In an alternate universe, everyone is successful, attractive, well dressed, and live well.  All the guys are funny and the girls are pretty.  Everyone has great hair, and they’re all into some degree of fitness or “healthy living.”

They are either in great relationships or ecstatic to be single. They only wear stylish or expensive designer clothes.

The women have flawless bodies. Their #nofilter, #nomakeup pictures are sights to be envied.  Somehow, they are all photogenic and their lives are perfect. Most of them are models.  All of them are bon vivants.

They dine at the finest restaurants and snack on the most delectably mouthwatering foods.  Their cocktails have the perfect ice to liquid ratio…even their McDonalds french fries are to be desired. They travel to the most exotic places and, somehow, are always in a state of happiness or sheer bliss.

They go to the coolest clubs, attend the swankiest parties, and hang with the most fun (and equally attractive) friends. Their lives are filled with sunshine, fresh flowers, carefree smiles, sweatless gym selfies, Starbucks, and macarons.

Often, they share “inspirational” quotes that are more cliché than inspirational, but you read them anyway. Looking in on this world of permanent pouts and perfectly manicured peace signs, you can’t help but compare your own far less exciting life with theirs. You can’t help but wonder how they manage to constantly “cease the day” when most of the time all you want is for a new one.

In their world, there is no ISIS, no Syria, no Sudan, no Nepal, no Rohingya, no Yemen, no dead bodies floating in the Mediterranean, and no modern day slavery. In their world, there are only cute puppies, scenic views, “outfits-of-the-day”, gratuitous selfies, and designer logos. In their world, followers and ‘likes’ are currency, and beauty is defined by how much is hidden and how much is meticulously fabricated.

It’s easy to get lost in this alternate universe; easy to become engulfed in its shallow, yet anesthetizing curated world. That which was meant to be social has perversely warped into being a digital network of manufactured realities; individually tailored escapism readily available on a mobile device.

This matrix has consumed far too many of us. The irony of it all: if more of us invested as much in the world around us, or cared about people, tangible flesh and blood, as much as we care about our Instagram and Facebook feeds, perhaps such escapism wouldn’t be needed at all.