Turns out those “look how amazing my life is!” status updates can be depressing to some people who frequently use Facebook, according to a recent study by Utah Valley University. They tend to believe that others have better, happier lives than their own. Could that be because those people are spending more time reading about what other folks are doing rather than actually doing something themselves?
Or is it that these people haven’t caught on to the art of personal branding? Facebook and other social media sites have moved beyond their seemingly original purpose of keeping friends in touch (and, let’s keep it real, building a mammoth and lucrative clientele to advertise to). They’ve become star-makers, places where those creative or bipolar enough can reinvent their lives or sanitize them to sell a shiny new identity. It’s like going away to college or moving to a different city, except you never have to pack.
I first caught on to social media reinvention after reading the status updates of a longtime male friend who was sensitive, shy and a little awkward around the ladies. He was the type that went out, but he stood on the sidelines, drink in hand, watching the action from a distance. But you’d never know that from his Facebook status updates and Tweets. In his online persona, he was “the man” — the guy who spit game like Goldie in The Mack; the guy who moved in slow motion through parties stopping to exchange dap and double-kiss women’s cheeks; the guy who held court among other men as they all guffawed at his jokes. In other words, his online persona was nothing — at all — like who he was in reality.
I noticed it again with another friend who tweets incessantly about how amazing life is. I don’t knock her, as I don’t want to read sad and lonely tweets about struggle and hardship; I have enough of that in my own life. But she took it to a whole ‘notha level. When we hung out, she’d spend the first five minutes taking multiple self-portraits on her camera phone, sorting through to get the best shot. No matter where we were, even if the spot was empty or lame, she’d tweet about how much fun we were having, or how many hot guys were around. Er?
Of course, this isn’t the case with everyone. Some people are in person who they are online — and they really do live amazing, enviable lives. Either way, if you’re the type to look at another person’s great life and feel bad, how about logging off the Internet and actually doing something so your life can be great too?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk