Left Side Test


Ryan Bircher

Scrolling through the little white lies.

Our generation is full of people pleasers who pretend to not care what other people think.

We have all claimed that we are, “So happy with our lives right now,” or said that, “Everything changed once I stopped caring about what other people think.”

It is a contradiction in and of itself. I mean, if we don’t care, then we would not feel the need to prove we don’t care.

People say they don’t care, but they do. I do. We all do.

We plaster our “proof” of “happiness” on Snapchat stories, in Instagrams, in tweets.

We aim for “candid” pictures, lining up perfectly imperfect to laugh at nothing.

During Homecoming pictures, sixty of us gathered at the Butterfly House. The boys sported suits, and us ladies were dressed to impress. Our dresses would have served us better in the warm climate of Malibu and not the low 50s of St. Louis.

While we were all smiles, we were all actually freezing our tails off and just looking forward to the food we were about to eat.

Before taking pictures, I’ve heard people shout out jokingly, “Okay guys, look like you’re having fun!”

So we do.

But those are only moments. Those are only the highlight reels of the lives we choose to follow.

It can eat away at us if we sit there and scroll through these highlight reels of other people and then compare ourselves to them.

We see everything behind the scenes in our own lives. The good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, the successes and the defeats.

No one will instagram a picture of themselves getting cut from a team or tweet about their boring Friday night.

But here’s the truth.

Social media is a little white lie, and we are all little white liars.

The pictures are filtered, the tweets are the highlights of our thoughts and the Snap stories are the highlights of our days.

Of course, I am guilty of projecting my highlight reel on people’s news feeds, too.

And we should want to post the fun memories and pretty pictures to remember them.

But sadly, the reason we post is not usually for us, the post-er, but for our followers.

Someone told me once that, “Instagram is stressful because you have to please your whole audience. Your siblings’ friends, your friends, ex girl/boy friends, sports friends, school friends, young people, old people.”

The list is exhausting and endless.

As if the goal of posting a picture of something we feel a connection to is only for likes.

That’s where social media tends to warp mindsets.

We spend so much time on social media because we use and abuse it as a self-esteem booster. We use it as a source of reassurance that, yes, we are funny, or, yes, we are “Gorg.”

In that mindset, we lose a sense of self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-love and instead look for those things in other people’s opinions, a crazy sounding oxymoron when you think about it. How can we look for self-acceptance in other people?

This abuse of social media sends us on a toxic quest for perfection. Other people’s opinions warp our thoughts about ourselves with things completely irrelevant to our actual worth.

But here is another truth.

Social media is not the problem. We are the problem.

Our generation has glorified busy-ness and undying happiness to an unattainable extent.

We are expected to always be busy doing something and show it over some source of social media. And not only that, but it also just has to look fun.

“I mean, if you didn’t post it on social media, did it even, like, happen?”

Here is the last truth.

Yes. It did happen. And it is okay if whatever we did sucked. And it is okay if we have no picture to show for it. And it is okay if we do have a picture to show for it.

But if we decide to post something about our experience, let’s make sure we, ourselves, the post-ers, like it.

Let’s post it as an awesome memory not a confidence booster.

And if we post it and can’t stop looking at the like-ratio, I challenge all of us to leave our phones in a different room and do something worthwhile.

I’ve recently found that the cure for social media anxiety is being absolutely content with just being. Read a book, write a book, color, draw, listen to your favorite song, sing your favorite song.

Self-acceptance is not easy while sitting bored and alone, scrolling through news feeds, but it is an art that can only improve with practice.

And, sorry, I little white lied; I have one more truth.

Authenticity will never be “un-like-able.”