When we see airbrushed advertising campaigns splashed across glossy magazines we know it’s been staged. There’s an understanding that the images were created by an extensive production crew to depict an idealistic, fantasy life.
However, when we scroll through people’s curated highlight reels, we often forget that each picture is also carefully crafted to depict a certain narrative. Social media conceals the in between moments of grit, challenges and despair. People generally don’t post photos of themselves having meltdowns at 3am. And that’s something I want to emphasise to people who compare their behind the scenes challenges to people’s idealised projections of themselves.
An image can tell a thousand words, but it can also hide what happened behind the scenes. It’s easy to conceal grief and pose in a stunning location with a smile-happy expression. But that image isn’t necessarily reflective of their life and doesn’t provide much backstory. You may not even know what happened before or after the photograph was taken. The person may have taken a thousand shots to capture the perfect one. The person may have cried, broken up with their partner, lost an important business contract or been bitten by a spider. Let’s take it further: they could have fallen on their faces right after the image was taken.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to share your brightest moments and post a beautiful image. However, people often don’t see the hard work behind each achievement someone has posted – leading to a generation where effortless perfection is considered the norm.
You see that final shiny golden medal, but not the hours of hard work, early morning training or late night hours.When we are only exposed to other people’s successes and not their challenges, we subconsciously believe that everyone has it so easy.
We know that advertisers pay for placements on specific media platforms, but we don’t realise that people’s engagement, friends, comments and even blue tick verifications can be purchased. Like a movie, a drama or a beautiful advertising campaign – it’s easy to fabricate your life, omit the pain and boost your standing. So never feel discontent or ‘behind’ when scrolling endlessly through a stream of happy and glamorous images; they do not capture the full picture.
Admittedly, it is difficult to be vulnerable and open up about struggles. But I hope that by opening up about the challenges I have encountered, you will feel less alone. In school I suffered from dyslexia, a stutter and auditory perception difficulty. I spill food on my clothes. My hair gets ratty. The kids can go wild and I can go a little crazy from sleep deprivation and stress (no, work-life balance isn’t a breeze). There are laughter, tears, joy and tantrums in my relationship. I miscarried. There are people that have laughed at me and still do.
So remember, next time I post a nice image of myself on social media: there are challenges and triumphs in everyone’s lives, but social media only showcases a moment in time.
Canna Campbell is the founder and director of SASS Financial Services, a boutique financial planning firm. She is a Channel 9 Financial Commentator, founder of financial media platform SugarMamma.TV and best selling author of The $1000 Project and Mindful Money.