Over the weekend there was a blog post floating around Facebook about “lying” on social media. The blogger talked about how people only post the beautiful parts of their lives, purposefully edited, to make things looks better than they are. Tonight I read another post, similarly themed, about having a hard time knowing if you’re happy in your own life while you spend a significant amount of your time looking into other’s lives through the perfect little windows that they build on social media. Based on the comments on these particular posts, it’s clear that this sentiment is shared by a lot of people but I see things a little differently.
I post lots of happy pictures throughout my little social media corner of the world and I write here and on Facebook about the good times in my life and the funny things my kids say. While I occasionally step up on my soap box or share current articles that I find interesting, I generally just use my web space as a place of positive documentation – i.e. In 15 years I am not going to enjoy reading a post where I spent my time bitching about my kids or feeling sorry for myself but I will love reliving the time Theo thought the man at the gas station was a genie. My kids will love reading how many times I publicly announce how proud they make me but they would hate to look back and read that I posted every detail about my personal life with their father.
Of course just because I choose not to share things like family or marital issues or how annoyed I sometimes get with my kids, doesn’t mean that all of that isn’t happening or that I’m trying to pretend that it isn’t. There is pretty much a perpetual fight going on at all times between someone within my family, Josh and I argue sometimes and even make each other cry every once in a while and just about everyday I find myself huffing just a little too loudly over something that one of my kids did by accident, but these are personal moments that shouldn’t* be shared with my “friends”. It doesn’t mean that I’m lying about my life, it just means that the internet is not an all encompassing portal to my life. *This goes for over share for the sake of attention or pity too. It’s so awful when people post about how sad they are because their friend’s cousin’s brother in law just died or when a national tragedy happens and immediately my feed is filled with people hugging their kids just a little tighter as they break the news to anyone who hasn’t heard yet.
I thought a lot about how I feel when I read about or see glimpses into other’s lives and I just can’t get on board with the whole “hard to tell if we’re happy because we’re blinded by everyone else’s apparent happiness” thing. A few of my very favorite people to follow on social media are people whom I haven’t been close to in real life but who constantly post about how much fun they’re having with their kids or how happy they are in their current situation. Josh and I have friends that are married who constantly write “love” notes to each other on Facebook that are both hilarious and endearing. I love reading those posts because it’s happy and for me, happiness begets happiness.
A friend once told me that she hates Pinterest because it makes her feel inadequate. Like she isn’t cooking enough or she isn’t crafty enough. I thought she was crazy because Pinterest had just started getting big and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever created. Here I was ripping out pages from magazines and stuffing them into folders so I wouldn’t forget that recipe I read or that awesome room I saw and along came a really fast, easy, free way to share all of these digital “folders” with friends! I saw Pinterest as a way for me to become a better cook and a place where I can steal ideas that make me feel really creative, not something to point out my defects. The difference between my friend and I was obviously just our attitude about ourselves. I’m not the most secure person on the planet but I recognize that my happiness is based on what I focus on and if I’m always looking into other people’s windows wishing what I had/have/was/am then I’m going to spend my life feeling like I never measure up. Social media should be used for connecting with and celebrating people – not as a tool for measuring your own happiness based on others. And if you use it for the right reasons, it won’t matter if someone is “lying” or not.