Silence – or at Least Imperfection – Can Be Golden
Social networks can be delightful ways to catch up and stay connected with friends and family.Â But sometimes, you get too much.Â This older lady’s Farmville obsession, the teenage girl’s angst, that guy’s offensive political opinions: these are the things that they’d probably be sensible enough to keep from you in real-world interactions, but they’re all there in your News Feed.Â I believe that some degree of ignorance is required to maintain most relationships.We’re not always meant to know all of the details.Â There’s a reason TMI is an acronym: It happens so often we needed a way to say it quickly.
Even the good stuff can be overwhelming. As my friend Andy says, “As much as you want to be happy for other people, looking at their gorgeous photos, either of themselves or their wonderful lives, can be disheartening. Hearing only about the parties they attend, the hilarious things their adorable children did, or their successes at their challenging, rewarding jobs can make a person feel inferior.”
As Psychologies asked, “Is everyone else really happier than we are?” It turns out, they’re not.Â It’s scientific fact, apparently: we underestimate other people’s pain and assume everybody else is happier than we are. As a result, we work hard to put on a good front – thereby, it seems, keeping the cycle going for everybody, because then everybody assumes we’re happier than they are.
How sad. We’re all so busy making ourselves sound good, and making each other feel bad by so doing, that none of us feel as good as we could.Â Maybe if we admitted when we were afraid or unsure or just not quite perfect, it would actually make all of us a lot happier.