|Both candid photos were taken from a significant distance in an attempt to capture real moments. One is picture-perfect and social media "worthy". One is far from it. Both are who we are.|
The Dilemma of Sharing on Social Media
Guys, we have a dilemma.
I've been mulling over this topic/post and how best to approach it for a little while now. I've discussed it under a more general piece in the past, but after some thought and encouragement from a great fellow blogger friend I feel like I need to dedicate an entire post to it and address something that's eating at me, so here it is...
What you see on social media, isn't the whole truth.
Now, I'm not saying we're lying or that other bloggers are lying (I think everyone should keep in mind that we have a great deal of control over the images we project online), but I am saying that we as bloggers and people put our best feet forward on social media. Just like the pictures above, every day I post for us online I have to choose between real-life moments to share and often it's the perfect-looking shots that make the cut.
After all, what would you rather see, a cute picture of two siblings building a sandcastle by the ocean or an overwhelmed sensory kiddo unraveling momentarily at the end of a long day? Be honest!
I feel like there is a certain expectation that weighs on us to inspire smiles and laughs with every post we publish--I say "we" in a general sense as bloggers, parents and adults putting bits and pieces of our lives out there for an audience of friends and strangers to judge. There's almost an unspoken rule in social media--if you're not entertaining, you're wasting valuable feed space.
I get it! When I bring up my feeds I'm eager to see what people I know or admire are doing and I find myself frustrated when people make a habit of negative-posting over and over again. In turn, I engage less with people that tend to rant or complain a lot about little things--the exception for me is anything related to social issues. Gimme all your rants about injustice!
I love the occasional earnest post about someone's daily struggles and I'm right there with you if you've suffered some sort of tragedy, but would I honestly engage with you online if you detailed every frustrating moment ... or even most of them?
While I've been probing this topic in my mind for some time, it all came to a head for me recently when we received a comment on social media remarking on how we "must be the happiest family in the world". This wasn't the first time we've heard this online--in fact, comments just like this are sprinkled throughout our social media.
I just took a quick pause to address a child for calling his brother annoying and mocking him by the way--real life.
You'd think this would make me happy. You'd think I'd be proud of the fact that whatever portion of the virtual world out there that follows us thinks we're that happy all the time. While I'm super appreciative of this kind commenter (this comment was definitely coming from a lovely place), it made me sad.
It made me sad because I know what it's like to follow someone on social media and think--wow, they have got it together, why can't I get my $^!@ together like them?
I never want to make anyone feel like they're less-than because our feed looks picture-perfect.
The truth is, we are all just floundering around in this world, struggling with the expectations we've set for ourselves as well as those dictated by society. Not every day is a good day. In fact, most days are a mix of good and bad.
While I try to make sure I capture candid, truly happy moments to share with you guys, there are millions of frustrating, sad and angry moments you don't see.
Every family has their struggles. We post about some of ours here, but when it comes to images on social media, I just don't know how to balance things out. I don't want to take shots of our kids when they're upset and publish them--I'd feel like I was exploiting and belittling their feelings in that moment, not to mention the fact I'm too busy addressing those moments to whip my camera out.
When things get difficult or incidences need to be addressed we weigh 3 things before talking about them publicly:
1. Is this related to the focus of our blog?
2. Will this benefit our readers if we discuss it?
3. Will it violate our kids' privacy (or ours) in some way or shame them?
If something doesn't meet all 3 criteria, we deal with it privately and it doesn't become public knowledge. For the virtual world, it's as if it never happened.
We want to be honest and helpful when we can, but we also need to maintain a sense of propriety and privacy with what we share.
Yes, we might discuss things in a general sense now and again, but we don't narrate every incident, every day. And because of this, most of what you see online is a collection of the great moments, which creates a somewhat unintentionally false narrative of what our lives truly are.
I wish every moment of every day was just like our instagram feed, but I can assure you they're not. We are like every other family out there in the sense that we are far from perfect--frustrated chaos-magnets extraordinaire!
We love each other and we share some truly amazing moments, but that's not all we share.
So my question is, how do we share our lives with you, keep you engaged, keep you entertained, but not lead you to believe that this is the only dimension to our lives?
We openly talk about our struggles when we feel it's appropriate and helpful, but it seems pictures carry much more value than words on social media.
How do we keep it real without being so real that we're ... too real?
This post is in no way sponsored and reflects our personal thoughts and opinions.