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Are we idealizing our lives too much?

From romanticization to perfect moment syndrome, in a gradual detachment from reality

Are we idealizing our lives too much? From romanticization to perfect moment syndrome, in a gradual detachment from reality

To navigate these challenging contemporary times, one must romanticize their life, or at least, that's what they say on TikTok and even more so on Instagram. This expression, now omnipresent, encompasses a wide range of attitudes and behaviors, all aimed at making the everyday poetic, making the mundane worth living, from breakfast onwards. A positive movement, on paper. The risk is setting exceedingly high expectations, in the illusion of living a perfect life completely detached from reality.

Romanticize your life!

Telling your day in a poetic way, arranging breakfast with an eye for aesthetics, thinking about the beauty of existence when the sun is shining or when you discover a particularly good ice cream parlor, expressing gratitude to the people around you: all of this is romanticizing life. Nothing wrong with it, if it weren't for the fact that this expression wouldn't exist without social networks. A crucial part of the process, in fact, comes from the storytelling and sharing of these moments: how do we romanticize life if we don't capture and share it all? What is this romanticization if not draping every action of ours in emphatic storytelling?


If it’s not giving Main Character energy I don’t want it

Big Little Lies (TV Theme) - Voidoid

The main character energy

Hand in hand with this concept is the idea of main character energy. According to some it-girls, to make life exciting and "shareable," we must inhabit it and move within it as if we were the absolute protagonist not only of our own story, but also of others'. Everything happens for a reason, and no one can challenge our role in this TV show or novel. Even the bad things, when reframed in this mindset, become interesting, because they happened for the plot.

Social media impact and the Perfect Moment Syndrome

Social media doesn't help with this. Every day we see, especially on Instagram, images, videos, photos, and stories of lives curated and reworked to appear as perfect as possible. It's nearly inevitable not to desire, even unconsciously, that our own days, breakfasts, parties, vacations, outings with friends, and dinners with our significant other be just as perfect and perfectly narrated. This is where author Sarah Wilson, to describe this tendency and tension, uses the term Perfect Moment Syndrome.

A real but often elusive condition

Perfect Moment Syndrome is precisely what its name suggests: a condition that drives us to seek the absolute moment and, consequently, to feel disappointed when this realistically doesn't occur. Not necessarily because misfortunes have happened, but simply because life and social media are two different things. It seems obvious, but it's not. If we want to create a flawless moment, one that is photographable but also genuinely happy, and this doesn't happen then stress, disappointment, and the feeling that nothing is going right for us can follow. And if this event isn't even negative or absurd or painful enough to be shared on social media in an attempt to go viral, then what was the point?

@youloveandyoulearn do you experience perfect moment syndrome? how does that impact the experiences you have? what might it be like to shift from “this is how it *should be*” to “let’s see how this goes” without judging the outcome? #relationshipanxiety #perfectionist #perfectionism original sound - Sarah | Relationship Anxiety

Negative effects

Discomfort, dashed expectations, missed inspirations, chronic dissatisfaction, meticulous documentation and sharing of our lives, but only the parts that align with the character (especially the main one) we've created. These are also the dark sides of a social media usage that increasingly deludes us into thinking that a constantly special and shareable life is possible, in a desperate race towards something that doesn't exist. Taking a further step back, these attitudes can lead to a progressive isolation and behaviors that are not motivated by sincerity or naturalness, but by different criteria. Moreover, the more we detach from the reality of life and the world, the more we become unable to digest its nuances. In very few words, we're losing touch with real, normal, human life, without filters and without a frame.

@hannah_berner Im tired can we be the background character sometimes @catherine cohen listen to ep on Berning In Hell and youtube #podcast #maincharacter #maincharacterenergy original sound - Hannah Berner

Letting go of expectations, embracing a normal and imperfect life

The solution, as often happens, is to ask ourselves some questions. Does this desire for perfection stem only from us or from social media? What lies at the root of this feeling of dissatisfaction? Being present with ourselves and in the moment, avoiding a view of life that makes us see everything in black and white, perfect or disposable, with no middle ground, and striving to combat negative self-talk are all things that can help in a movement towards reconnection with the real, unromanticized world.