Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan.

Auntie Says: Take a closer look

Perception is something that affects our lives every single day.

Everything you see, feel, touch, or hear is translated into your understanding or impression of the world. That perception causes you to form an opinion, a feeling and judgment whether you’re aware of it or not. Often in the mainstream media, stereotypes are perpetuated through the common perception present in our own short-sightedness.

The next time you’re watching TV, close your eyes. Can you tell the race or ethnicity of the person speaking? Can you tell someone’s job by the clothes they wear or the car they drive? How about happiness? Can you tell whether someone is happy just by looking at pictures of them? That’s all perception.

Social media is all about perception. Auntie simply asks you to stop and take a more conscious look at it. Look at not only what you’re reading and seeing, but also what you’re putting out there. Awareness is key.

A quick flip through Facebook, Instagram and even YouTube is always interesting when you’re looking at it with eyes wide open. All the smiles, positivity and love that people post is amazing, but is it real? You cannot, and should not, take any social media at face value because perception is not necessarily reality.

How many times have you re-taken that selfie before posting? Every time you do that, you’re manipulating the reality. Have you thought of that? Why didn’t you send the first one? Was the angle all wrong? Or, perhaps the picture made you look fat or your nose looked too big — there was something that made you erase and redo. The real answer is that you are wanting people to have a certain perception of who you are and you want them to accept that as reality.

Everyone’s doing it right? It makes everything look like all sunshine and lollipops when the reality, perceived or imagined, is completely different.The problem comes when you actually accept those projections as reality. All media only gives you a one sided look at an already skewed reality.

It’s a human reaction to compare your perceptions with your own reality and they usually don’t measure up. You see a good friend posting pictures on Instagram, they’re all smiles and the images are amazing. Their lives look so interesting and incredible. Your brain goes to that negative place where everything in your own life now looks sad and ordinary.

Take another look at that pretty picture of a family with their big grins and seemingly perfect life and ask yourself how many times they took that pic to get it worthy of posting (or how many tears may have been shed, fights had, or whatever happens behind the closed doors that you’re not privy to).

Put a sticker near your screen that says “perception is not reality” to remind yourself that a lot of stuff you see is fabricated, air-brushed, sugar-coated and/or the result of 10 retakes. This can be a beginning of reclaiming your own power over your world because comparing everyone else’s life to your own can cause depression and anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle when nothing you have, do, or are, measure up to what you perceive everyone’s world to be.

You’re always trying to catch up with everyone else or present your own pretty picture that it becomes exhausting. Awareness of the issue is the beginning of not allowing it to rule you.

Look at your own posts and offered perceptions. Are there times when you’re posting things for others to see, only to get attention and adulation? Perhaps you’re looking for the ‘oh you poor thing,’ ‘love you,’ ‘feel better’ — all that stuff.

If you’re doing it, just remember, so is everyone else.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She is always happy to hear from readers if you have comments, ideas or questions at Faye.arcand@icloud.com. More of her writing can be found at www.fayeearcand.com.

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