There is some statistic floating around that links Facebook with the increasing percentage of people who claim they suffer from depression. Three days ago I would have paused here to roll my eyes. A big eye roll that would have gotten me sent to my room as a teenager. But a few days ago I opened an email which contained a picture of my sister and me and we look - gorgeous. In the picture, we are unusually thin, frizz-free hair, our skin is bronze and glowing, the background scene is magazine worthy, she is playfully leaning into me and we look like the happiest two people who ever called themselves sisters. And this picture was taken at one of the worst times in both of our lives.
Looking at the picture you can't see that the only food I could keep down for months was cereal and almonds or that I was so broke I barely had two pennies to rub together. Looking at the picture you can't see that my sister's husband almost died in a serious health crisis, leaving him unemployed and she holding her family and the roof up single handedly. Looking at the picture you wouldn't know the truth - you would only see the smiles and the hair and pretty background.
When I look at a picture like that, its as if I am peeking into someones window and making up a story about what I see. Mrs. Kravitz (Bewitched) was always looking in Samantha and Darren's windows and could never make sense of what she saw. She spent her life focused on her neighbors across the street instead of her husband Abner sitting in the living room, begging for attention. I am Mrs. Kravitz when I look at my Facebook news feed. When I see the mahi-mahi fish tacos with homemade salsa (from your garden) that you are serving for dinner - suddenly my store bought salsa and ground beef tacos I am serving don't measure up. And our weekend, sitting around playing cards, taking walks, reading and building Minecraft villages was fun until I read about your weekend jaunt to the mountains - hiking, exploring, breathing fresh mountain air. Suddenly my air seems boring and dull and suffocating.
But the truth is - I don't know the truth behind those pictures. Nobody is posting that the mahi-mahi tacos went uneaten because the kids gagged and the husband was "working late" again. Rarely are people posting themselves yelling at their kids to hurry the hell up and get in the damn car because we are going to the mountains as a family and you are going to have fun whether you like it or not! Am I depressed? No. Do I feel envy when I look at my news feed? Absolutely. That is why I visit Facebook from time to time, as an indulgence, like reading People magazine. Most days I know its not real or at the very least, not the whole story. I'm an adult educated woman entrenched in her spiritual life and I get tricked by the illusion of Facebook. And we are expecting our young people to navigate these treacherous waters without emotional consequence? After seeing that picture of my sad, under-nourished, broken, gorgeous self, I now have compassion for those people who take envy and resentment to the next level.
Lori Ann Dinkins
One blog at a time, I write the truth about my life as it is, as I hope it will be, as I wish it would have been. Business insights and personal triumphs. Thank you for joining me.