Curating our lives for others

james-01

     The idea of a curated life is one which has become widely known with the proliferation of social media and its use as a primary source of contact with so many of the people in our lives. A curated life is a social media presence which is designed, either consciously or not, to show a specific segment of an individual’s life. For example the person who has a separate Facebook page for professional contacts; keeping the more personal information to their personal page. Another example is the friend who posts almost exclusively about vacations they take. This sort of curation gives others the impression of constant, or at least significantly more frequent than the truth, vacation trips. The idea of curation is not an intentional lie, however, as I have heard some say. It is a different style of social media use. Some people prefer to publicly talk about the mundanity of their daily life while others prefer to keep it as a sort of personal highlight reel.

     These curated lives have side effects which can affect the consumers of such media. In many people I have spoken to there is an ever increasing internal expectation to have a life along the same degree as those seen online. It is a self-imposed expectation to live a life of one impressive moment after another; of splashy activities worthy of the desire and longing of those who see and hear about it afterward. Yet why should we impose such expectations on ourselves? Not even the people who we are trying to emulate actually live lives of constant praise-worthy action. We are, in such efforts, attempting to emulate a life which does not exist in the real world; and it does not exist for very good reason. Such a life would be exhausting, it would be tiring without lulls. We need recuperation time interspersed between moments of peak interest. Whatever your recuperation, your down time, looks like, it is the reason you are as productive and energized as you are when you ‘get back to it’. What’s more, we shouldn’t try to force ourselves to live such lives based on some fictitious comprehension of the lives of others.

     We shortchange ourselves if we push for a life which differs from our actual preferences. If I spend my energy striving for a lifestyle focused upon impressing others, then I will (and have, at times) look back at those efforts and wonder what I was thinking spending so much of my time, energy, and resources on the opinions of others; opinions I commonly had made up myself. I want to live a life full of worthwhile moments. If I am honest with myself about the life I sincerely want and then strive for such a life, then I will have lead a worthwhile life, regardless of how successful I actually am along the way.

     Do not allow yourself to become wrapped up in the curated lives you may see on social media. Recognize them for what they are; someone’s highlight reel as opposed to a full life. Instead, work to live a life you can be happy with both today and tomorrow.

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