Decoding Highlight Reels on Social Media


I look happy in the picture, like I’m having a great time. I’m covered in a kaleidoscope of different colors of paint and smiling wide with a laughing friend, who also looks like multiple buckets of paint were poured on her. This picture can be found on social media, another photo in a line of posts where I try to make my life seem more interesting than it is.

In this case, I am happy. Mostly because it was the end of an insanely busy week, and Drake Relays is coming up quickly. But, of course, what you won’t see in this picture is the anxiety and stress I felt this week, or how I got only about four hours of sleep last night (which, honestly, isn’t bad compared to the amount of sleep other staff members on the Times-Delphic).

You won’t see the headaches or the exhaustion – you won’t see the lowlights. And while sometimes I think we forget that happiness portrayed on social media isn’t always fake or forced, I know the negative effects it can have on people.

It can seem like you’re always living it up or having the time of your life, when in reality you aren’t. I don’t think people mean to post certain pictures to rub their lifestyles in others’ faces, sometimes that’s just the picture you like and want to post.

I love seeing people happy. I love seeing pictures of people laughing, going on adventures or posing with their loved ones. I understand why people come away with the feeling that they should be doing more, so they can be more like whoever they’re creeping on Instagram.

You won’t see the lowlights because you don’t want to see the lowlights. We have news organizations to show us the bad times – and these are important because they’re necessary to stay informed and aware of issues happening in our world.

Social media is not always a friendly place. No matter what you do, someone will question it, and not in a good way. Someone will call you fake or whatever else. And the world is not always a great place to be either. Social media beings this new dimension that reveals a whole other level of judgement. We want to be uplifted and inspired, but when we see posts from our friends or whoever, we sometimes feel the opposite.

It’s bizarre. On one hand, you like to see that your friends and family are doing well. On the other, you feel bad about yourself and your own choices. And there’s an extremely high chance that you post about your own happiness or success every chance you get. Because why wouldn’t we show off the highlights, especially when you’re feeling down about something?

Showing your chink in the armor is always okay, as long as you aren’t trying to hurt someone else in the process. It’s okay to show weakness, whatever amount of it you choose, on social media or only with a tiny circle of people. I have never been someone who talks a lot about my own problems or inner struggles, because I don’t want other people who don’t really care about my wellbeing to be privy to that.

We have to accept that everyone’s so-called highlight reel they parade on social media is different, and there is no one path that is the right one.

No one is happy every minute of the day, no one will tell you that life everyday is great and that they don’t have any struggles. The struggle is the best part anyway.

We see the highlights because they are a conclusion to a rough time period, like the end of a long week, in my case. A picture doesn’t always say a thousand words – and maybe sometimes we should stop trying to read too much into social media posts.

And if a person seems happy, let them be happy, no matter how long you think it may last.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.