These last few weeks have been really stressful for me, and for many reasons too. After sharing my previous post with my peers, I quickly learned that there a lot people who you barely know that will be a friend and support you. There also many people who you consider as friends who will disapprove or even avoid you.
I decided to unplug from everyone and the web for several days. I thought I would feel lonely, but it really helped me to think things through. I punched a couple of walls, threw some tantrums here and there, and cried on the phone to some close friends. In the end, I felt like the privacy helped me to unwind and think about my issues. It made me realize how important if me would be to many people. I’m disappointed that I haven’t had time to work on it this term.
It also made me realize how nobody ever wants to vulnerable to their peers. Not only does this hold true at school, but also on Facebook. After sharing my previous post, I got a lot of private messages from people I barely knew who told me some of their stories. I felt like I encouraged people to open up in some way. We bottle up so much, and even when we hit a “breaking point” we never share the bigger story with others. For many, this story is too painful, humiliating or difficult to tell. There are people who are willing to listen, but there are also people who do not want to know “too much” about you.
Nobody really answers “What’s on your mind?”. Social media is just an extension of the offline world – people are putting their best face forward even when they shouldn’t. We have become obsessed with maintaining our persona. This weekend I overheard two people comparing how many likes they got on a post. On the bus today, I saw someone opening and closing their profile picture several times. I know some people who act like their vapid status updates or check-ins are breaking news.
“You didn’t see my update or some person’s comment about it?!”
“Let me spend hours thinking of witty statuses!”
“Ooh, what’s a good lyric to put beside my new selfie?”
“I must capture all of the memorable moments and also choose the right filter for them.”
“Let me assert how happy I am with this new [job, item, relationship, etc.] by complaining about it.”
Why do we even care about this?
Of course, it boils down to self-esteem. We live in a culture where acceptance is gained through successes or advantages. At the same time, if you don’t humble-brag then you are too confident. If you’re feeling vulnerable, there is a stigma attached to telling others about it.
You are either:
- Too needy
- Or desperate
Most people don’t openly tell others that they are struggling. It’s something people only share with close friends and family or a therapist. I always fear that people will pity me too much – be too scared to talk to me because they are afraid of offending me. Although I’ve shared a lot, I am still hiding things. It is just sad that we let ourselves get unfairly judged by a society that also make us too self-conscious to speak out. It’s a double-edged sword, but we have the power to unplug and expose ourselves whenever we want to. There is no shame in that, and it’s better than lying to yourself.
This blog originated from Julia Nguyen of http://julianguyen.org. Please visit her site for more of Julia's content.