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Today, it seems that many look to social media for real life influence and success. Everyone, from grandparents to celebrities, is on social media. It is the easiest way to express opinions and sneak peek into a person’s life. But what it fails to show are the times when life gets unhinged and breakdown is approaching such as the events that led to the murder of a Colorado family. Chris Watts, the father of two, was arrested on Wednesday and has admitted killing his pregnant wife Shanann, but denies murdering their two young daughters. This family murder confirms the façade of social media that floods timelines every day.
It is no wonder when Shanann, 4-year-old Bella, and 3-year-old Celeste “disappeared” that locals believed Chris’s televised plea for the safe return of his family. The arrest has shocked the small community where the Watts family was recognized as a happy and thriving family. They were good neighbors who traveled and spent fun times together. How could a proud father and husband who loved his family commit such a heinous act? The social media accounts of this family, complete with videos and smiling faces, confirm the realization that many social media posts are often just a façade of the real deal.
Friends and family witnessed many happy and celebratory moments posted on Facebook such as the announcement of the couple’s third child. The horror of the family deaths provides a depth to their lives that were never highlighted. The façade of social media – pictures lie, Instagram lies and of course, posts on Facebook often lie. Nonetheless, it is possible that the love Chris appeared to have for his family was genuine. Perhaps he suffered a profound psychological breakdown. Or, maybe he only acted like the perfect husband and father all while deteriorating internally.
These are all speculations that may never be clarified. However, it does confirm that no one has a perfect life despite what is displayed on social media. It is so easy to get wrapped up in someone else’s “scripted” life on social media. This leads to the fallacy of comparison and the notion that others are living a perfect life. The reality is many social media users, mute the struggles and amplify the joys.
This generation is fixated on capturing the best photo to post on social media in hopes of portraying a fun, luxurious and leisure-filled life. People are obsessed with social media and can often be found scrolling endlessly through their feeds peering into another person’s seemingly happy life. Oftentimes, it is easy to forget that social media allows users to take on any persona desired. Many literally and figuratively reinvent themselves by displaying a false narrative to fuel the onlooker’s imagination.
It is impossible for any social media profile to fully represent a life – after all, how can 140 characters or a well-filtered selfie capture a human personality? Assuming people are doing good simply because they post a fun or exciting social media status is like seeing someone wearing makeup and assuming they look the same without it. Instead of being so gullible, reach out to loved ones, drop an occasional text and create some real dialogue.
Despite the best intentions, social media has made liars of most. Perhaps, not liars in the pathological sense, but circumstantial liars who conveniently avoid the truth because they would rather perpetuate the image that “all is well.” Imagine if people were more truthful and social media feeds were more social and less media. Would Shanann and her children still be alive? No one knows the answer to this question, but what is known is that despite all of the family fun posts, something different led Chris to resolve that murder was his only option. This family death confirms the façade of social media.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Huffington Post: The Facade of Social Media
Fatherly: The Watts Family Murder Reveals What Families Hide Behind Social Media Facades
Odyssey Online: Why Social Media Is All A Façade
All Images Courtesy of Shanann Watt’s Facebook Page