instagram, social media, and keepin’ it real

If you’ve been around here long at all, you know I love Instagram.  I love the glimpses into people’s lives, I love the little snippets of what they have to say, I love the lack of links to political opinion pieces.

img_3930{these were really good, but that powdered sugar was everywhere about 20 seconds later}

But there’s kind of a weirdness going on with Instagram (and pretty much all social media) right now. There’s a definite tension between “keeping it real” and “keeping it pretty”.  A common complaint I hear over and over is that when we only see snippets of people’s day-to-day, or the “highlights”, our lives seem pretty lame by comparison. I know some people have sworn off the platform entirely because they can’t handle being confronted with other people’s “perfect” lives.

img_4914{guess how long this hug lasted before someone clawed someone else’s face}

As someone who loves Insta, I understand the struggle.  I don’t want anyone to feel bad about their lives.  We all have our struggles.  But I also know that we live in a world that has a lot of ugliness- in the news, in our communities, and sometimes even in our homes.  So I like seeing people’s small joys. I like seeing their sweet babies and fun vacations and new cars.  I like their happy news and clean counters and perfectly photographed meals. I like it because I’ve lived enough years at this point to know that joys and babies and clean houses and food on the table isn’t a given for everyone.  And it’s not even a possibility to have those things all the time for anyone.  These things are worth celebrating, worth capturing, worth sharing.img_4652{fairly certain she was making this face because she was poopin’ all up in that onesie.}

Yes, it’s worth sharing the struggles, too.  For every picture I have of my kids holding hands, there are a hundred pictures I didn’t take of them beating on each other.  For every picture of the perfect picnic we had for lunch, there are billions of non-pictures of mac and cheese with hotdogs.  And that’s ok.  Sharing the good doesn’t mean that we’re trying to pretend the bad (or the mediocre, or the boring) isn’t there.  When I post a picture of the cake I just made, you had better believe that there will be a sink full of dishes behind it.  Or when there’s a picture of my kids on an idyllic hike, you know I had to argue with someone for 45 minutes about appropriate shoe choices. I’m not pretending I didn’t have to debate flip-flops vs. hiking boots… it’s just not really worth stopping to appreciate that aspect of my day.img_3375{much mopping. so water. lots mess.}

As we move into an age where social media allows us to “edit” our lives, it’s going to be more and more important that we ground ourselves in the reality of our friendships and values, so that we can continue to celebrate the joys in others’ lives, as opposed to becoming jealous or jaded. It’s when we lose this mooring that we start worrying about other people’s “reality” based on their social media presence.img_3780{i ran away to target because my husband and I were being snarky with each other}

We shouldn’t have to go out of our way to “keep it real” because it’s all real.  And it’s all wonderful.  If you look at someone’s Instagram or Facebook account and think, “Wow. Their life is so good,” that’s because it is good.  So is yours. Every single little square could be captioned with, “Life is good,” and that would be the reality. Not “Life is easy,” or “Life is pretty,” but unequivocally, “LIFE. IS. GOOD.”

23 thoughts on “instagram, social media, and keepin’ it real

  1. So much yes. I love Instagram! Facebook – I hate. I avoid. I only keep it for the homeschool groups. Too much politics and verbal diarrhea on FB. Instagram, though. It’s so peaceful and inspiring. I love the happy glimpses. We all know life ain’t perfect. Sometimes, I post pictures of the mess – the insanity. Mostly – it’s just the moments I dearly want to remember. Sweet moments. Beautiful moments.

    1. Totally agree about FB, I totally have to step away, ESPECIALLY during election season! Yikes.

    1. You are TOO sweet! There is so much beauty in the world, even in the brokenness. We just have to know where to look. And I usually find it in all the sweet baby pictures and photos of pizza. LOL!

  2. Yes! And I find on instagram you can select who you’ll follow. So I have a lot of imperfect people in my stream, though they are perfectly beautiful just as they are. That’s why I follow them.

  3. I can’t believe I am just now finding your blog (I follow you on Instagram)! I’m in complete agreement with you.

  4. I agree with Hafsa I can’t believe I am just now finding your blog! Really lovely post, and I just love your insight into being deeply moored and connected to the things that matter are the best way to not get caught up in negative feelings when people post their good. You should write the User Manual for IG! But I know it comes from your deep happy spirit – I am your newest biggest fan 🙂

    1. Well I’m glad you both found me over here! And yeah, I don’t think I’m qualified to write the user manual for anything, much less anything having to do with social media. 😉 But thank you for the sweet compliment, friend! P.S. I love your blog, by the way… makes me miss food blogging!

  5. It’s funny – I’ve sort of social media idolized you :). I think it’s so easy to get caught up in thinking everyone else’s life is more – more beautiful, more fun, more peaceful – when really, everyone else’s life is just as messy and chaotic as mine. Thanks for sharing ?

    1. What?! Me?! That’s a huge compliment coming from you, Ginny- I feel like you have everything so “together”! 😉 I know I definitely don’t feel that way about myself. LOL. We’re all messy and sometimes weird and often chaotic, no matter which filter you put on it.

  6. Hmmm. It is a tough balance. I agree so much!

    One of my concerns is that if I post something “real,” it could come across as complaining. For example, when I write about my 3yo’s behavior at Mass, I’m neither complaining nor wishing I didn’t have kids. But I worry about it coming across that way…

    1. That’s a good point, too! It’s a fine line between trying to express solidarity with the struggles of others moms, and actually complaining about your own struggles. It’s something I find really challenging, too.

  7. Yes! However, your Instagram feed is one of my favorites! I only just got back on Facebook (only check it on my computer, not phone) for the Catholic Blogger Support Group and for more info on the Catholic women’s Midwest blogger conference in March (I think I convinced my husband into driving up there….we only have one car) but I digress….

    1. That would be amazing if you came to the blogger conference! I think I’m going to try to make it, too! I would LOVE to meet you in “real” life!!! 😉

  8. Yes! Totally! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I actually didn’t get IG until February of this year and I like it so much more than FB. I follow such a wide variety of accounts, but I definitely stopped following some that were just too perfect. They started making me wonder why my life isn’t a perfect pallete of cream, gray, pastel pink, taupe, and B&W. Other than that, I do like to see people celebrating the beautiful little things and I like sharing the beautiful little things of my life. Nobody wants to see that today I didn’t leave the house because I had no clean clothes but then KIDS, so I took them out this afternoon in too-tight shorts, flip flops, and an event T-shirt. Then I looked down and noticed my ashy legs. I don’t even have energy to put on lotion, so yeah, on the days where things look pretty, you has better believe I am going to document it!!!

  9. You. Are. Delightful. I actually don’t go on ig much but they emailed me what I “missed” which was your post which led me to your beautiful blog!! I’m so inspired by your beautiful heart and think you have the most precious kids ever. Great to see you at Apparition Hill! Thanks for all you do to inspire people in life and in our beautiful faith! Our Lady is most definitely smiling upon you, gentle Mother!

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