Jeffrey Platts

Taking Off My Social Media Mask

Written by on June 24, 2010

Take a look at your Twitter or Facebook streams and you might think all of your friends are elephant riding in Thailand or getting back from kick-ass workouts with their personal trainers. Blogs and social media sites can sometimes give the impression of all your friends are living perfect and eternally happy lives, always doing cool things. Or perhaps it’s easy to project that the people whose blogs you follow are experts or gurus with all the answers or that they have it all together. And as someone who lives with a comparison monkey in his mind, this can be especially challenging for me.

On one level, this makes sense. If we have total control over the message we’re sending (which we do on Facebook and Twitter), why wouldn’t we want it to be positive? Who wants to share messages that are negative or don’t portray us in the best possible light? And if you believe in the attractive power of energy/vibration, isn’t it better to talk and give attention to what you want to experience more of?

That said, there are times when I can feel inauthentic, as if I’m not showing a fuller picture of myself. Instead I wear a Pollyanna digital version of the mask we so often wear in face-to-face interactions as a way to manage what other people think of us. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m blogging now, so that I feel pressure to put on a perfect public face so my “brand” doesn’t take on a negative tone. Or maybe because I teach yoga so I have this idea that a yoga teacher must be an infallible source of wisdom and joy.

“I’d rather be whole than good.” Carl Jung

Yet I am a human being. A guy with dreams, desires, needs, fears, insecurities — just like every other person on this planet. Of course my family, close friends and the women I’ve dated already know that. 🙂 If connecting in person has its inherent limitations on knowing someone, then technology can only provide at best a sliver of that connection. So with the intention of sharing a more authentic and whole picture of myself, here are a few things about myself that I am working to accept and embrace, while also wanting to move beyond:

  • I pepper my conversations with swear words sometimes. And I worry if that makes me less “spiritual” or “yogic”.
  • I struggle with the daily negative self-talk of my monkey mind.
  • I get awkward and anxious around women I’m really attracted to.
  • I can get sucked into seeking validation from people I don’t even know.
  • I can spiral into low moods that are tough to get out of.
  • I sometimes feel like I’m not “masculine” enough, whatever that means.
  • I get insecure when a really experienced teacher takes my yoga class, worried that they’re going to think I’m a crap teacher.
  • I worry that I won’t attract an amazing woman that will like me as I am, flaws and all.
  • I sometimes spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter as a distraction from doing what I need to do.
  • I have moments where I think to myself “I have no idea who I am or what the hell I’m doing.”
  • I still eat processed junk food when I’m having a bad day. And on good days, too.

But you know what? Big. Freaking. Deal. I’m definitely not the only person on planet Earth who does any (or all) of those things. But I’m aware of my patterns and, like most people, I seek to evolve and expand for the better. And that’s great, since you can’t change something if you’re not first aware of it. And for me to add shame, embarrassment, guilt, judgment on top of observing it serves no useful purpose. I don’t know about you, but I relate more to humans, not mannequins or robots.

“Our society nurtures the illusion that all the rewards go to the people who are perfect. But many of us are finding out that trying to be perfect is costly.” – Debbie Ford

As I look back on my previous posts, I realize the truth that many teachers have shared: we teach what we also need to learn. I don’t have it all figured out. It’s by living my life, observing my fumbles and learning from them, that I find the juice for what I write. I’m no expert. I’m no guru. Nor do I want to be. I want to be a guy who is living his life, thinks he has some interesting perspectives to share from his own experiences and hopefully they resonate with some people and helps them in some way.

My intention is NOT to get you to start whining with your Facebook posts every time you have an insecure thought or get hassled by your mom on when you’re gonna find a nice girl and get married. That’s missing the point. I’m mostly wanting to remind you to keep the perspective that WE ARE ALL HUMAN. We all have parts of us that we love and other parts that we don’t enjoy so much. But they are all a part of you. I’m not suggesting to take out a billboard for your “shadow” parts, but you don’t have to lock them in the basement either.

So I invite you to look at the traits and habits that you (or others) may view as “shortcomings,” “flaws,” or “failures” and practice owning them and embracing them. Don’t overidentify with them, just notice them and don’t push against them. Feeling that you need to portray yourself as always happy, successful, all put-together is pretty damn exhausting for anyone to maintain.

And also notice when you get into comparison mode with other people. The “perfect” jet-setting life you think your friend puts up on Facebook is the life of a human. Everyone has their virtues and their vices. No one is flawless. Again, this is not about being a Debbie Downer and sharing every negative trait or thought. It’s about owning ALL of you, honoring your light and your dark. Expressing yourself from place of love, awareness and compassion. Whether that happens online or offline, it’s something that deserves some focus.

Everyone has their bad days and their negative moments, even if they don’t put it in their status update or tweet it. Don’t let an overly positive Facebook stream fool you. 🙂

What do you think? What is the best way to express a whole and real picture of yourself online? Is it possible or even necessary? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. A great resource on how to embrace and honor your full self, check out Debbie Ford’s work:

What Is The Shadow

The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (Video Summary)

The Secret of the Shadow: The Power of Owning Your Story

Jeffrey Platts is a men's coach and authentic communication expert who is passionate about helping men create amazing relationships with women. With over 20 years of personal study and transformational training, he has led nearly 200 workshops and retreats on personal growth, dating, and communication. Jeffrey's work and writing has been featured in the Huffington Post, Washington Post, ABC News, Authentic Man Program and the Good Men Project. He brings a rich toolbox of insights and experiences to his facilitation, integrating his adventures as DJ, amateur stand-up comedian, salsa dancer, yoga teacher and world traveler.