Social Media: Life Through A Filter

Scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I’m met with a typical stream of the usual photos and status updates. An old school friend has ‘just arrived in Cyprus and already on the cocktails!!’, a uni friend has ‘checked in’ to a  fancy restaurant with her ‘one and only’, and there are of course the endless pictures of everyone’s amazing night out at the weekend.  It’s a similar theme over on Twitter, and once you get to Instagram, there isn’t a grey sky in sight.


Needless to say, if my old friend’s accommodation had been a let down, if the date night had begun with a row over money, or if Saturday night’s antics had actually been one of those nights where the DJ was pants, everyone had to look after the emotional drunk and the taxi was ordered early, then those of us scrolling on Facebook would never know. And this, of course, is only natural; why would we want to share our mishaps with the world? If we are going to have a permanent, public exhibition of our lives, it’s understandable that we miss out the not-so-great parts. What’s more, if we treat our Instagram accounts or our facebook profiles as a documentation of our memories, then a showcase of our best times would be far nicer to look back on.

There are of course the moaners, the ‘hate-staying-in-on-a-Saturday-night-ers’, the ‘cracked-my-phone-screen-FML-ers’ – you know the ones. And yet they are only doing just that, moaning, about life’s little annoyances, usually with the hope that people will comment sympathetically and everything in their universe will then be restored. No one is talking about the genuinely tough times, that at some point we all go through. No one is updating their status about how they are still not coping, all this time after the death of a loved one, or how they are trapped with an emotionally abusive partner, or how behind all the baby photos, they are actually struggling with post-natal depression.

More often than not, this is the way things should be. Personal problems are best shared with those that truly care about us, not people who went to your primary school but that you wouldn’t so much as nod to in the street, or that boy you went on a couple of dates with but haven’t spoken to since. And yet, when browsing on social media, you’d be forgiven for thinking everyone else’s lives are perfect, that their lives are strictly care free, fun and exciting, their biggest problems being a missed bus or having to return their new dress.

If you’re anything like me, and you find yourself killing time by having a good nosey at peoples lives, it’s easy to slip into a classic case of life-envy. This is probably worsened by the fact that we tend to check social media when we are bored and on our own. When we’re the ones having the fun we’re far too busy to be checking Facebook. Before social media, we didn’t have a constant stream of our friends’ lives seeping in to our day-to-day, asking us to compare, asking us, though indirectly, if our lives are as fun, as glamorous or as photo-worthy?

But it’s important to remember nobody lives their life going from one good thing to the next, whatever their timeline looks like. We all, understandably, make our lives look that little bit rosier, that little bit more fun-filled than, in fact, they are; nobody wants to hear about your day spent in your joggers cleaning the bathroom and watching day time TV. So the next time you catch yourself scrolling through social media and envying someone else’s life, remember that they could be doing exactly the same thing, because their life is likely no more perfect than yours.



  1. Cousin Dave
    July 21, 2014 / 10:34 pm

    I saw a really good video on YouTube that put this point across perfectly. Shame I can’t find it now though!

    But I agree , it can be a real problem for some people, as it can often look like everyone is having an amazing time and living life to the full, because that is the only bit you see!

    • Emily
      July 22, 2014 / 12:51 pm

      Yeah it is really easy to forget that you’re only seeing a portion of peoples lives. I sometimes feel bad about posting only the good things that happen, but then I wouldn’t want to bore people with the not so fun things so I guess it’s only natural!

  2. July 22, 2014 / 11:51 am

    This is a great post Emily! I definitely get social media envy especially with so many of my friends seemingly living it up in London but I know that my own facebook/instagram etc looks like I’m also having fun ALL the time when I am definitely not – def one to think about!


    • Emily
      July 22, 2014 / 12:54 pm

      Thanks I’m glad you liked it 🙂 Yeah it’s especially easy to do when you don’t see the people (and their ‘real’ lives) very often. I remember when everyone moved away to uni, and my friend that looked on facebook like she was having the time of her life ended up dropping out – it just goes to show that you can make your profile look different from what is really going on, we all do it.

  3. July 22, 2014 / 4:07 pm

    I really liked this post! I think we often do get caught up in all those moments when we make our lives look one way when really something else entirely could be occurring. I’ve had a few friends who have appeared fine on social media and then are utterly falling apart in person. This is definitely one of those things to think over the next time I’m looking at all the usual feeds. Awesome job 🙂

    • Emily
      July 22, 2014 / 4:31 pm

      Thank you! Really glad you liked it 🙂 We shouldn’t have to keep reminding ourselves but it is so easy to slip into!

Let me know what you think!