Saturday, March 16, 2013

Are you vain?

I am. 

And, it’s ridiculous because I try soooo hard NOT to care.  And, yet, I do. I DO!

Granted, I don’t care enough about my appearance to put on make up in the morning or use product or electrical devices to achieve a “hair do,” but I still want it.  And, I get jealous. That’s right! I said it!  I get jealous!

And, chances are you do, too.

Maybe not all the time, but at least every once in a while, right? . . . (I squinch up my eyes . . . please say yes. . . :-/ )

The truth is, I lead a pretty darn amazing life.  With a lot of great, wonderful, fantastic elements to it! And yet, I find myself getting all caught up in a tizzy over someone’s provocative Instagram post, or latest Facebook profile pic or ostentatious Tweet that they had the “best day in the world!”

The thing is, life is life, and last time I checked. . .

It’s not all bright and shiny!

At least my life isn’t, but somehow I feel at times like I am in a competition to impress the world with the best, tone-enhanced, square image possible (that will ultimately be forgotten tomorrow. Or, rather, in the next 5 minutes. )

It’s not all the time.  I often feel genuine excitement and joy in others’ beauty and for others achievements. But, then I turn around and feel like sh*t (I mean crap).  Sh*t!

I am worried, not because I might not have the most beautiful “selfie” but because I have been played.  I keep being played. A puppet in this world of social media.  And, the puppeteer is my own self doubt.  And, I know I am not alone.

Now, I just look at someone’s picture and I think. That isn’t REAL.  Because, it is not real.  It is not the matter of this real world; it is a series of pixels in a likeness that has been enhanced, and filtered, and contrasted, and angled to suit the desires of its owner.  This is not real life. Because, life is not all bright and shiny.  I am not all bright and shiny. And, probably you don’t feel bright and shiny all the time either. 

But, what does this mean?  What do I do? Deliberately put unattractive pictures of myself up (complete with double chin and greasy hair) or should I post only the sh*ttiest occurrances of the day?  Do I delete my accounts all together?  Do I get psychological counseling until it doesn’t bother me?  Will it ever not bother me? 

I have written before about Twitter for Mindfulness.  And, I see the value in making connections and sharing ideas online. I also see the marketing potential for my dance company. All good thing, but I currently feel an acute awareness to how it is not good. Not healthy. Not the direction I want to be going.

This article in the Huffington Post asks “Is social mediaturning us into teenagers?” and I say:


“I am the equivalent of a teenage fool!”

And, I am ashamed and terrified. 

I have been reading an excellent book by Rick Hanson called Buddha’sBrain, in which I learned just how important it is to cultivate the positive channels in the brain through contemplative practices. What I found most interesting so far (and I’m only half way through!) is the idea that we need to sit with positive emotions and not breeze through them in order to rebuild and refine the neural connections for positive emotions and positive behaviors.  By taking the time to soak in the positive, we are able to help build the neural pathways that allow us to relax and generally feel better more easily.  But this takes time and practice.    Hence zazen (Zen seated meditation) everyday!

So, I have been making an effort to notice and soak in the good moments of life.  And, they are good, but in general things are general never as good or as bad as we think they are.  So, taking a walk is wonderful.  But, when I see a picture of people at the top of the mountain on their hike, I think: “That must be AMAZING!!!”  But, in fact it was probably just good.  Wonderfully good, but just real life good. 

I don’t want to lose my life choosing which Instagram filter makes my pictures look the most exciting.  And, I certainly don’t want to compete with those people who choose to use their time that way.  It’s not real.  It’s virtual. It’s a screen.  It’s a glorified likeness.

It’s not all bad, and I am not renouncing it.  I just want to be honest. To see it as it is.  And, to let simple reality be enough. 

Not so amazing, Not the over-the-top, with the perfect lo-fi filter and immediate status update type of amazing.

Just real life good.
For the record, here is a pretty real picture of me.  Sweaty, awkward, poor lighting, crummy composition, ill fitting outfit.. . . You name it. It's  real.  And, it was a good day. 


  1. I love you more than ever, I feel connected to you, and I have to giggle at myself because - though I KNOW we ALL do this to some degree - I'm SURPRISED it's YOU posting this! You're BETH MEGILL! My twitterfied, facebooked teenage self is attached to the idea that you, goddess of all that is beauty, dance, goodness, humor, and talent in my early college years, could not possibly know what it is to feel like Sh*t! But you do. That's a way of knowing through which I suddenly feel bonded to you. Hooray. :) <3

  2. Wait a minute, you wrote that about me! ;)
    I'm definitely one who only posts the best pictures of myself and anyone I tag (I wanna look perdy always) Remember I always showed up at 7am to teacher training with makeup on? It's a curse that I feel the need to do that crap! But I've accepted that I'm that way and it makes me feel comfortable, so I do it.
    Regarding posting only exciting and wonderful appearing things, I am glad that my friends post things that made them happy that day. I would really not enjoy FB if everyone was posting sad or super monotonous life moments. I want to smile and laugh with my friends and family. I want to look at pictures that they like of themselves and the people they share their life with. I want them to feel that way about my moments too!
    It's so true that life is not all rainbows and unicorns, but if YOU see a unicorn, PLEASE POST IT!!
    BTW, you always look stunning and your life looks like a blast... XO

  3. Thanks for you responses!

    Mary Kay, I love your honesty. And, I very much agree about the "good" side of this social media beast. I mostly feel GREAT when I see my friends having joyful experiences. And, I don't want to lose that! But, there is a dark side in me that has trouble balancing it and processing it in difficult times.

    Laura, I am so glad you responded too because as I was going to sleep last night I realized: "Wait! I need to apologize. Because the chances are my bright and shiny life has caused others a mistaken view of me!" I am very much fallible here! In part because FB is a great way to get the word out about Megill & Company and its goings ons and in part because deep down I really just want people to like me. *Sigh*. And, I want to like everyone. *Sigh*. And, neither is a very reasonable standard.

    So, we bumble along the road of social mediate and hope. Or rather, work to be aware of our choices, why we make them and their consequences in our lives. That is what honesty is about. I love that Mary Kay wears make up! She is one of the most beautiful people I have known. Inside and out. But, if I wore make up it would be for a different reason and one that would not be healthy for me.

    We are blessed with this life of suffering, bumbling, discovering, bloopering, awakening. Lifting the veils of delusion and ignorance. And, forgiving ourselves when we fall back under them again.

  4. Speaking of social media, I just had a moment of zen when I went for the "like" button and realized there wasn't one.

    Actually, that button is quite handy when I want to send beams of glowing agreement at the connections made between my own experiences and those that you share... I admit it. I'm addicted to the "like" button. But it is turning my verbal response skills to mush. ;)