I’m genuinely happy with my life; who I am, the love I’ve found, the family and friends around me, a job that doesn’t feel like work, and the lifestyle choices I make that add to my fulfillment.
Nevertheless, I stumbled upon a YouTube video recently that made me feel inadequate and insecure. The video was cut by a young, good-looking couple with glamorous clothes doing glamorous things in exotic New Zealand.
“I’ve been to New Zealand before,” I defensively thought to myself, “But I was wearing ordinary clothes and didn’t look like a model while doing similar things.” I clicked on another video, showing the couple taking their kids snowboarding. “I’ve taken my kids snowboarding before, but we didn’t look that good while doing it.”
Truth is, it doesn’t matter if you’ve already done what’s being done on YouTube or social media in general. You feel crummy either way. This is because face-talking YouTube videos and social media aren’t real. They’re falsified. They’re edited highlight reels and often filled with so much product placement, wardrobe furnishings, staged shots, and forced reactions that they can’t be trusted. As the research in my book uncovers, this type of social media always makes us feel miserable.
In fact, after skipping through the second video, I noticed the snowboards were abnormally devoid of snow. At the end of the video, none of the riders looked sweaty or messy like they would after a truly fun day on the mountain. “These are models,” I told myself. “They’re not real. Spending lots of time staging photos and videos on a snowy hill is not fun. That’s work.”
In fairness, this family seems nice and kind. I’m sure they have an endearing and genuine side. But that’s a side you can’t monetize. YouTube doesn’t pay for monotony because it’s suppose to be entertainment. Monotony, such as the 20 minutes I spending making boring oatmeal each morning, will never be entertaining. Which explains why there are so few oatmeal videos and so many New Zealand and extreme sports videos.
Admittedly, maybe my adventure writing or work-from-home lifestyle has inadvertently made others feel inadequate. If it unintentionally has, I would offer the same advice I do in this case: click away. Don’t waste your time indulging in things that don’t make you feel good.
So I won’t be watching this family’s videos anymore, nor others like them. I’ll teach my kids to not fall for this unintended trap and click away early when watching something that makes them feel inadequate. I’ll teach them to watch YouTube videos that make them laugh and uplift them without encouraging consumerism, pushing products on them, or selling them something that isn’t real.
I’ll do this not because I’m jealous. But because a big part of being happy is removing the things from our lives that don’t bring us joy, even if we think that they might on the surface.