A little secret about me: I love how social media gives us a look into each other’s lives. I love that we can get a sense of someone simply by scrolling their Instagram feed.
As an entrepreneur, social media helps me get my brand out there, connect with my community, and attract potential clients. Though like anything, social media has its drawbacks and one in particular has been really getting under my skin: the perpetuation of the sugar-coated lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong, positivity is crucial for an entrepreneur. We haven’t chosen the easiest path and we need to be flexible and yielding to the turbulence of building a business. Inspiring quotes, motivational videos, and the multitude of free downloads to help grow a list, prompt blog posts, or build a community help us stay afloat. We need to see our community flourish in order to know that this trip is worthwhile…but only to a point.
Our rolling newsfeeds are bad for us. Since we only see heavily edited glimpses into the windows of our peers, our social media perpetuates a skewed vision of other people’s lives. If you’re an entrepreneur trying your darndest to get your awesome business off the ground (and remain balanced in the day-to-day), the last thing you need is another heavily-filtered shiny life making you feel bad about that mountain of laundry.
The trouble is, it’s an addiction. We’re unwittingly peer pressured into taking hundreds of selfies to choose one, angling the camera and our faces to make our bodies look the way we want them to, then we add filters and extras then all of a sudden, the image isn’t truthful anymore.
I know there’s value in a good looking image and I’m not saying that you can’t choose the best photo or enhance it for that matter. But I do want us to notice when we’re over-curating our lives and come back to what’s real.
Here are five ways we can combat our addiction to virtual sugar together:
- An Attitude of Gratitude
Happiness starts with gratitude. Creating a daily practice of acknowledging the good parts to your life balances stress levels, increases self-awareness, boosts your immune system and general vitality, and promotes coping skills.
- Be Real
If you’re ready to see both sides of people’s lives, you too need to get naked. Show the world your new product launch, rave about a cool testimonial, take a photo of the knitting project you’re proud of but also Instagram that messy living room, tell your community that you ditched your 10,000 steps resolution in favour of drinking wine, and be honest when you’re tired and cranky. It’s okay. I’ll still like you…and in fact, I’ll probably respect you and trust you more because of it.
- Practice Community
By connecting and sharing with like-minded individuals, our social safety net becomes stronger. By providing a safe, non-judgmental space to be truthful, we are in turn opening our virtual community for genuine encounters, mutual respect, and meaningful interactions. That in turn builds a stronger community of people who will promote, support, and refer you to prospective clients because they’ll know a ‘great fit’ when they see one.
- Kick Comparison to the Curb
Mark Twain said, “Comparison is the death of joy” and let’s be frank. You don’t know what’s on the other side of those positive posts. That amazing entrepreneur who tells the world they wake up smiling, drink a green smoothie on the way to yoga then come home to an inbox filled with eager clients? They may also have an aging parent with health troubles, a relationship on the rocks, or life challenges beyond their ability to cope.
Comparison can serve as momentum but when it gets the better of us, it can also be stifling. Beyond Compare is a rocking program put together by Tanya Geisler and Lauren Bacon that helps us notice then let go of our comparative nature so we can move ourselves and our businesses forward. (That’s not an affiliate link by the way. I just like what they’re doing.)
- Find Inspiration in the Positivity
Use what you love about the lives of your social media community to inspire your own. Make that green smoothie, go for a hike, spend the next five minutes noticing your breath, or pencil out some time to write that blog post (then do it). When we work toward our own happiness, we become more capable of being strong and supportive leaders.
There’s only one drawback to this: the only way that we’ll truly be able to break the sugarcoating habit is if we do it together.
Please keep posting those happy moments, the awesome projects, the days you achieved the (im)possible…but do us all a favour and make sure you sprinkle a little balance into your feeds. You know, when you feed your kids cold baked beans because it was that kind of day or when you’re feeling overwhelmed and emotional or like this job is the hardest you’ve ever, ever done. Tell your community. Tell us. Tell me. I’m with you in this and moreover, we’re in this together.
Tell me how things really are using the hashtag #communicationsdistillery.
It can be positive, negative, or somewhere in between. The only parameter is that it has to be honest.