Today we have a story, a lesson, and a plea.
I live in an apartment building with a roof deck. Our roof has a clear view to the horizon in the west.
Because of this, on many evenings I will grab a book or a podcast (or nothing at all) and sit on the roof to take in the sunset.
Recently, I was on the roof listening to a podcast (this excellent Mad Fientist podcast with Mr. Money Mustache, Paula Pant, and Doug Nordman) and watching the sun set when a young woman came out onto the roof with a glass of wine.
She had the right idea. It was quiet and peaceful with a magnificent view. It’s not easy to find that type of relaxing atmosphere in the city.
She took a seat and then took out her phone. She proceeded to take a picture of her wine glass and the sunset. She looked at the picture and, apparently not liking it, tried again, this time holding the glass at a much more uncomfortable looking angle.
This went on for around three minutes. Then she sat back, satisfied, and uploaded her photo.
The sun continued its downward journey, but this woman did not lift her eyes from the phone. Once the photo was uploaded she just had to see the reactions to it. She had to interact with the people that commented. She had to see what other people were posting.
Her head was buried in her phone for the entire setting of the sun. I got up and went back to my apartment once it was fully dark outside. She was still tapping away on her phone.
Teddy Roosevelt is believed to have said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” This is doubly true on social media, where “we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”
You see the pictures that your friend posts from her amazing vacations, but you don’t see the many nights she skipped going out to dinner to be able to afford them.
You see the constant check-ins from your friend who is hitting up different bars every night and living it up, but you don’t see how much he hates his 9 to 5.
Social media allows people to share the parts of their lives that they want to share. It allows them to paint their lives in the best light. You see the good parts, but not the bad. When you are jealous of someone’s beautiful house or someone else’s extravagant trips, you don’t see the sacrifices and trade-offs that they made to get that beautiful house or those extravagant trips.
Maybe if you knew the whole picture you would prefer the choices you’ve made, the things you have, and the trips you’ve taken.
Or maybe they’re not even taking the time to enjoy that sunset that they posted.
Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.
Try to dedicate your attention to the moment in which you currently reside.
I know that I am not always the best at this, but I am trying to get better and I think we all could try to be a little better at this.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
Let’s all try to spend some more time living in the present. Put down the phone. Enjoy the sunset.