Facebook Perfection Syndrome: The Grass Isn't Really That Green
Facebook is great in a lot of ways. You get to keep up with your old friends, see what's going on in everybody's life, and maintain connections despite distance...plus see really cute pictures of babies, dogs, and cats.
But there's another side to Facebook (and other social media). I call it Facebook Perfection Syndrome (FPS).
Have you ever noticed that everybody's life, as portrayed on social media, seems completely awesome and flawless? In pictures, couples are happy (maybe even kissing!), children are usually well-dressed and well-behaved and smiling, and all seems right with everyone's world. Everybody is "so in love with my husband," "glad my wife is such a great mom to our children," "thankful he brought me flowers for no reason," "blessed to come home to this awesome five-course meal she prepared," enjoying date night, going on a cruise, and the list goes on.
It's easy to see all that and compare it to your own life and think, "My marriage sucks! Why is our relationship so boring? Everybody else is happy! Maybe we just aren't meant to be together?"
But as with many parts of life, here comparison is the thief of joy. Teddy Roosevelt said that. If he was the President and comparison was capable of stealing his joy, it's certainly capable of stealing yours too.
The comparison aspect of FPS is not just a thief, of course; it is also a liar. For every happy couple blaring their syrupy happiness all over your feed, there is an unhappy couple hiding their problems - and believe it or not, sometimes they're the same couple! Things aren't always what they seem.
For every photograph of 2.2 perfectly dressed, perfectly clean, smiling children, there is a baby somewhere puking on mom's face, a toddler who missed the potty, and a preschooler who drew on the wall with a crayon...again. On a particularly rough day, these three children might be living in the same house. For every "awesomely supportive dad," there is a semi-deadbeat. For every perfect housewife, there's somebody like me (let's just say laundry is not my forte and leave it at that). For every "I'm so in love with my wife," there's a "my wife is getting on my *last* nerve today." For every "my husband is the best," there's a "we fought this morning over how to load the dishwasher." You get the idea.
We are humans, not robots. We are imperfect and we all have bad days. But for various reasons (sometimes really good ones and sometimes bad), we share the joys of life with our 1,000 closest friends on Facebook, but we don't often share the difficult parts. We present the highs but not the lows. We don't talk about what love looks like in the trenches.
FPS and its close older cousin, Greener Grass Syndrome, are destructive and demotivating. They falsely present the idea that our relationships are so far gone they can't be recovered, that there is something inherently dysfunctional or wrong that can't be overcome. While sometimes this is true (for instance, when abuse is present), more often it's just an illusion.
Hear me. There is no perfect relationship. Stop looking; it's not out there. You shouldn't give up on your relationship because you think you'll find someone better (or even if you think you've found someone better already, as that's usually an illusion too). Sometimes divorce is necessary for your protection or your sanity, and sometimes you really are better off alone than in a bad relationship...but don't let the happy braggadocious Facebook fakers deceive you - even subliminally - into thinking your perfectly normal relationship is bad just because it's imperfect. Average relationships can become above average if you're willing to work to improve them. Stop looking to others and look to your spouse.
And my advice? Take Facebook with a grain of salt. It's about as real as "reality television."