The Social Media Façade

Digital Mirrors by Gary Sikhosana As time goes by, social media has come under hellfire for robbing people of their humanity, making them anti-social and fake and a whole load of other things. I concur with most of these accusations but as usual, there are two sides to this coin. Social media I believe, is a perfect place for lost souls to hide. Again, both a good thing and bad, but I’ma focus on the good. It’s common knowledge that lol tweets are often written with stone cold expressions. Or, #bestDayEver selfies are taken by people who probably only smiled once that day – while taking the selfie. But that is the beauty of social media.If this selfie, can make a teen with self-esteem issues smile for one second; 10likes and a boost of confidence, isn’t that picture worth it? That somebody can look for beauty and find gratitude in the only meal they can afford #foodporn, for one to share the only thing that made the day worth getting up for – a glorious sunset.

Social media is a platform for people to share what is good in the world. The brief magical moments, one colourful thing amidst the grey. Facade of their lives? Yes. But a necessary one. I’ll use my example and make myself clearer.

A few months ago, I got a job as a swimming instructor and receptionist. It sounds totally fun, and while I was in the water it was. But getting up, to go to work was the most painful, soul-draining experience that I have gone through. Not because I’m a heavy sleeper – heck, I was always awake 7 hours before I needed to go to work. Neither was I lazy – well, that could be challenged. The people I worked for made my life a living nightmare. I always dreaded meeting my boss because I wasn’t sure what I would be yelled at for next. I couldn’t bear finding out what I had done wrong yet again because as it seemed, I could never do anything right. Every day became harder, and harder, and more and more depressing. The 1hr commutes were constant mind wars: thoughts of turning around and walking back home, meditation of jobs that would work best for me or what my life would be like if I wasn’t accepted to the school I’d so badly wanted. Why the hell I was still alive.

I couldn’t sleep AT ALL knowing I had work at 2.30pm! But everyday, during the commutes, I had 30min walks. All 30mins were spent taking pictures of flowers on the sidewalk: Yellow, pink, red, green, big and small, clusters and singles… Any flower I saw, I took a picture of it and put it on Instagram. Those likes, the mere fact that 15people had seen and liked my pictures, that was all I needed to walk through the worn-out blue doors of the humid swimming complex. Those likes kept me going. I learnt more about the magic of spring than I thought possible – the life that is born when the cold withers off. For 30mins everyday, I experienced beauty in something I would never have given a second’s thought. For 30mins everyday, I took a step away from depression. My Instagram profile reflected a life of walks and free time, which I’m not ashamed of because nobody saw the broken girl, tethered to life by comments and likes. If they did, I would have gotten enough sympathy votes to warrant me comfortably sinking into depression and self-pity. But, here I am.

So next time you are on social media and come across a girl with too many flowers on her feed and captions of beautiful days – like it. You never know. Your likes might save a girl, grasping onto delicate flowers, grateful that they and your likes have more strength to keep her going, than she does herself.

The flowers that preserved my sanity: img_4476


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