Today, I had the misfortune of seeing the above image on my Facebook feed. It’s full of terrible advice, one line after another. Like, you think it can’t get worse and then it does.
In general, this is terrible advice. In an era when we’re trying to be more accepting of people suffering with mental illness, this is irresponsible.
It’s also not possible. As my pastor said on Sunday, “We are called to community. We’re never meant to do life alone.”
So yeah, in general, this is terrible advice. But, let’s not forget that the specific advice is terrible too (And what is with the comma splices??):
1. Date, In Private
This reads as though it’s from a bitter single person who doesn’t want to see that others are happy in relationships. As you know, I’m single and I’m happy with that, but I like seeing my brother-in-law’s Instagram post about proposing to my sister. I like seeing Facebook posts about anniversaries. I like seeing evidence that love exists. You could make the argument that this is just advocating against public breakups, but quite honestly, now that I’m actually happy being single, I don’t judge people for posting about their relationships, or the end of them, online.
2. Love, In Private
Since date was its own category, I’m going to talk about non-romantic love, like the love you have for your friends, family, and strangers (“Love thy neighbour as thyself.”).
Love in private. How does one do this? It completely goes against the definition of love and stops you from showing love to people you don’t know. Some might argue this is just saying to do good deeds in private, and not for public accolades, but that wouldn’t be love, as love isn’t boastful.
You need to look beyond your private world in order to love others. I remember a sermon in which the Pastor said the following:
“Love, in private” is an oxymoron.
3. Be Happy, In Private
I thought for a long time that I needed to work on not being so open with my facial expressions. If I think that what someone said is incredibly confusing and out of left field, that will reflect on my face. But it goes both ways: If I’m happy, I look happy. I often have to tell myself to maintain a neutral facial expression, and sometimes this doesn’t work when I’m caught off-guard. So not only is “Be happy, In private,” terrible advice, I don’t think it’s possible for me.
Much like “Date, In private” this reads like the bitterness of someone who doesn’t want others to share good parts of their life on social media. I can sympathize with that to some extent. I recently went through something that was absolutely devastating and came completely out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s difficult to see others highlight reels at your lowest point. But, since I can’t avoid Instagram, I learned to recognize that being bitter that others are happy just makes you an incredibly unattractive person. And happiness is contagious. Why keep it private?
4. Live, In private
No one can do this. Even the most introverted person I know wouldn’t be able to do this. Life requires engaging with other people. I want to reiterate what my pastor said:
“Live, in private” is not only terrible advice, it goes against who God created us to be.
5. Take your losses, in private
Wow. This is the worst thing I’ve ever heard. When what happened to be last month happened, I told seventeen people in the first twelve hours. Why? They’re important to me and I have no interest in pretending life is perfect when it’s not. It also let me know what a great support system I have. Friends and family texted and called. My best friend came over. What I went through was devastating, and I’m still picking up the pieces of my life, but I couldn’t even begin to do that if I was alone.
I also find people much more relatable when they’re honest with their struggles. I never developed the ability to see people as paradigms of virtue. I need to know that people aren’t perfect, or I can’t take them, or their advice, seriously. It’s difficult to hear people properly when they sit on pedestals high above you.
6. Maintain, In private, rebuild yourself, In private
Nope. Just nope. No person has all the tools they need to fix themselves. People, refer back to the quote I posted under 4.
What’s most horrifying about this is that 330,000 people have shared it. 330,000 people believe that we’re meant to live life alone. That’s really sad. To counter this, please share this post on your social media. You can give credit to me if you want, or just copy and paste. All I care about is fighting against this truly horrendous idea that happiness should never be shared and that people should suffer in silence.