Did you ever hang out with a Brit and suddenly find yourself speaking with a touch of an English accent? What about picking up on your best friend’s favorite slang? I think we’ve all been there, as it is natural to pick up on certain behaviors, mannerisms or speech patterns from the people with whom we spend the most time. For the people who know who they are on a fundamental level, these superficial imitations don’t really present a problem. But what happens when you’re not confident in yourself and you don’t really know who you are? You become a chameleon. First you adopt someone else’s accent, then you may start dressing like them, and pretty soon your moral code is defined by their beliefs rather than your own. You end up selling yourself out and living a life that you may not be truly proud of. I’ve seen this many times throughout my life, but never has it been more rampant than now, in the age of social media.
People can be whomever they want to be on the Internet. I can tell you firsthand how easy it is to appear fabulously happy while hiding the pain and imperfections of the life you are actually living. We are selective about what we share and don’t share, and thanks to those fantastic Instagram filters, we can even make ourselves look like supermodels. This may seem harmless, but the truth is that it creates a false reality and some impossible expectations that can easily become overwhelming. When all we see is the very best version of the people around us, even the strongest, most confident people may start to feel like they don’t quite measure up. I’m not saying it’s all fake, but I’d be lying if I said it was all real. In addition to making it easy for us to present manufactured versions of our lives, the Internet also gives us balls. Cojones. Chutzpah. There’s something about being behind the protection of our computer screens that makes us believe that we can say anything to anyone. Too often, we make the mistake of forgetting that we are dealing with real people who have real feelings and that they aren’t just avatars or characters. Or we become crusaders for a cause on the Internet but do nothing to stand up for that cause in real life. We dump buckets of ice on our head for likes, but we never actually learn what ALS is or donate money to fund the research efforts. We become “friends” with people we haven’t seen in 25 years and start to feel like we know them. We say things like “omg I LOVE her so much!” when really, the only version of her we know is the one that exists online. Basically, we forget about who we really are and what we really like, and we follow the herd in pursuit of the most likes. Believe me, I’ve been there. Guilty.
Yes, Abe. Quotes, pics, status updates, articles...you name it, it's been faked. Nice selfie, btw.
It is for these reasons and several more that I’ve decided to take a break from Facebook. It’s something I’ve been on the fence about for weeks. On one hand, I love Facebook. It allows me to keep in touch with my family in Maine, share pictures of Jordin, and keep up with my gym family. I can sell stuff that’s been laying around my house for 2 years on the yard sale page, and I can check out people’s fitness success stories when I need some motivation. I can keep in touch with fellow instructors and find some useful tips and advice on how to give my members a better class experience. Basically, for every negative thing I listed above, I can list a positive one here. That’s why I’ve been so torn, and I’ve been praying about this for a few weeks. Just when I was about to stay just for the sake of avoiding change, I got the sign I had been waiting for on Tuesday night, and now my mind is made up.
I’ve gone through a lot in the last 18 months or so, and I’ve been on one heck of a spiritual journey. When my husband moved out, I felt like I didn’t know which end was up. I realized that during the course of our 8 years together, I had really lost myself. I changed dramatically and became more concerned with being who I thought I should be than being who I actually was. Somewhere along the way I lost my confidence and became a chameleon, but when he was gone I had no one to mimic. I had no choice but to ditch my chameleon tendencies and figure out who I really am and what makes ME happy. Earlier this week, it became crystal clear that wasting my time on Facebook is actually hindering this process. I love Facebook and I know I’ll miss it, but what I won’t miss is the urge to maintain an online persona that makes other people comfortable. What I’m really looking forward to is continuing to get to know myself and investing in the relationships that matter to me in real life, because in real life I don’t care about followers, likes or how anything looks with the Valencia versus Mayfair filter.
With that said, please follow my blog so you’ll get updates when I post! You’ll need to log in with your e-mail address by clicking the link in the top right corner of the page. The majority of my traffic has always come from Facebook, so please help keep me up and running by sharing the link to my blog with your friends! And you can still find me on Instagram: @jenaleisha. Baby steps, people. Baby steps. Xoxo Jenalee