From December 26th to January 1st, 2018, I had gone to Diani, Kwale County to join Kenya Assemblies of God Buru Buru youth for their annual camp, a tradition that I’ve tried to keep faithfully for the last seven years or so. When we had gone to the beach one afternoon, a conversation ensued between me and the youth pastor.
In our conversation, I mentioned that 2017 was one of the worst years of my life. But he couldn’t believe it, he told me because, from my social media timeline, it looked like I had everything going on well for me. I was travelling from one part of the country to another. It must have been an automatic conclusion for him and many other people who follow me to conclude that I was living a very good life.
What he didn’t know was that in 2017, I had a horrible year that almost drove me to a brink of an emotional breakdown.
2017 was terrible, so terrible that I can’t compare it to 2010 when I lost my brother. I had annoying debts chasing me from every corner. I was holding on to the thread of hope that things would be okay. My emotional health became strained and for the first time in my adult life, I broke down. I had never been a man who would just cry. I believed in the sacredness of a man’s tears, that they are only shed on special occasions like during an intimate worship session. I believed that a man’s tears were not supposed to be seen, at least by the male friends.
A few days after my birthday, I found myself in the old tanager restaurant along Standard Street. Sitting on the opposite side of the table is a good friend of mine called Muchiri. He is the soft guy in the group. Muchiri can cry about anything. I even used to enjoy him that if you needed a man to cry on your behalf, holla at Steve and he would wail on your behalf for free. Muchiri’s tears are so available that if he bowed his head, they would come out.
So on this fateful day, I began to narrate to him the pain that was buried deep in my soul. I was in debt, the relationship I was in was a constant source of sorrow and pain and I wasn’t happy with my work. I wanted to run away, possibly grow wings and fly away to seek rest for my weary soul in a faraway land. I didn’t manage to go. I had to carry my burdens like an elephant’s tusk.
That was in June, the rest of the year I spent recovering from the trauma of the first half of the year.
Yet without proper background information of what I went through, anybody who read my timeline exclusively only saw a very small fraction of my life, which looked perfect.
And that is the dilemma this generation finds itself in. Social media only gives you a glimpse of someone’s life but also lies to you that that is all there is to them. It doesn’t show you the sleepless nights. It doesn’t show you the bouts of depression people are fighting. It doesn’t reveal the depth of insecurities folk’s battle. What it does show us is a perfect life of globetrotting, edited images without flaws, insta moments of pure fun in high-end clubs, road trips, meals, laughter, friendship and a life of pure bliss etc.
If there is a modern-day landmine of deception many people are currently walking on, it’s got to be social media.
In the streets of social media, a disgraced former Banker who had been fired from 3 banks because of fraud can package himself as a captain of industry, ‘inspiring’ people with his posts that are meant to paint him as an outlier. Moving from banking to tech industry yet the man was fired, but because banks sometimes keep the fraud activities under wraps to protect their image, the man is riding on the outlier tag while everybody who knows him personally or his career record knows that he is a fraudulent man whose hands are always found in the cookie jar.
Social media will get you comparing yourself to a couple who are portraying perfection yet as we already know, there is no single relationship that is perfect. Couples fight, there are numerous disagreements in a relationship, but some people would rather paint a picture of perfection instead of an ordinary relationship.
Why don’t we see images of couples fighting, crying, disagreeing etc as is normal with all relationships?
Social media is deceiving; do not believe what you see unless it meets the standards of authenticity. I know many women who struggle with self-love because they are comparing themselves to people who take raw 1000 photos to only post five perfectly edited ones. The chosen ones are carefully edited to remove all sorts of ‘blemishes’.
The allure of social media is leading people to pull off crazy stunts just to be liked. For a morsel of a comment or a like, people are willing to do outrageous things to please total strangers.
Consider the stunt pullers in Russia, China etc who climb skyscrapers, risking their lives just to pull off crazy stunts. Well, a number of them have been caught on camera falling down to their demise. Their families are left grieving.
There is no perfect life. As long as you are a human being, with flesh and blood, you will have insecurities, weaknesses and demons to battle. There is that one part of your body that will bother you until you learn to love it or maybe to live with it. Maybe it’s your forehead, or your height, your chin, or your eyebrows etc. There is always that one part of the body, your weight, your figure, and your hair, something that will always be reminding you that you are a human being.
But social media will never show that. Many people want to cut an image of perfection, pushing some people towards the brink of destruction.
Remember this every time you try to compare yourself with anything online; it’s just a tip of the big iceberg. Unless you see the whole picture, the small preview isn’t enough to make any conclusion.