What do normal people use Facebook for?

Self-optimization 2.0: How Facebook, Instagram & Co. are driving us crazy

If you stop by on Facebook or Instagram, you will not escape: of self-optimization. Wherever you look - self-optimization is already there and it puts us under a lot of pressure. It is teeming with beautiful people who maintain their beautiful partnerships or advance their careers in beautiful surroundings. Self-optimization 2.0, however, no longer comes with a raised index finger. She learned something new and adapted to social media conventions.

Pinched striving for perfection (hang in and make more effort!) Is out, because that seems hard-working and pitiful. Self-optimization 2.0, on the other hand, seems to be a lot of fun. She comes across as effortless and casual and whispers to us: Be yourself, only better! We see what that means every day on Instagram & Co., because there seemingly normal people casually take self-optimization to the extreme.

To be too good to be true?

Nowhere else can you find so many breathtakingly good-looking and versatile talented women (and of course men) as on Instagram. All you need is a bit of sleep and two liters of water a day - maybe a light make-up - to look adorable. They have a great job, lovely children and they regularly spend quality time with their sweetheart. At the same time, they are currently opening their own online shop for home accessories or fine jewelry, which is why they are traveling all over the world in order to procure goods. They don't go to sport because of their stunning figure, but because they have to somehow get rid of their excess energy. And if there is still a little time left, they also get involved in some good cause because they want to make the world a better place. Sounds exhausting? What. This is deceptive. The masters of self-optimization and self-staging never tire of emphasizing that they only do what they are passionate about - and that is why it all works by itself. The subliminal message that resonates: We too should urgently find something we are passionate about - then that is it breakneck ride on the carousel of the Self-optimization is great fun.

Self-optimization vs. self-actualization

No wonder that we normal observers only run out of breath from watching. We long for a break in which we can just be who we are right now. And seek help from feel-good magazines that promise us to get around the mania for self-optimization. Seemingly. Until we take a closer look. Because of course the wellbeing magazines do not preach: Become more beautiful, smarter and slimmer. Instead it says: Be mindful, listen to your heart, live your dream, realize yourself and just relax. From the rain in the eaves. Printing from two sides. One suggests that if we do we will waste our lives not enough want to reach. And the other that we waste our lives if we do too much want to reach. What now? The fact is: We never seem good enough. And if we are unwilling to reach our full potential, then we have failed completely.

Self-optimization - what nobody tells us

It is surprisingly rarely spoken of, but in our lucid moments we sense that a huge bear is being tied up on us. It is possible that we can actually have it all by now, but it is very unlikely that we will have it all at the same time. Or as Gloria Steinem writes:


“Everything does not work. No one can do two full-time jobs, have perfect children, cook three meals a day and have multiple orgasms until dawn ... "[1]


Shonda Rhimes (US-American screenwriter and creator of the hit series “Grey's Anatomy”) is also bad at self-optimization and pseudo-reality. In her book “The Yes Experiment”, Rhimes honestly confesses that she would be in a fix without her nanny. Or that she is fighting on all fronts at the same time - especially against themselves and their claims - and still have to make compromises somewhere.

The aha experience from Shonda Rhimes

As a little shake-up, scriptwriter Rhimes also shares her hairy aha experience with us. Shonda spent hours and hours in front of the mirror in high school using a curling iron and tons of hairspray to transform her frizzy into the look of Whitney Houston. Every morning anew. Whitney's life seemed perfect then, and if Shonda's hair was just as perfect, her life would follow suit, she thought. A few years later - Shonda had come to terms with her own hair - she told her hairdresser about her morning ritual à la Whitney. The hairdresser laughed tears and said: "Girl, you realize that Whitney was wearing a wig back then?" Shonda writes:


“Your further words no longer penetrated me. All I could think of was all the time and gallons of hairspray I'd wasted. I relived the inevitable grief, failure, and insecurity that I felt every morning when my hair just wouldn't give in to my desires. If I had known ... if someone had told me ... that my hair would NEVER look like this no matter what I did ... If only I had known that even Whitney's hair couldn't be laid like this ... [...] But I have to admit that I also felt a touch of relief. Because now I knew: I had not failed. I was just missing the wig. "[2]


And what does Whitney's wig have to do with us?

Very easily. Let's not let ourselves feel badjust because we miss the wig. Or because we chase unattainable idealswho one day will break even from what they set an example for us. Let us remind ourselves again and again that on Instagram we are confronted above all with perfectly staged self-staging, as the photo series by Chompoo Baritone very nicely shows. And even cute hashtags like #formorerealityonstagram or #withoutfilter cannot change anything. We cannot find unfiltered and real life on Instagram or Facebook - we should never forget that. If we should stumble again in this regard, we would do well not to surf the stylish self-optimizers. But for a change, Celeste Barber. It doesn't show real life either,but shows us the absurdity of self-staging wonderfully. And over 4 million followers show that she hits a nerve with it.


[1] Sheryl Sandberg: Lean In. Ullstein Verlag (2015)
[2] Shonda Rhimes: The Yes Experiment. Heyne Verlag, (2015)

Photo credits: iStock.com/natalie_board