Back in 2007, when Facebook was the main social media platform, it was such an exciting opportunity for me to be able to share my photos and memories with family and friends. Fast forward to 2019, I never imagined that my PhD research (about the Image of Women) would be that relevant to the image age in which we live. Now, it has become all about keeping up a good “image” on social media. It's become a constant source of anxiety and urgency to check for notifications, messages, social news, and updates...etc. Before social media, image was more about establishing trust with people and maintaining good reputation in society. Nowadays, image encompasses far more than the aforementioned constituents. It involves beauty, fashion, regular travels to cool destinations, professional photoshoots, stylists, hairdressers, estheticians, frequent visits to plastic surgeons, plastic surgeries, and the list goes on.
I thought that having grown up in Lebanon was challenging for me as a female in terms of society's expectations to always look presentable, accomplish big things in life--educationally and professionally, find a great husband, start a family, and juggle all of the previous expectations while raising kids and being a perfect wife, professional, and homemaker. Little did I know that social media will add new challenging, unrealistic standards to the already overwhelming standards' list. Even a Renaissance woman did not have that long of a standards' list, and women couldn’t keep up even in a more simple age. How could we keep up in an age of constant distractions, triggers, and ups and downs in a globalized world: where borders are merely geographic map lines and where we can instantly book a flight from the comfort of our room on our phones and hop on an airplane to travel to the most remote island? If we used to worry in the past about a street, neighborhood, village, city, province or country; now we worry about the whole entire globe. Before we can fully recover from the effects of certain disasters, we get hit by an overwhelming number of new catastrophes. Our brains are too busy and overwhelmed to think clearly; we have too much noise in our head, so we find ourselves surfing the web and wasting hours on social media for temporary, seeming relief.
Before we know it, the day and night go by; we look at the time, and it’s way beyond our sleep time. The feelings of regret, despair, and disappointment hit us hard. We start to play our daily destructive record:
- I am not as beautiful as her
- I am not as accomplished and successful as her
- I am not enough
- I am gaining weight
- I haven’t been traveling like her
- I don’t have a perfect life like her
- I don’t have a perfect family like her
- I don’t have a perfect husband like her
- I am not as young as her
- I am not as rich as her
- I am not as lucky as her
- I am not as happy as her
How can we be happy when we spend our life comparing ourselves and everything that we have on a daily basis with everyone else on social media?
How can we empower ourselves to become a better version of who we are when all that we do all day long is put ourselves and all of those around us down and raise others about whom we know nothing?
We are simply setting ourselves up for failure and simultaneously beating ourselves up for not accomplishing much. How can we accomplish anything when we are speaking failure and unhappiness into our lives every single day? We think that the whole world is happier than us, and we start loathing ourselves and everything that brings us challenge and pain. This "pain and challenge" combo is a fuel to be used for igniting our determination and resilience to reach the highest levels of our potential and to be in peace with ourselves. Don't waste this fuel; set it instead on fire and live an exceptionally significant life where we add value to people's life wherever we go. Build real connection with people. As human beings, we crave connection, as it brings us so much happiness and significance for our existence. Live; do not merely exist.