Last week, as I was preparing dinner, I found myself admiring the lovely pot of vegetables cooking on the stovetop. It was so lovely, that I couldn’t help but to grab my phone and snap a picture.
“This will look pretty on Instagram,” I thought to myself as I stirred. “Or maybe Facebook? I should familiarize myself with Snapchat. That may really be the best.”
Next, I sent a picture to my husband so he could see the healthy and visually-appealing meal we would be having that evening. I was completely tickled with myself.
As I was mentally preparing the words to go with this scrumptious post, it hit me – this was fake news!
This in no way, shape, or form represents the majority of the meals I put on the table. The night before, I made cream cheese and chicken stuffed crescent rolls. Prepackaged crescent rolls that I can’t imagine are horribly good for you. The meal was great and the kids gobbled it up, but not once did I think to snap a picture of the chicken squares to post on any, or all, forms of social media.
This got me thinking. Why not the chicken squares? Why the pot filled with a variety of delicious veggies?
Because it’s about appearance – isn’t it? Social media is a platform for showing the people in our lives what we want them to see. We get to choose. Are they going to see the good? The bad? Or the in-between?
My guess is that most of us default toward the good – whether we realize it, or not.
I never once thought to take a picture of my chicken squares, but immediately thought to snap a shot of the veggie pot.
I also have never thought to snap pictures of myself when I’m bed-heady and puffy-eyed after a full night of sleep. Who would want to see that? No, thank you. The pictures I post are usually of something I have deemed exciting and worthy of sharing.
And if you think for one moment that I haven’t scrolled through every picture snapped in those few seconds to find the one where I think I look the best – you are wrong. I always choose the picture I think looks best.
Isn’t that why we hold the camera (or phone – excuse me) up (never down!) when we take pictures – because it supposedly makes us look more slender? Or why some people put their hands on their hips and lift a leg the minute someone says, “Cheese!”?
We want the best version of ourselves on display. That means the best-looking, most kind, healthy-eating, most amazing parent, brilliant, buttoned-up version of ourselves.
And that’s okay. This isn’t meant to shame all of you on social media who post your most beautiful pictures. Post away! You can bet your bottom dollar I’m doing the same. Remember how I started? I completely do this. In some ways, I have to imagine we all do.
I don’t think the problem is that we want to share pretty pictures – the problem is when we start to believe the pretty pictures completely and accurately portray every part of a person’s life.
Someone can look absolutely incredible through the lens of social media – and still have some major issues. Or minor. I mean – who doesn’t have issues? (If you responded with “Me,” that may be an issue. Just saying.)
I believe we need to guard our hearts and minds when we scroll through our feeds. And I believe we need to teach our children the same. What we see isn’t the full picture. We see what people want us to see. And there is a whole lot that goes on in the blank space – in those moments when nothing is being shared.
The most perfect looking couple still argues. The most beautiful looking woman still gets pimples. The most accomplished children still whine. The best cook still serves her children boxed mac and cheese (or at least I hope so – that stuff is good.) The person on a luxurious vacation had to spend a lot of money, and time, to get there.
Nobody is perfect. Sure, on social media, some people may look pretty close to perfect – but it’s just not true. We all fall short. We all mess up. We wake up bed-heady and puffy-eyed, without an ounce of make-up on (unless we forgot to take it off – and in that case it may be smeared all over your face.)
(Case in point – This is me, right now. I haven’t showered or brushed my hair and I am still in my pajamas. And it’s almost 2 in the afternoon.)
My pot of veggies nearly turned social media post reminded me of this truth. I need to be careful of how I view social media. And I also want to be authentic in how I portray myself. Does this mean I’m going to stop posting my favorite pictures? Um. No.
But what it does mean is that I am going to try to start sprinkling in some of the not-so-pretty stuff, too.
The stuff that says, “Hey. I’m human. I just burnt my toast and yelled at my kids. Some days I’m rocking it. And some days…..well, some days not so much.”
Because some days are prepackaged crescent roll days. And others are beautiful veggie pot days. It’s time to remember that both exist. For me, it’s time to start showing both.
(Disclaimer – I love the yummy looking, healthy meals that people post. They make me want to eat healthier and are super pretty, too. This is in no way saying those posts are bad. They are awesome. Keep doing your healthy food post thing. I just realized for me, in that moment, it wasn’t an accurate portrayal of who I am. That’s all.)