Do you remember a situation where you were just browsing through social media sites and felt bad because the lives of everyone else seemed to keep improving, while you were standing still? You’re not alone – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen pictures of my friends at exotic locations, while I was just browsing the net, watching YouTube videos, or searching for an online voucher code. Why do people’s lives seem perfect online?

Is It Really Perfect?

You turn on your Facebook app only to see your friend from high school in Italy, while another friend just got married and had a big reception. Their lives, though different, seem wholesome. Nothing bad ever happens to them, right?

Wrong. There is a tendency to filter through your life’s events, turning them into escapades. Sure, Dave got what seems to be his dream job. However, we don’t see him posting about all of the other times he applied to other places and was rejected. Tina may be working in another country and posts pictures of beautiful beaches and smiles all around, but did you know she didn’t make the rent last month and was almost evicted? The point is that sometimes we embellish what happens to us.

But Why Would People Do That?

There is a need to seem successful in the eyes of your peers. There are many things that society values as progress on a personal level. These include getting a job, getting married, having kids, traveling, and/or having money to burn. There is a fear that we are not up to par, that somehow we have failed in life if we find someone that has something we don’t.

Keeping up appearances is a human need that predates social media, but it thrives in the online environment. Remember when your mother wouldn’t let you use the “good plates” or the “guest towel” (in spite of the fact that you don’t have guests that would stay the night)? It is pretty similar to that. Looking online, we get a feeling that everyone has good plates.

It is then that we are eager to trade off successes. Jo got a new car? Good for him, here are seventeen pictures of my cats. Ann got married? Well, I am going to the bar with my friends to get wasted, even though I’m forty, just to show you I can. Did someone post a selfie on a cruise? Kudos, I have some things money can’t buy – here are my kids in their adorable outfits.

Going Too Far

While all of this seems harmless, people can let things get away from them. In an effort to be real, there have been examples of people oversharing their emotions, messy breakups, health conditions and other information that should be kept private. On the other hand, you have people lying about where they’ve been and what they’ve done, trying to appear important and cool.