(THE NATION) – Every Thanksgiving, Americans are inundated with images of beautiful smiling families, sitting around tables overflowing with food. But what if we saw something that looked more like what real life is like for America's families today?
The reality is, these idyllic images of Thanksgiving are increasingly out of touch with the lived reality of so many Americans, who are working harder than ever and struggling more than ever to afford life's basic needs.
Many Americans live every hour knowing that we are just one accident away from financial ruin, wondering if we'll be able to make it through the month—all while being confronted with constant imagery that everything is great, and everyone is rich or middle class.
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We are more connected than ever before by technology, yet more people than ever report feeling lonely and unhappy. We compare our lives and our relationships to the happiness we see in the media, and find our own to be wanting. We scroll through these perfect-looking lives on Facebook and Instagram, and we retreat to our own imperfect ones feeling like we don't belong.
These illusions we see of perfect lives make us feel all the more isolated, particularly around the holidays. Yet the truth is that most Americans hurt and suffer every day. It's a common feature of being human that we all experience, yet are trained to suppress and treat as taboo. We exhaust our energy trying to present an image of happiness and success, instead of asking others for help when we're hurting.