Friday Thoughts About Projecting Happiness & How It Could Be Used Against You in Court

Recently,  I heard about a U. S. civil case between a previous high school student and a teacher, wherein the teacher pleaded guilty to third-degree rape and endangering the welfare of a child. The previous high school student sued the teacher, the school district, and the school officials seeking damages for, among other things, “repeated sexual injury and assault,” “nightmares and sleep deprivation,” “emotional distress,” “alienation of affections,” and “loss of enjoyment of life.”

With a lawsuit at hand, the school district's lawyers began prying into the previous high school student's social media feed. Her feeds included smiling photos of her and her boyfriend, her participating in rock climbing,  drinking with friends, working at a veterinary hospital, etc. These feeds from her social media painted a different image to the judge and lawyers in comparison to her claims in court; in particular, of "alienation of affections" and "loss of enjoyment of life."

This had me thinking...a lot.

It is very natural and common for us to have the desire to share happy moments with others yet hide the unhappy/bothersome moments. After all, who likes hearing people complain and/or release negative emotions? I'd think not many, especially if it's constant.

I hate to say this, but I tend to be an eccedentesiast -- someone who tends to be reluctant when it comes to displaying genuine emotion. I am a very private person, and have a difficult time sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings with others in an open environment. The other factor is that I have trust issues. Even if I don't feel particularly well,  whether it is emotionally or physically, I reply with, "Fine, thanks. And yourself?" if someone in passing asks how I'm doing. I am great at listening to others, but am not so great at opening up to others.

Most of what I share on social media are relatively "happy" and "positive" occurrences in my life. In person as well, I present myself as a "happy" and "pleasant" person. If you ask people who "know" me to describe what first comes to mind when they think of me, I'd think most of them would say that I smile and/or laugh a lot, or that I am a "nice girl." But the truth is, I'm not that way all the time. There are moments when I am utterly depressed, upset, angry, distant - for hours, days, and/or months. I just choose not to share this part of my life with anyone with exception to my husband. In a lot of cases, not even with my family or friends. I worry that if I do, it will lead to others feeling pity for me {which is not what I want} or that they will be burdened with worried thoughts about me {which I also do not want}. Social media and certain personal interactions only captures snippets of my life. Our lives.

Projecting happiness is nothing new. We conform to society's expectations to project such happiness because otherwise, we would be ostracized.  Most of us keep our truest feelings to ourselves in fear of not being understood and/or feeling worse about ourselves. I think most people instinctively understand this human psyche. Yet, it seems as though victims in legal situations are punished for such basic social conformity. If the victim is not constantly updating their social media feeds about emotional distress, does it mean that they are actually not battling such emotions? The most likely event is that the victim wishes to feel normal, to be a part of society, and thus projects happiness -- whether it is authentic in that moment in time or if it is completely inauthentic.

Sorry for such a heavy topic on a Friday! Just had to get that off my chest.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi there! My husband and I are newlyweds ♥ We adopted our beagle, Louie, in 2011. This blog allows me to chronicle our lives together as a family. Thank you for stopping by! WWW.KIDGRANNY.BLOGSPOT.COM

6 comments :

  1. Sometimes it's just really good to get it off your chest! I'm the same way. All last week I was feeling pretty crumby but it was only until today that I was able to even mention it on the blog when I'm feeling all ok. But I think if I look back to my activities last week it would seem like nothing was really wrong with me. People really do forget that whatever is portrayed online is literally a snippet of someone's life. That you can have these moments that look "fun" or "happy" but really deep inside our truest feeling is nothing but. xx

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    1. Thanks for reading! I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels this way. I was not feeling my best for some time and I heard about the civil case and it just had me enraged. I just don't think it's fair to judge someone's quality of life solely based on what they *want* to share on social media, especially in the court room.

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  2. How thought provoking.And somewhat worrying that one's social media account can be examined in a legal context. I usually only portray one side of myself too to others and on social media because I just don't like to share the sad/heavy stuff.

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    1. I totally understand! The scary thing about social media is that once you put it out there, it's there to stay, even if you have a private account and/or deleted certain feeds/posts/etc.

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  3. It's ok to get things off your chest c: Writing is a good way to do it!
    I must say that 9/10 I post on social media are happy positive things.
    Yet most of these happy posting are just a fraction of the day.
    I actually don't post a lot on my personal FB anymore. It seems like
    with social media nowadays, you can't be really private or anonymous
    anymore. Xx

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    1. Thanks for understanding! I agree, even with "private" and/or "anonymous" features, I feel that anything you share online can easily become public knowledge/news.

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