The Lies Our Pictures Tell
On Valentine's Day, my car was rear ended, I had an unpleasant meeting for work, and I had to visit the doctor and multiple body shops before the end of the day. I was grumpy, overwhelmed, and just plain exhausted by 9:00 am. But, if you looked at my Instagram feed, you would see an adorable picture of me and my husband, preceded by smily photos of my studio and yummy food.
It is so easy to make an assumption based on the pictures that others choose to show us.
Lately, I've been working hard on my blog and social media presence. It takes a big effort to focus on producing good content, having an interesting caption, and making your husband pose for the best picture. I'm typically not one of those people who complain about the facade that social media can produce; after all, it's a branding tool at it's core. You want people to fall in love with your brand, with your style, and ultimately, with you.
Social media, just like anything in our lives, is an attempt to make ourselves interesting and valuable to others.
However, it would be ridiculous to act like what we consume on social media doesn't often influence our confidence and self worth. When you're having a rough day, it is so easy to think that someone else has it better. In fact, my social feed usually makes it look like I am so much more put together than I really am! So, if we know this reality about ourselves, what stops us from believing this about other people?
In order to break the lies our pictures tell, we have to realize that the problem is two-fold. The first part of the lie resides in our perception of other people. We always assume that because someone looks like they're fine, then they are fine. This issue exists with or without social media. As inherently selfish people, we struggle to be empathetic and intuitive when we ourselves are struggling.
The second part of the lie is the idea that in order to "break" the social media facade, we must become overly transparent on a public forum. I don't know about you, but I don't need the world knowing about all the little issues in my life. There's a difference between being authentic and over-sharing, and finding trusted friends to confide in will always be more effective than airing your dirty laundry to your followers.
If you are a business, a brand, or a blogger, you can't avoid using social media in this day and age. And while I'm all for honesty, let's get real - I'm never going to post a picture of bank statements and stress-filled arguments. No, I'm going to show you my eyelash extensions and new workout pants. I understand that social media is deceiving and often makes us feel like we don't measure up to someone that looks like they have the latest and greatest of everything. But we do have a choice. Social media can be a nagging insecurity, or it can be your platform to showcase the good things in your life.
My Instagram feed didn't show you all of the bad aspects of my day, but it didn't show you all the little blessings either. I didn't post a picture of the client who gave me a card at the lowest point of my afternoon. I didn't show the bottle of wine and chocolate that my husband brought home because, as he said, the way to my heart is through my stomach. So, maybe you don't see everyone's struggles on social media, but you don't see all of their blessings either. When you have a choice of what kind of message you share, why wouldn't you choose something good? The world doesn't need another negative newsfeed.
I hope that this post makes you think twice about saying "the grass is always greener" when looking at someone's social profile, but I hope it also makes you consider the type of message you want to put out in the world. Connection doesn't happen through pictures, but great marketing does. Look at social media for what it is - a tool. Leave it at that, and take the time to get real with people behind the camera.