Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
Well, sort of…
A little bit….
Does a half truth count? Because if so, then YES! Wholeheartedly.
That’s the thing about the photos we post on social media. They are the truth, but they aren’t the whole truth. Our photos capture a moment – usually on a good hair day with our best angle and great lighting. They are the truth in that moment, but – at least for me – they aren’t the truth for the rest of my moments throughout the day.
Our photos are literally just a snapshot of a moment in our lives. A pretty one, at that.
Those beautiful hiking photos I post? They are totally the truth. And I’m better for having gone out to exercise. But what I don’t tell you in those posts is that I’m rushing, I’m stressed, I’m worried about getting back home in time to feed my daughter before she goes down to nap. I’m worried whether I should shower or work while she is asleep. Before I know it, twelve hours have gone by. And I stink. Because I didn’t have time to shower. The little baby hairs around my hairline have curled into unruly ringlets that have left me looking like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket. And now that it’s the end of the day and I’ve eaten three meals plus an unknown amount of snacks and lots of chocolate, my stomach is protruding again through my diastasis (the saga continues) so I look pregnant again (and I’m definitely not). I don’t recognize my belly button (what the eff is that thing?) and I just almost died tripping over my daughter’s xylophone that she left on the middle of the kitchen floor.
I don’t post photos of that. I don’t post photos of the dark circles under my eyes, my messy kitchen, my even messier living room, or my failed cooking attempts either. I don’t post photos of my screaming child whose latest trick is to scream bloody murder whilst clinging to her diaper change table, rolling herself over while I try unsuccessfully to pin her back down so she doesn’t get poop all over herself – and me, for that matter (how the hell is she so strong? And how does something so small make so much gosh darn poop?). I don’t post about the arguments I have with my husband. I don’t post photos or videos of myself, mid meltdown, talking my poor husband’s ear off for the umpteenth time about how frustrated I am with my stomach or what the heck I’m doing with my life.
And Madison (my daughter) is cute. Really cute. But she also bites me. Like, a lot. And hard! She scratches me too. And by gosh, she doesn’t always do what I want her to do when I want her to do it. But you don’t see that. Because I don’t show you. I only show you her angelic side (admittedly half of the reason behind that is because it’s never convenient to grab for my phone to snap a photo while Madison is trying to bite the extra skin on my stomach. I’m too busy trying to save myself to grab my phone).
We – the collective we – don’t tend to post the dark stuff. Sometimes we do. I’ve done it before. But mostly, we don’t. We post a pretty little snippet of our lives, one that we may wish represented the entirety of it. We post our filtered photo accompanied by some inspirational comment. We may even admit to having a tough day, but the photo we post along with it is usually one of us on a better day, with better lighting, on a good hair day, and a good face day too.
The point is, we don’t often post photos of what makes up the majority of our days. The photos of us losing our freakin’ minds because life is too freakin hard today and I just can’t even!!!!!! We don’t post the thoughts we think people will judge us for (and let’s be honest, they will).
I’m not saying it’s wrong. There are enough things going on in the world that are dark and stormy, so it’s nice to see some positivity in our social media feeds. The problem – or at least my problem – is that I look at those pretty photos and they make me question myself and my life. There’s actually a name for it. It’s called social comparison, and studies reveal that using Facebook has actually led to depressive symptoms because of this phenomenon.
And even though I not only love my life (I really do), but also that logically I know these photos are only a snapshot, I choose instead to focus on the incorrect notion that they represent that person’s life entirely. And I find myself asking stupid questions and comparing myself (especially my body) – my real life – to their photo, or half truth.
We’ve given social media so much power that it can cause us to unravel in an instant. And if we keep comparing ourselves to what we see in our social media feeds, we will never be pretty enough, skinny enough, tall enough, rich enough, adventurous enough, smart enough or savvy enough. We will never be enough.
But it doesn’t stop there.
As if the social comparison weren’t enough, there is another pesky little problem that preys on our confidence level on social media:
The like factor.
How many likes did our photo get?
Don’t hide from me. I know you get excited when you get a lot of likes. The rush you get is enough to distract you multiple times a day from your actual life to check your phone and your “like” status. I even know someone who will take a photo down if it doesn’t get enough likes (and that’s the whole truth).
It’s ok. You can admit it. You’re safe here.
I’m just as guilty as you are. I’ll post a photo with a nice filter, one that makes me feel good about myself. After I post said photo, I go on about my day. And without fail, every so often, I get distracted by my phone. I shamefully check how many new likes my photo got. And gosh darn it, I feel good when it gets a lot.
There. I said it.
But when it doesn’t get a lot of likes? No bueno.
Only two likes? Dammit. A small piece of me dies as I put my phone down, and get back to work (where was I?). Like a puppy, I get distracted again thirty (ok, five) minutes later. Three more likes? I’ve got to up my game tomorrow.
It’s funny because it’s true.
And sad. So sad…
So there it is, friends. The Facebook half truth. There is life (truth), and then there is Facebook Truth, which is not necessarily real life, at least not always. We need to remind ourselves of that the next time we encounter a photo that causes us to spin out.
This isn’t going to stop me from doctoring up my pictures and posting good times, of course. Because I won’t deny them their moment of glory. There are good times, and it makes me happy to share them. But it’s important to remember that life is made up of a series of moments, good and bad, all strung together like a set of twinkle lights (I love twinkle lights). They are not all good. They are not all bad. But they are all beautiful, with or without a filter.
In the spirit of truth, I have decided that for the next week, I will share with you my Facebook truth. The whole truth. A collection of good photos, yes, but also, the photos I don’t want you to see. Because they make me uncomfortable. They make me feel incredibly vulnerable, and sometimes even shameful too.
I’ll show you my messy kitchen. My disorganized closet. My disorganized room because I’m cleaning out the closet today. My messy hair. My tired face. My screaming child. My still not flat stomach after over a year of having a baby. My real life. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always admirable. But I sure do love it.
This is my Facebook Truth. Do you dare to show me yours?
I challenge you to post your own real photos for the rest of this week. Do it proudly, and post it with the hashtag Facebook Truth. Let’s do our part to show off the truth – all of it. Because good or bad, the truth shall set us free.