I’m doing great!
Should You Contact Tim Apple?
It’s the middle of hump day and you’re sitting at your work desk. You’re surrounded on all sides by your colleagues who seem to be incredibly productive and motivated.
You, on the other hand, are busy scrolling through your Instagram feed liking, commenting, and wishing you were anywhere else.
One moment, you wish you were in Mykonos with your imaginary significant other. The happy beach photo of your ‘favorite couple’ penetrates and stings your inner being.
You think to yourself, “They look so happy together. They are perfect. And I have nobody.”
The next photo features your ‘best friends’ out last weekend at that cool new bar. For some reason, your invitation got lost in the ether so you didn’t have the time of your life.
Maybe your iMessage wasn’t working properly? Should you contact Tim Apple?
Unbeknownst to you, the average social media user scrolls the length of the Statue of Liberty every day.
As you continue your treck up Lady Liberty, you receive a text from a friend. Well, it’s not an ordinary friend. This friend is your former best friend who you haven’t spoken to in months.
Instinctively, you feel a sense of happiness and confidence that your former best friend reached out. You both decide to Facetime after work to ‘catch-up’.
Later that night, you hop on Facetime. For 10 minutes, you listen to the new positive developments that happened to your friend since you last spoke — the recent promotion and raise, the legendary social experiences, the new special person your friend is seeing, and the seemingly endless amount of trips planned in the future.
Then, it’s your turn to talk about your life.
Surely, you’ll tell your friend about how much you dislike your job. Or how you wish you lived in a different city. Or how your parents are going through a rough patch. Or how you’re struggling with your self-confidence. Or how your friends have treated you badly. Or how you had your first panic attack.
No. Why would you do that? These truths make you look weak, lame and ruin the flow of the conversation.
Instead, you say that you’re doing great! You’ve finally gotten behind your company’s mission! Your boss treats you right and believes in you! Your friends are great (but you wish your former best friend was here)! Your family is doing fantastic! You really like the city you live in! You’ve made a ton of new friends who care about you…
Your friend smiles through the phone and is glad you’re doing so well. You proceed to make up a very important thing you have to do at this very moment and say goodbye to your friend.
Months go by without contact from your former best friend and then you get another text. But this next text is not from your friend, it’s from your friend’s mom.
You’re alerted that your former best friend is really struggling with depression and had a major panic attack. Your friend’s mom didn’t know who else to reach out to — your friend seems to not have any true friends to help besides you.
If only you were honest about your struggles with your former best friend, maybe your friend would have been, too.
The art of being superficially happy has permeated our society. And social media has exacerbated the problem by creating a positive feedback loop:
The more time we spend on social media, the more superficial and less happy we become. The less happy we become, the more time we spend on social media.
Of course, the lazy response to this would be to just shut off social media. But this ignores the fact that social media is a truly addictive substance.
Social Media’s products (you, the user) have played into the superficial game of posting ‘happy’ photos designed to get likes, comments, and shares.
These likes have proven to give you boosts of dopamine that further hook you onto the platform.
However, these ‘happy’ photos, in large part, are misleading and share a false version of your friends.
In reality, the happier your friends’ social media posts, the more miserable they probably are.
We can address this by being more honest about our problems with those who care about us. Whether it’s a phone call, Facetime, or in-person meetup, we shouldn’t be afraid to tell people the truth, even if it makes us look weak.
I think it’s better to be honest and vulnerable rather than fake and ‘strong’.
To adhere to my own advice, I’ll be honest and vulnerable with you. If you couldn’t tell from the article, I’ve been going through major life problems: My long-time girlfriend and I recently broke up.
Instead of internalizing the situation (which would make me more depressed), I chose to reach out to my closest friends and admit my struggles. Though I was initially embarrassed to do so, eventually I found the practice liberating. And it wasn’t only liberating for me, but also for the other person on the line.
By sharing my pain, my friends felt comfortable reciprocating and opening up on their hardships.
These two-way conversations were some of the most real forms of human contact I’ve ever experienced and significantly enhanced my relationships. It also made me feel good to know that I have people in my life who care about me enough to listen and offer advice.
Everyone goes through major life problems, and if you can’t discuss these problems with your ‘friends’ then what good are they?
The next time you speak with your friend, you don’t have to act like everything’s alright. Because more than likely if you’re struggling, then they are, too.