Last week, while scrolling through Facebook’s news feed on my iPhone while my toddler was momentarily occupied with something, I followed a link to an article on Relevant Magazine titled “Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life.” The article is about the idea that everyone’s life is prettier on the internet, which both makes us individually feel bad and makes the building of true community – based on real lives, real voices and shared experiences – difficult or impossible to build. The author calls the internet a “partial truth.” This line, in particular, has stuck with me: “…we rarely check Facebook when we’re having our own peak experiences. We check it when we’re bored and when we’re lonely, and it intensifies that boredom and loneliness.”
It is true.
I’m well aware of how easy it is to fall into comparison mode on the internet. It is hard, as a blogger, to look at other blogs with large engaged communities and not feel like a lame beginner (while overlooking the hard work and time that blogger put in to get there). It is hard as a writer to see polished essays go viral (without remembering how many rounds of edits and rewrites that essay probably took to polish). It is hard as a creative person to see others churning out cute outfits for their kids, throwing lavish parties or making pretty gifts (without remembering there is likely a mess outside the frame of the photo and that this person likely has help in a variety of ways to make time for their creativity). It is hard as a mother to see photos of clean-scrubbed, well-behaved, adorable kids in beautiful settings (while forgetting we are all unlikely to photograph, let alone share, photos of tantrums).
A few days later, in the middle of uploading some pictures to Instagram of my own daughter, whose photo I had cropped and filtered to make her appear more adorable and clean-scrubbed than she actually was, I realized that I have a different and far more personal reason for recording this filtered view of my life. It is a reminder to myself of these jewel moments, the ones strung along the necklace of motherhood alongside the potty accidents and the moments of exhausted mothers and screaming toddlers. At the end of a day when every moment has felt crazy hard and I’m exhausted to my bones, the way I bring myself back to gratitude for the privilege of raising this child is by editing photos I took of her that day that remind me of the good moments.
Some days I really need a reminder that there were some.
When I look back on these years when she’s grown I want to remember the moments of wonder, not just the moments of struggle and exhaustion. I want to skew my own view a little bit, more to the perfect and beautiful.
But the author of the Relevant Magazine article is right, this gives others a partial, and only partially correct view of my life, of our life. Am I putting others off by my habit of recording the jewels? This is a place where I want to build community, not shut the door on it. Can I be brave enough here to write honestly about my struggles and lessons and not just offer up pretty lists of shallow advice? I hope so.
But I’m still going to post pretty pictures of my kid on Instagram.
What do you think? Do you find the constant stream of seemingly perfect life that comes over the internet difficult? Does it make you want to disconnect? How would you make the world of social media more a place of real connection or community, if you could change it? What do you wish that would look like?
Do you read blogs that are gritty and honest or those that are full of advice and solutions? What blogs do you recommend to other moms?