Welcome to another Media Moment! This month, Jacqueline Boudreau, a student at the University of Southern California, shares her experience learning that social media posts often only tell part of the story. These stories are meant to help create a village square of commiserating and co-celebrating the many ways media intersect with the lives of children. Please comment and even submit your own ‘Moment’ to share with your fellow readers.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
I go to the University of Southern California and spent my first semester abroad in Paris. During my freshman year, my life seemed glamorous to people at home in Boston through the lens of social media. I constantly heard “Your life seems perfect!” or “You seem like you’re having the time of your life!”
These presumptions left me silent, and made me feel so alone. I wondered how the perception of my life, and the reality of it, were so opposite.
That freshman year of college was the hardest of my life. Moving across the world proved to be unbelievably challenging and lonely. I realized quickly how tiny my childhood world had been, as it instantly felt so distant. The events of that year were unprecedented, as disappointment, heart break and tragedy ceased to be even abnormal. My wisest confidant was taken by cancer. I was betrayed by the person I gave everything to. I coped with the progressing illness of a parent. I lost a best friend, and the foreign darkness of suicide became a reality within my family of friends. I doubted who I was, and who I wanted to be, and was so overwhelmed by the sudden enormity of the unknown.
I felt myself slowly breaking that year, but none of that was on Instagram. There were montages of the beautiful places and wild adventures I had been on, but there was nothing to tell of the sadness, loneliness, or nostalgia I felt.
I realized that the essence of social media abandons the authenticity of human emotion. This distortion is closely intertwined in the mental health epidemic that faces our society today. Social media was created to unite people, but instead we are making each other feel more alone than ever. #HALFTHESTORY is a movement that is finally promoting vulnerability and truth. Nobody should ever feel alone or ashamed in sadness, for isolation is the hardest part of personal battles against anxiety and depression. It’s scary to be genuinely exposed like this, but if someone who is struggling can read this and feel less alone, isn’t it worth it?
~ Jacqueline Boudreau