Is it okay to only tell half the story? | Thoughts on Instagram and other visual social media.
A few weeks ago a friend commented about how spotless my house was in one of my Instagram photos.
From her perspective, she was right – it did look spotless. I quickly commented back that it was a strategic angle and I had shoved several toys and some paperwork and junkmail out of the way before snapping the photo.
Whether we mean to or not we can portray ourselves online in a way that makes everything about our lives look easy, polished, beautiful, and very much put together.
I highly doubt that is anyone’s motivation for posting cute pictures of their kids or a still life shot of some lovely flowers. Most people aren’t trying to be something they are not… they’re simply recording the things that make them happy – the things they want to remember.
It’s easy to scrutinize and villanize social media for only telling part of the story, because—sure—most of the time we’re not posting a photo of a sink full of dishes or the rude lady at the grocery store check out or our grossly disorganized linen closet… Because, who would enjoy those? Who wants to remember those moments?
These are the ones we went to remember:
And so I think it’s ok that social media only tells half the story. I want that half of the story told. I want to celebrate that sweet expression or most delicous meal or perfect sunset or much-anticipated date night. I want that handmade card and that stunning Christmas tree cemented in my mind forever.
And you know what? Capturing those things in a quick photo helps in that cementing process. (How many memories of your childhood do you have, purely based on a photo that you’ve seen over and over?)
It’s our responsibility to keep our own reality in check – to remember that others don’t have the “perfect” life that we might think we see through their feed, and to remember that they struggle with disappointment, frustration, rejection, loneliness, fear, anxiety, being overwhelmed, or any of the rest of the “stuff” that you and I do.
And if we’re having a hard time keeping that truth in check, then maybe it is time for a personal social media break to realign our priorities and to check our own hearts for straying into that mirey territory of jealously, comparison, or judgement.
I suspect that I’m not alone when I say that I want to let people tell half the story without critiquing or comparing. I want my instagram feed to be full of cubby cheeks and twinkling eyes and pretty furniture arrangements. I want to click on “open” and see stunning gardens and adorable puppies and toes buried in sand. I look forward to seeing people in love and babies smiling and grandma’s cookies piled high on her fine china. I don’t care as much about seeing the perfectly exposed or composed photos… but I sure do want to see some of those perfect moments frozen in time.
I say, bring it on! Tell me that beautiful half of your story!!
I love that we can use social media to tell our wonderful stories and to capture the moments we most want preserved – the fun ones and the “normal” ones.
And I also love that every once-and-a-while we can throw in a small dose of the “other” half, and that—when we do—there are others there to laugh and cry and shake their heads along with us.
Behold, my favorite – the tandem tantrum:
Visual social media is fun and—for me at least—it’s also very meaningful. It’s helping me to notice and celebrate the little things and pause long enough to capture them for memory’s sake.
Because really, these are things I never want to forget.
Dear friends, do you have a love-hate relationship with social media like most people do? What do you think about only telling half the story? Are you with me or do you see it another way?