One of my favorite current-day authors, Shauna Niequist, wrote an article last week for Relevant Magazine called “Instagram’s Envy Effect.” In it, she argues that everyone’s life looks better on social media, where sharing only the best part of your story is all too tempting and easy.
She makes an excellent point.
On the Internet, and social media in particular, it’s just as easy to filter out those unsightly, undesirable aspects of life, as it is to filter in faux-beauty via the Instagram app. To a large degree, you can create and tell whatever story you choose, and most people won’t know the difference. And even people who KNOW the difference may still fall prey to Social Media Envy.
Your life > My life.
I know that I’m guilty of it on both sides. On the one hand, I tend to use social media to share life’s beautiful moments – my children’s milestones, festive holiday gatherings, a beautiful dinner table, a night out with friends. I’m sure I’ve given the impression that I’m always perfectly accessorized and eating gourmet food and have a gorgeous family to boot. (They are gorgeous, by the way, but they also have bed-head and mismatched socks a lot.)
Funny how that rushed weeknight spaghetti dinner where I splattered tomato sauce on my t-shirt and the kids were sassy and my husband was exhausted didn’t make Facebook.
For most of us, it’s not intentional. We’re not TRYING to one-up the rest of the Internet. Most of us are thinking that people want to see the good stuff. The high points of life. The problem is that EVERYONE’s sharing the good stuff, and when life’s not so good – and let’s be honest, it’s not good all the time – it can be brutal to consume.
Which brings me to the other side. Ever feel like your life isn’t measuring up because that old friend looks amazing, or so-and-so went to St. Lucia for spring break and documented it with 271 photos, or wow, that guy’s always dining at the hottest new restaurants? I know I feel that way sometimes, despite my earlier admission that I choose mostly the highlights of my own life to share. On social media, it’s easy to get a false sense of other people’s reality.
Case in point: At TKG, we like to post pics of our office antics on social. Why? Because we mostly sit in front of computers, and who wants to see that? But in reality that’s how we spend 95% of our days. Sure, we have a pool table and a Wii and go out for beers on “First Thursday” – and TKG *IS* a fun place to work – but we wouldn’t be able to do those things if we weren’t spending the vast amount of time pumping out quality work for our clients.
Still, we get comments wondering if we just have fun all day long, because it sure looks that way on Facebook. I can assure you that life is not a continuous party here, as awesome as that sounds. We work hard, and use those moments of fun as a way to connect with each other away from the computer screen.
I’d say that the same goes for our personal lives, too. For most of us, those weeknight spaghetti dinners are the norm, not the glamorous night out documented via filtered photos on Instagram.
Social media is a fabulous way to connect, reconnect, learn, make friends, and generate business. Use it for those things, but remember it tells only part of the story. Take what you see with a grain of salt, get out from behind your computer or phone screen, connect in person, and you’ll likely get the full story.