friends one evening.

we were talking about facebook and how annoying certain people can be. and how- yes, we admit it- we can be jealous of these people sometimes. "why does she get to go on so many tropical vacations?" or "look at his new car/tv/house..." or "I feel like every day she posts something about how amazing her job is" and we get in the habit of comparing our lives to theirs and it ultimately feels like we are lacking.

stop and consider a few things. first: you are only seeing what this person wants you to think their life is like. they have complete discretion on editing things out and adding things in. what they are projecting as their life is only the highlights they choose, not the whole story. you don't know what is going on in the background, or even if what they say is true.

people lie or exaggerate on facebook for a lot of reasons. they may post about a "great 5 mile run!" that in actuality sucked. they may be depressed and trying to put on a happy face. maybe they are just trying to keep up with the number of "my husband/baby/dog/life is awesome" posts that their friends share. or... they might just be liars.

you also have to think about the things people don't post. if you are having issues with your job, but are "friends" with some coworkers, you likely won't share that information. if you were diagnosed with an illness or going through a divorce, you might want to keep it private. if you are feeling lonely or homesick, but don't want your parents to worry about you living over in Taiwan far from home you won't share that either.

[I concede that there are some people who share these kinds of things, even those who share "generically sad" posts that seem to be fishing for sympathy. but that's a whole other issue.]

think of it like watching a movie trailer. sometimes the movie looks incredible, and then you realize after you see it that they put all the good stuff in the trailer.

and sometimes, people really DO have awesome lives. and maybe they take them for granted [and that annoys us.] here's the thing: we are all individuals. what's important to you is not the same as what's important to me. so when we see others taking for granted the things we value, we get upset.

or maybe someone is thinking their life is awesome but it's not what we would call awesome. I know that not everyone understands what Husband and I are doing over in Taiwan. how could I give up my career? all that money I was making? move so far from family + friends? my stainless steel kitchen and cupboard full of sprinkles? heck... my walk-in closet? it's ok not to understand everyone else. I don't get why people get hair extensions or go on cruises or eat low-fat cream cheese. I mean, I understand why but I just don't get it.

the point is: the only reliable source of happiness is accepting and enjoying your own life and what is around you. comparing to others can only detract from that. you have to love what's yours. something I've been working to remember and attempting to infuse into my way of thinking. and I hope the next time you check your facebook feed, you will too.

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