The first 24 hours of our trip to Costa Rica didn’t quite go as planned. Let me share just a few snippets:
- Despite a) flying super elite status which was supposedly prioritizing our luggage, and b) arriving crazy early before departure (Rick likes to be so early, I can finish a small novel before liftoff), mine was the only suitcase not to arrive with the plane out of about 300 passengers. Reflection: you don’t really know yourself until you’ve lost your luggage…
- Even though our emailed agreement didn’t stipulate this, we had to pay extra mandatory national insurance for our car rental.
- Got lost trying to find hotel – 11PM ish, circled the section of geography for close to an hour and went through the same toll booth and paid the same lady 4 times. Reflection #2: nothing tests your marriage more than being lost in a foreign country at night when you’re hungry.
- Our phone pinged us in the night; son, Morgan, who was supposed to fly in that morning broke the news that he mistakenly booked tickets to San Jose, California instead of San Jose, Costa Rica. We devoted the first part of the next day finding new flights for them and then the remainder of the day revising our retirement plans in order to offset new costs.
- During our ascent up the Mountain (boasting a height of what felt like 7000 ft. above sea level*) and with an altitude so severe my ears popped twice we found out our expensively insured 4×4 wasn’t really a 4×4 but, instead, contained an engine the size you’d find in a lawn mower. Our first clue came when we began to slide backwards down the mountain* Positive note: we didn’t die. Not so positive note: we had to rent another vehicle – the climb was steep in altitude and in cost!
But the real point to my story was not to share vacation incidents but to say that I noticed all of this tension was void from my Instagram pics; I posted the most tranquil panoramic views of the mountain, soothing scenes of the jungle and the incredible serenity of our infinity pool.
Comments from friends were “ahhhh you must be soooo relaxed”. Yet, nothing could have been further from the truth at the time. I felt like a fraud and contributing to “fakebook”: criticism of #socialmediaplatforms causing #depression because we compare our lives to the fabricated versions of others.
But here’s the thing, I didn’t consciously ‘fabricate’ anything but I most certainly made a decision not to share our family trauma and took pics of the part of our trip making me smile.
After all, social media IS about our #socialpersona which is different than our reality and personal selves; the teen in her duck lip poses, the couple on their date nights and the mom on her “family adventures” are the parts of their lives they elect to have socially shared.
Shaping how we want to be seen and having that identity validated is so psychologically needed it fuels the power of social platforms; cleverly luring us with those adorable little like and heart buttons.
Behavioural science has always established how we adjust our behaviour for rewards and now research into behavioural addictions (social platforms, gaming and gambling) clinically link chemical releases in the brain making it tremendously difficult to look away from our screens.
It gets unhealthy when our passive enjoyment of “likes” turns into obsessively needing them to the point of adjusting realities; like making plans on a weekend just to add pics to a feed. Even worse is getting hooked on being liked for the online version of ourselves at the expense of our real selves.
To prevent the ill effects, experts tell us to reduce our screen time and people I’ve worked with have found tremendous success when they take their mind off auto pilot and became aware of how their thoughts are being influenced when they scrolled and surfed the net.
One lady, in particular, mentioned how irritated she got when seeing posts about her friends’ escape weekends with her new boyfriend. When she jotted down her thoughts, she realized she sensationalized the positives of her friends’ weekends while downplaying her own. She also stumbled into the revelation that she had issues with her marriage – the true source for her irritation (insights into why some images “sting” and others don’t is another journal post someday 😉 )
We don’t need filters for our pics we need filters for our minds so we can better interpret the bombardment of images and info. technology is hurling at us.
Social platforms are amazing when they are used for capturing an electronic chronology of our lives. In the big ‘picture’, it really doesn’t matter what kind of image we post because what’s more important is the memory anyway.
Memories are not always directly captured in our pictures; like there was never a real picture of Uncle Ned spitting in the punch bowl but that story always comes up when we flip through the wedding album. Nor did we take a selfie when we learned of Morgan’s scheduling snafu…. but I’m quite certain it’ll come up again….probably when we’re revisiting my Costa Rican mountain pics and someone says “wow, you look soooo relaxed”.
Ps: Asterisk denotes MY recollection of what happened – my journal, my facts 😉 Rick mentioned he might start his own blog to share HIS version.