Look outside social media for life’s most valuable moments

Kirby McDaniel

I hate social media. Don’t get me wrong; there are some good things about it. As a public relations student, I see the benefit for brands, events and other economical things. But for the most part, I hate it. I hate the hold that it seems to have over me. There are so many days that I want to just quit it, but then I realize I will miss out on what’s happening in the world and in people’s lives around me. Social media helps me keep up with family, friends whom I don’t see often, or even friends whom I do see often. I feel like I have to be on social media to simply keep up with everyone because it is a primary form of communication.

But social media is shallow. And for someone who craves deep friendships and knowing people to their core, it’s a nightmare sometimes. You only show the good, clean sides of yourself on social media. It’s how you prove your worth to others. Social media says, “If there haven’t been any pictures added of me on Facebook in the past month, then I must not be doing much with my life.” The saying “Pics or it didn’t happen” is such a false reality in this day and age. Why can’t we go to a cool place and appreciate it for what it is and for whom we get to experience it with, without taking a picture to filter and post on Instagram to show how adventurous we are?

Social media fosters competition. It allows us to compete to see who can have the coolest life. It forces us to keep up with others. For example, if you didn’t post a picture of yourself at a cool music festival like everyone else did, how will people know that you also went and had a really awesome time?

Approval has always been something people strive for. But now social media can provide a quantitative measurement of that approval. Social media doesn’t give you a say in how your life is measured; it just tells you your worth. Our lives are measured in pictures, statuses, clever captions, likes, comments, followers, views, favorites and retweets. It tells you what people think of you, how funny, witty, cute or popular you are, and how great your life is in the eyes of other people.

But you know what social media can’t measure? How great the coffee that you posted on Instagram actually tasted. It can’t measure how fruitful that conversation was with the person you were sitting across from when you took that picture. Social media can’t measure how amazing 75-degree weather and clear blue skies feels on your skin. It can’t measure how much the music affected your soul at that concert where you took a picture and spent 20 minutes trying to think of the wittiest caption to achieve the most amount of likes.

I’m not saying those things are bad, but I am afraid that we spend so much time evaluating ourselves based on what a number of likes on a picture says about us that we miss out on those special moments that caused us to post pictures in the first place. We forget what really matters in life, what really gives our life meaning.

It doesn’t show you the genuine, deep conversations you have in a long car ride with a friend, the first kiss that makes your heart leap, the adrenaline you feel cliff jumping, the excitement you feel when your favorite college team wins the national championship and it doesn’t show the uncontrollable laughter you experience with your friends at 4 a.m. when you have been studying all night and finally hit delirium. Social media doesn’t do justice to that sunrise no matter how many filters you add to it. But those are the moments we remember, right? We reminisce on those things, not how many people liked the picture.

Social media doesn’t show the tears, the heartache, the pain, the hurt feelings, the sin and the messiness in life. It doesn’t show you holding your friend as she cries in your arms after she has had her heart broken by the boy she loved. It doesn’t show the pain you feel after losing a loved one to suicide or cancer. It doesn’t show the regret you have after letting your selfishness and sin hurt someone you care about or the sweet grace and forgiveness they offer you in return.

That’s reality. And social media can’t measure that. It can only offer glances through a filtered lens into a false, ideal world that we want others to see about us. But it’s not reality. And I’m not interested knowing your “perfect version of yourself” that you want people to see. I want to know you for who you are. I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly, because I want you to know that about me, too. I want to know that I can be accepted for who I really am, and I want to love you even though I know the ugliness in your life. That’s freedom. That’s living. Everyone has their own reality with their own victories, their own hardships and their own ordinary things. We should be proud and thankful for every aspect of our lives, because it’s our own unique realities that shape and define us.

McDaniel is a public relations senior from Houston.