I follow a few photographers on Instagram. And it never ceases to amaze me how talented they are at their jobs. And I don’t just mean that they take beautiful pictures, I mean they manage to capture just the right moment in life. Somehow when they take pictures, everyone looks perfect. No one’s hair is blowing the wrong way in the wind. Their smiles are that amazing, mouth open, eyes smiling, flawless skin kind of happiness. Every moment they capture looks like something straight out of a “Visit California” commercial. And we all know that for the most part, social media isn’t real, right? We’ve all seen the articles exposing the dirty little truths behind social media pictures, the staged pictures and the retakes. So we know cognitively that someone’s social media account doesn’t accurately reflect their actual life, but if you’re like me, when I scroll through my feeds, cognition takes a back seat to the heart and the heart can’t handle the truth all of the time so it relishes in the insecurities and half truths that social media brings.
Don’t get me wrong! I love social media. If you are unlucky enough to follow me you know that I adore posting pictures of our son and all of the quirky things that usually only I find humorous. But lately, social media has my inner insecure teenage girl running rampant. We use social media for so many things. We announce huge life events. We track the growth of our kids. We capture that hilarious moment when our aunt got knocked over by that huge wave at the beach. We post pictures of our food. (No one really knows why, but I am the biggest culprit of doing it.) We do every thing we can to make our lives look as perfect, hilarious, delicious and achieving as possible. We live for those Instagramable moments.
But there’s a darker side and I know that we are all aware of it because this is the zillionth blog posting you have ready about the evils of social media. But this week I fell hard for it and I need to come clean so I can push this little demon back into his cage. We also allow social media to tell us how unfulfilling our lives feel sometimes. We forget that these Instagramable moments are just that, a moment, caught at just the right time, with just the right filter and just the right light. We forget that they are not real life. We believe the lie that our social media feeds are around simply to remind us of what we don’t have.
Here are the lies that I allowed Instagram to tell me these past few days:
- I don’t have any friends. I wasn’t invited to any #Friendsgivings and so no one actually wants to be around me.
The truth of this is that my friendships are a little scattered these days. My closest friends are strewn all across the country and the ones that are nearby, including myself, are insanely busy. Finding a date and time that everyone can come together in between sport practices and babysitters and work events and work itself and school events is just nearly impossible. This is a season where my friendships are few and far between and so I get snippets of good relationship instead of a giant feast of them.
- Everyone is more successful/creative/fun/just generally better than me.
This is always the fastest culprit to knock me down. I know some truly talented individuals, who literally are changing our world in real life. And it’s easy for me, a stay at home mom whose biggest achievement for the week was conquering a good chimichurri sauce to feel like I can’t stand up in their world. This is obviously complete crap because a) have you ever tasted a good chimichurri? It’s legit, I promise and b) I know that no one’s real worth is determined by anything but the worthiness we find in loving well and being loved. But still, this demon likes to play and play hard.
- I am a terrible mother, who doesn’t play with her kid enough, buy him the right, trendy clothes, turn everyday objects into magical creations or feed him the correct, nutritious meals.
This one cuts to the quick because motherhood is already a quagmire of emotional pitfalls and stumbling blocks for me and because all of those things that I listed are areas that I really am not Mary Poppins with. But, I’m a good mom. I know I am. And I am very fortunate to have many people in my life who help me remember that when all I can see are the perfect bento boxes and glorious crafts littering my social media feed.
- I don’t have enough stuff or the right stuff or enough money in general.
Put a fork in me, because by the time this little friend comes to play, I am done! Lights out! That’s the ballgame. Time to go home. We live in a world that tells us that stuff is important. And so we want stuff. We want the house in the right neighborhood with the right square footage. We want the best clothes with the perfect accessories. We want the newest, shiniest car. We want, we want, we want. And somehow when I scroll down my feed, I forget that Americans are some of the wealthiest human beings on the planet. I forget how much I actually have. And I forget that I know that “stuff” doesn’t actually bring you any sort of happiness. I become envious and jealous and mean spirited about my friend’s successes. And I forget how much I really have to be thankful for.
But here is what I do have to be thankful for. Here are the un-Instagramable moments that occurred recently and that actually happened In Real Life:
- I got to take an amazing and much needed week long trip with my husband. I got to rest and play and have adventures and spend deep, quality time with some of those friends who would normally be sitting at my #Friendsgiving table.
- My son, who did not get to go on this magical trip (hence all of the resting), has stopped what he has been doing several times in the last two weeks to tell me just how happy and excited he is that I came back home to him.
- My husband and I bought a house. A house I love dearly and that we can plant some roots in and call home for a good, long time. But even better than that, I am fortunate enough to be married to a man who throughout the entire decision making process of buying this home, kept checking our motives to make sure there was no part of us that was buying this house for those “Instagramable moments”. He wanted to make sure we were buying a home that we loved and wanted because we loved it and not because of how successful we would look in it. He kept reminded me that the American Dream isn’t what we’re all about as a family.
- My Sunday this week was full of people that I love. I celebrated and laughed and ate and drank with people that I care for deeply and who care for me. And although it was just a snippet in time, it will carry me through for now.
- I have a best friend who lives miles away, in another time zone, with a toddler and a job, who always makes an effort to give me her precious spare moments with a phone call. Her life is just as crazy and chaotic and joyful and heartbreaking as mine is and we make every effort to share it with each other as often as we can.
These are the moments that don’t fit in the Instagram square. And these are the moments that actually happen in real life, with real people with real triumphs and heartaches. I love social media and I will continue to use it and probably continue to battle with it but my goal in the months coming up, especially with the extra Instagramable-ness of the holidays, is to still keep living in the real life and to remember that the real life is where real life is given to my soul. The moments that don’t fit in the square are the ones that forces my heart to step up and cherish these precious moments deep inside.