I have a love-loathe relationship with social media. I’ve met some incredibly cool people through it, but for every one of them, there’s a hundred randos and spammers. There’s an abundance of cute animal content, but for every snoring Frenchie, there’s an ill-founded political screed. Social media is a wonderful place to discover books and writers, and it’s critical for promoting my own writing. But watching other writers celebrate their successes online—a two-book deal! A job on a TV staff! A great score on Goodreads!—always makes me feel like I’m behind in my own career.
If I didn’t know myself, and just looked through my Twitter and Instagram accounts, I’d probably think I was doing pretty well. I’d see pictures of my nice house and adorable dog, and the exciting places I’ve traveled. With my writing, the landmarks I’ve shared may sound like a dream for a first-time novelist: landing an agent and a lucrative publishing deal, getting a starred review from Booklist, being published in other languages, selling the TV rights.
But for every accomplishment, there’s been a setback. I struggle daily with my writing, and if anything, feel more insecure about my work now that I’m published than I ever did before. I’ve faced mental and physical health challenges that I don’t talk about online.
For every picture I post:
I probably delete two others that came out like this:
I think of social media as an iceberg. People, including myself, tend to share maybe the top five to ten percent of what’s going on in their lives: the most flattering selfies, the beautifully plated meals instead of the late-night semi-congealed Kraft dinner.
It’s virtually impossible to spend time on social media without noticing that everyone else seems to be doing pretty darn well, and to feel in comparison like some sort of slimy, slow-moving slug (at least that’s how I feel). But when you see someone else posting about their great new job, or wonderful family, or chiseled abs (you know who you are, ab people), and wonder why you don’t have the same thing… stop, take a moment, and remember that you are seeing the tip of that person’s iceberg. You can’t judge others by the snippets they choose to share with the world. And you shouldn’t judge yourself by their snippets either.