Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Reply to: Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life

Perhaps some of you also read this article by relevant magazine which went viral last week and blew  up my twitter feed. I saw several 'church friends' repost it and so I finally sat down to read it by the pool on Saturday morning. You know me, I like to be up on what's being talked about. As many of you know I'm pretty involved in social media. While I don't use stat trackers or try to be popular I am on Facebook, twitter, this blog, Pinterest, and Instagram.... Oh and foursquare, endomondo, myfitnesspal, etc. you get the idea: I'm socially connected. 

I do hear what people say about social media and I usually know what they're talking about. I've received the messages connecting you to people you'd be better off leaving behind. I've been the victim of a few status updates of angry, immature people. I've been defriended once or twice by people trying to prove some point. I've read the TMI posts we all love to hate where people over share the ugly side of their relationship. I'm up on it. 

So I read the article with an open mind. Hey, what does this Christian magazine writer have to say about IG? I'd like to know.

But halfway through the first paragraph I was pretty sure she and I weren't on the same page. I have never had a conversation in which someone told me that Pinterest made them hate their house or that they had to delete someone because of jealousy. And while I understand her point about how we post a  picture of  the fabulous meal were having with friends but not the mess we have to clean up - isn't that assumed? Do you really want a follow up photo of me loading my dishwasher with my unrinsed dishes (hey, that's how this works at my place)?  Do you want me to post photos of taking out the trash and having it leak all over my floor? Because even though that happens from time to time and is gross but relatable I don't want a feed full of life out takes.  I know what garbage and dishes are like. And I love seeing your family enjoying a meal much more.

She goes on to say that couples post beautiful pictures of themselves but don't tell about the fight they had three days before. Well, enter the honest box with me for a moment... I don't want to read on Facebook or any other social media site about your fight with your spouse. It is not the place to throw them under the bus and when you do, we are all quietly embarrassed for you. But I think it's safe to say we know that every couple has their own 'stuff'. I'll speak for myself when I say I'll happily like your photo even if you don't have a perfect marriage to back it up - that's real life. 

But let me get to the  heart of what really didn't sit right with me about this article...

I am a grown adult woman. As such I am responsible for myself. It is not your job to make me feel better about myself by not enjoying your life so I won't have the chance to be jealous of you. That's on me. When I see people post things that are awesome (like one of my bosses being in Italy this week) I don't think 'man I'm a loser compared to her' ... More often I think 'I've always  wanted to go to Europe, I should start saving a little each month so I can someday'.

Your lives oh friends and social media mavens inspire me. They make me happy for you and on many occasions make me want to take a page from your book. But happy people have an easier time being happy for people and as someone who firmly believes it is your own responsibility to build a life you love, I have done just that.

Over the last fee years I've worked an extra part-time job to fund traveling. I love to travel and I made seeing more of the world one of my 20s goals. So from time to time I get comments from people saying they're jealous of how much I get to do. I get that. Many of them are in different phases of life where travel may be less of an option. But I've never felt from any of these people that they truly resent the way I'm choosing to explore rather than doing life the way they have. In fact, they usually take a 'keep posting so I can live vicariously through you' approach. 

I'm not going to hate my life or dumb down my fun for anyone.   My life isn't perfect - in fact, often times its hard.  But I don't need to Instagram a photo of myself crying after reading a horrible article some idiot wrote about my Dad or a screen capture of the hard stuff I'm working through in  relationship for you to know that I have my own challenges. I am a sinner living in the same fallen world as you. We all have our own junk. 

Lastly, she talks about how social media is more or less a false sense of community. And to this I say with all due respect: duh. If your deepest friendship is through Facebook than you are relationally starved. Community is build in the face-to-face. And in doing every day life together. For some of us with faraway friends this can't always be face-to-face and we have to make more effort with FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, and texts. But community isn't you liking my status update or me commenting on your blog. I think we can all agree social media isn't a replacement for real friendships. It is another form/layer of community but its not a supplement for the real thing. 

I hope this post does not sound like a bash of the relevant writer. I mean no disrespect to her opinions. But I hope that I've been able to flip this back onus and perhaps challenge us to take a little more responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, actions, and initiative. Build the life you love and share if you will on social media and I will be there to cheer you on. 



Melissa H said...

Well. Now I AM jealous! You beat me to this post!
Great! I'll probably just link it!

Good word!

Nichole said...

Great post, Becca. I definitely over-share the good in my life online, and not usually the bad and well its not to make my life seem better. I don't think anyone thinks I'm over glamorizing anything or that anyone is jealous of me. I'll have to read the article now, but I totally agree with ya!

Lindsey @ Let the Light Shine said...

I really enjoyed this post, Becca! I agree with everything you wrote. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

lil desiqua said...

I haven't read the article (yet) but I totally agree with your thoughts. Honestly, I don't think anyone wants to see the "ugly" or "bad" stuff, and by sharing the good in our lives doesn't mean we are out to make other people jealous, we're just living our lives!

Great post!

Katie said...

I agree with you 100%. I use IG and especially my blog as a journal of my life. Why would I post pictures of the dirty dishes that led to a fight with my husband or the oil my car left on the driveway or whatever. Of course those things happen, but not only do other people not need to know about them, but I also don't need to chronicle them for the future. In fact, when people complain about similar things on fb or twitter, I usually tune them out as whiners and over-sharers. Social media isn't where my friendships live-- they just give me another medium to help communicate with my existing friends. Of course, there are some who probably can't say that, and they should probably re-evaluate their relationships...

Kari said...

I love this post and agree with it 100%. Some people have difficulty being happy for other peoples' successes and joys, and they think showing only the good parts of your life is disingenuous. I personally love seeing the great parts of peoples' lives and really feel awkward when I see people airing their dirty laundry regarding their spouses, kids and friends on social media. Some things are better left private. I also agree that social media is not a replacement for real friendships, though there are many people whose only friends are known in this way. It's just not the same as actual human interaction. Thanks for sharing this!