I recently saw one of my favorite influencers post about the end of her long- standing relationship. Come to think about it, I have been so invested in her life that this break up has had a shockingly profound impact on me. I mean, they were perfect, living their perfect lives, inextricably intertwined. I watched their beautiful pictures and videos, read their romantic captions word to word, all the while fantasizing the relationship that appeared to me so wholesome and healthy. In contrary to my experiences with ‘Love’, theirs seemed ‘absolute’, something to strive for, you know, the quintessential love, the ultimate relationship goals.
So, you can imagine why the break-up came as a shock to me. My eyes were swimming in tears as they ran through the words like ‘hardship’ and ‘heartbreaks’; words that were spread across the post announcing the break-up. I felt really miserable knowing that the couple I revered was no longer a couple. But, for the first time since I had followed this person, I could actually relate to her situation. Words like ‘heartbreaks, hardships, trial and error, moving on’ sounded more familiar to me than those like ‘vacations, cuddles, beaches, sunsets and hashtag couple goals’.
Lately, I have exposed myself to a lot of content in social media. One minute I am watching ‘A month in Bali, my travel experience’ in YouTube and the next minute I find myself randomly scrolling through TikTok. And when you’re consuming content of all sorts from all across the world, it’s genuinely hard not to feel jealous and incompetent yourself. The person on the side of the screen appears to be living a life adorned with the jewels of accomplishments and luxury, the life that you might never get to live and yet you so dearly want to. I mean, I want to be that person spending my month in Bali! That’s what I am talking about. There is no end to this comparison which ultimately leaves you feeling not only unfulfilled but also mentally exhausted.
In my case, the jolt from that break-up post was necessary to bring me back to my senses, to make me realize that the people on the Internet are real and go through real life issues like we do. It appears airbrushed when they put anything onscreen because it’s their job and they ought to do their best at it. Imagine taking pictures for your photo album; you would want to capture the best of moments, the prettiest poses and now that’s how I feel social media works too. The failures, heartbreaks, insecurities get neatly tucked behind the camera.
These days, I have seen relatively more people talk about their insecurities, failures and mental health on the internet. Speaking about their vulnerabilities with millions of people must be pretty taxing. But it also brings this one million back to earth. Life on the Internet undoubtedly seems very pretty, but it also takes a tremendous amount of work, practice, patience and failure that frequently goes unmentioned. It is so much more than those beaches in Milos and the pretty houses in Santorini, so much more than the airbrushed pictures and unrealistic relationship goals. It is real.