Social Perfectionism

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplashlens


“I am imperfect and yet my imperfections, like any great work of art, are what makes me a masterpiece.” Author Unknown

I heard a new term on the news last week, “social perfectionism”, new to me at least. I believe the term has been around for a little while. It is based on the idea that how we view the world is influenced by unrealistic expectations of what we view on social media. We strive for the perfect job, perfect home, perfect body, perfect significant other, perfect health, etc.

With apps we can retouch, reshape, and filter our photos covering perceived flaws, sharpening the picture, or distorting the image so much that we alter it completely putting forth a false narrative. Although the internet has only been around for about thirty years, the idea of distorting an image is much older. About two thousand years earlier, Patanjali writes about this in the Yoga Sutras:

viparyayo mithya-jnanam atad-rupa-pratishtham (1:8)
False knowledge comes from misperception.

Ancient Yogis refer to a veil (maya) that colors our perception, just like an Instagram filter, the filters in our minds can alter our reality as well. The mind is influence by our upbringing, cultural, beliefs, values, likes and dislikes, relationships, societal expectations, and past experiences. If we can clear away the filter of misperception…lift the veil…we can see our true nature.

Why do we strive for perfection in the first place? We should embrace our perceived flaws and imperfections. Joyce Meyers describes it beautifully, “Each of us has our own unique flaws, like cracked pots. If a light is put within a flawless pot, and then covered, no one is able to see the light within the pot. Perfect pots are not able to reveal internal light to illuminate the way for others. God chooses to shine through imperfect, cracked pots.”

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