Bake Your Own Cake: Facebook and Unhappiness

August 17, 2013

'Cawan Cake :P' photo (c) 2009, Nono Fara - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I saw a link to a study yesterday. You know how studies on the internet are, right? They are everywhere and sometimes they are suspect, but I tend to believe the findings of this “study.”

The title was this: “Facebook Use Leads To Unhappiness.”

I don’t doubt that this is true for a lot of people. I heard one time about the large number of marital affairs that start on Facebook–old flames rekindling or new people meeting, I guess. Also, there’s been many studies done about teenagers and self-image related to social-media. What if you post a picture and no one likes it? What if you post a status and no one pays attention to it? What does that mean?

Probably the biggest reason for unhappiness linked to the social media giant is this: In general, we are not content with the lives that we have. When other people post pictures of their awesome lives, we are reminded of how unhappy our own lives are. Single people are reminded that their single friends are getting married. Married people are reminded that their married friends are having babies. Parents of generally sullen kids see pictures of their friends’ children smiling and enjoying life. Homeowners see that someone bought a bigger house. Friends buy boats, cars, bikes, expensive clothes for their kids…

And we tend to forget that when on Facebook or any social media format, it’s very likely that one will post the awesome things that happen in life, but not the not-so-awesome things. Social media is not a full movie our lives. It’s the trailer that shows the best parts of the film.

My husband, Jason, does a lot of backpacking and there’s something he says from time to time. I think it’s something Appalachian trail hikers say: “Hike your own hike.” Basically, you have to go the way you have to go. You’re there to do your own thing and you need to go at the speed you need to go and see the things you need to see and think the thoughts you need to think and take the pictures you need to take. You’re there for your own reason, so do your thing. Yes, there will be community and a time to share the experience with others, but…

“Hike your own hike.”

I’ve been relating that to other things in life, too. The other day, I had just gotten out of a kayak and Jason and I were talking and I used his phrase, except I said, “Paddle your own kayak.”

I’ve also thought, “Bike your own path.” “Run your own race.” and “Bake your own cake.”

Live your own life.

We are not designed for the same experiences and you are not meant to live a life that is identical to the life of another person. You bring gifts and talents to this earth that I do not have. I could be jealous of your gifts…or I could find my own gifts and use them instead of wishing I had your gifts. I could whine and worry that your life seems to be happening so much more smoothly than my life, but the reality is I am just seeing your “greatest hits” and am unable to see the troubles and struggles you experience. I could try day in and day out to make my life look like your life because I admire it so much…but it will only make me unhappy because my life isn’t meant to look like that.

We each have been given different ingredients with which to bake cakes, so our finished products will never look or taste the same. But, seriously, let’s bake our own cakes. We will all be so much happier!

5 responses to Bake Your Own Cake: Facebook and Unhappiness

  1. The other day I stumbled upon an article called, “Turning 30: 30 things every woman should have and should know”, and the list was so distanced from what my life experiences have been so far that it made me pause and reflect on the journey God has me on.
    Here’s an excerpt of just the first 4 points:

    “By 30, you should have …

    1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.

    2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.

    3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.

    4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.”

    It’s a no for me on each one (I don’t even own a purse). My life, which God is molding and guiding, is exceedingly different from mainstream expectations of an almost-30 year old, but these are the flavors and ingredients for my personal cake. Overall I like them and I’m grateful to God for them, and, if I stay faithful to Him and His plans, at the end of my life when I present it to Him, my cake’s gonna rock. 😀

    Thanks for your thoughts, Becky!

    • Whitney, I think when we’re willing to be content or even excited to be living a life that has a unique design and stop constantly comparing what we have to what others have, God does really cool things–like send one of us Chile to do incredible bringing Kingdom to Earth things!

  2. Becky – I shared your blog on my fb page – very well written! I believe that we are to celebrate other’s successes, and have empathy when they are suffering. Good to bloom where we are planted and not worry about what everyone else has or does! But I do enjoy keeping up on fb – hopefully won’t make me unhappy!!! Thank you for your thoughts! Carolyn Dorsey

    • Carolyn, thanks for sharing and thanks for your kind words! I enjoy facebook as well as keeping up with the high points of lives of friends from every corner of my life. I have heard too many of my friends say that it becomes a depressing place sometimes, and I wish that were not the case!

  3. Great stuff, Becky! Thanks for this great reminder.