Try Sharing Just One Bad Moment On Social Media And See What Happens

What if we all decided to reveal a little more truth about ourselves?

That’s a tall order, I know.

For anyone who works in business, runs a company, or has an extensive social media following, working hard and bragging about it seems to be the norm.

After all, you really did put in a 100-hour week and why not let everyone know how awesome that is? You took an amazing photo, why not share it on Instagram?

The problem is that it’s not reality. It’s fake. 

Cal Newport has written and talked before about how mentalism is the process of creating mental images of who you are, how you want to portray yourself, and how you view others. As you can imagine, this requires an enormous amount of brain power. No wonder we’re so tired. We create mental frameworks for everyone we meet, which can be draining.

On social media, however, that is not the case. We’re “mentalizing” a small portion of who we are, and it is often only the best parts of our day, our personality, and our activities.

Too often, the temptation is to report to everyone about all of our fantastic accomplishments. You scored a major deal for the firm, and now you are reaping the benefits. You bought a new BMW (or a really old one, in my case) and can’t stop talking about it.

I’m guilty of this like everyone else. I reach for my phone and snap an amazing photo, then my first thought is to share it on my feed. My first thought is not to create a mental image of what my life is really like, that I often take terrible photos and have struggles like anyone else. I don’t like to share my mistakes.

We know from social media experts that sharing the best moments of life has created a serious problem. For teens and young adults in particular, there’s a sense that none of us can measure up. If we’re all “mentalizing” a small portion of who we are, and that portion is only the absolute perfect moments of our lives, then it is creating widespread depression and anxiety. We’re only seeing 1% of reality.

One study found that teen suicide rates are climbing because young people can’t possibly live up to the perfect lives they see on Instagram and other channels.

My challenge: what if there was something we could do about that?

Before you sneer at the idea or come to the conclusion that we should all air our dirty laundry, know this: I am not saying we should focus on the negative. While that is easier according to science (it takes work to be hopeful and positive), I am saying it is okay to share posts that suggest we’re not perfect.

We didn’t land the big sales deal. The BMW we bought has high-mileage and might not last through the end of the year without a repair or two.

The truth is messy. It doesn’t always add up to a series of wonderful and compelling experiences, despite what you see on Facebook.

The author Ryan Holiday has written many times about how the struggles of life are what makes us human. It’s what makes us who we are. Without the struggles, we’d all be plastic replicas with no actual talents. We would never grow.

By struggling we become real, we grow, and we evolve in our emotions and intellect.

Social media doesn’t show these growth moments, and therefore it can all feel like a complete waste of time. By focusing on the unreality of perfection we’ve created an entire technological framework built on lies. Will you help turn the tide?

My challenge is to start with one post that suggests you are not perfect.

Show the “insider” photos, the ones that didn’t turn out great. Post about your broken car or a flat tire. Tell us you had a big argument with your spouse. Be real.

Tag me on Twitter using @jmbrandonbb and I’ll retweet it, collect some of the best posts, and write about your experience. Let’s do this!

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