Let me set the scene for you. I’m on a lunch break, sitting in my car, eating fast food. There are crumpled diet Red Bull cans in each of the side doors and a Petro’s sweet tea half full from a week ago sitting in my cup holder. I’m pretty sure the orange floating in it is starting to mold. I haven’t washed my hair in maybe 5 days (for the men reading this, most women shower every day but they don’t wash their hair every day, and the guys from Queer Eye say that’s fine so I believe them because dry shampoo spray still says shampoo in the name and so that’s just science ).
Anyway, I’m kind of feeling like a hot mess. Last night I hung up laundry that had been done for 2 days and I promised by husband I would bring him home dinner... which I eventually did... at 10 pm. I think I’ve cried every day for the past few days for a variety of reasons both warranted and practically invented by me/my anxiety/ and a tendency to be neurotic. I’m generally not THAT messy of a person but alas, I have been recently.
So anyway, on said lunch break, I get on ~*the Instagram*~ and scroll for a bit, flooded with all kinds of bright and shiny pictures while I sit in my trash can car. Then I get on my own profile to see how many people clicked the link in my bio for my last blog post (guys I really am that extra).
But while I was scrolling through my own endless pictures of tropical beaches, and my wedding and my husband and snow capped mountains and candid laughing I just thought... wow that is not a fair representation of my life. At least, not right now and not most days.
The life I show the world on the internet is a fake representation of reality. Even in my moments of complaining and sadness, I try to make it presentable and funny.
I’m sure you’re probably doing the same thing. And I think that is awesome because seriously, I love a highlight reel.
Please show me your cute baby and your trip to London and your engagement and incredibly decorated Christmas tree and front porch.
Honestly, I don’t advocate that we should change our internet presence to be less than a slide show of high points (with maybe the occasional low). Recently I’ve began thinking of social media as a scrapbook made public. No one puts blurry or crappy pictures in a scrapbook. No one added a cute polka dot frame to a picture of your subpar homemade spaghetti or of your cubicle that you sit in everyday. It’s only the good stuff.
Still, looking at my own feed, I was faced with this problem I couldn’t shake. Although we all know, that the internet is kind of fake and everyone’s life is complex and hard and beautiful. How do people know my life isn’t perfect so they aren’t comparing their lives to mine? How do I balance making my virtual scrapbook pretty and be honest? Should I tone it down? Make more angsty posts about sad stuff? Essentially, how can I ensure that I’m being authentic on social media?
My conclusion: I can’t.
I mean sure I could start posting pics of me crying over a commercial for a ping pong table (have you guys seen that one? My heart...) or sharing every gritty detail of a frustrating day in the office, but the whole world doesn’t need to and doesn’t want to see that. I don’t want to see other people doing that, I want to look at virtual scrapbook pages.
So instead, I have decided im an authentic person because I keep it real, in real life.
See if you don’t know me, I’ll show you a powerpoint version of my life and I will see yours and that will be plenty.
If you do, I want you to see my occasional diary entries, the blurry outtakes, the polaroids. And I want to see yours too!
In real life, I will tell you exactly how I’m doing if you ask, to a fault, even if that means a 15 minute story about nothing, even if you didn’t ask how I was doing . I will share my joy over the smallest things as well as my grief over equally small things. My Instagram will probably not feature my messy car or pictures of me in polar bear pajama pants and my husband’s tee shirt.
I don’t want people to worry over being “fake” on social media, worry about being fake in real life. Think of the edits you put on conversations that aren’t needed or the filters you add to your interests that you wish you didn’t.
Try that hobby, tell your friend that you’re going through a rough patch, or that you miss them. Get bangs(or don’t). Don’t be afraid to be sad. Don’t be afraid to be happy.
Don’t worry about if your social media is accurate to what your “real life” is, worry about if your real life is what feels real for you.