This is my highlight reel.
Originally posted November 26, 2017 on the previous Little Mountains Blog website.
The other day I was telling my Dad about a video someone had posted on Instagram of their baby gender-reveal party.
(For those of you who have no idea what I just said, it’s trendy right now for pregnant couples to have a party during which they creatively reveal the gender of their baby to their friends and family. Think opening a box of pink balloons or blasting the party-goers with blue silly string.)
I thought the video was cute.
It set my Dad off on a rant about how narcissistic our society is these days.
I could chalk this all up to a generational thing and call it good. I could say my Dad’s generation just doesn’t understand how things are today. That would probably have some merit. But I think there’s more to the story. Let me use myself as an example.
This is my highlight reel. These are pictures taken by my professional photographer friend Joe (great guy, by the way, and yes this doubles as a shameless plug for him). These are pictures that I’m proud of. These are the pictures I choose to post on my social media so that everyone thinks I spend my days staring into the distance in trendy apartments and laughing at the sunshine through the trees (or something like that).
But these moments are only a fraction of who I am. They don’t represent all of me. What you don’t see are the behind the scenes. The ratty old t-shirts and the sweatpants and the staring at the dishes in the sink. The no-makeup, greasy hair, almost in tears because I’m breaking out AGAIN and why is this still happening to me at 23. The ice pack strapped to my head in the dark because I have yet another migraine. The heart racing before I leave my apartment because I don’t know what to expect at this particular social outing. The feeling super hungry all the time but not being able to eat more than a bite because that’s what stress does to me.
And let me tell you, on my social media, you won’t see these things. Social media is a place where we can curate the impression we make. We can choose our aesthetic and craft the lens through which others form their opinions of us, often before we actually meet. And actually, I think somewhere in that we can find a way to make art, spark creativity and find community.
So this is not a call to stop posting pictures of our best selves on social media. This is not an attempt to start a #NoMakeupSelfie movement, don’t worry. This is not a prompt to start admitting everything you don’t show your followers in an attempt at honesty. This is not a rant about how comparing yourself to others is damaging (because it is, but you know that already).
This is just a reminder that what we often see through our little hand-held screens is not necessarily reality.
And I think to some extent that’s okay. As long as we aren’t hurting others, crafting our social media to positively influence our self-esteem is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, I’d say it’s human nature meets the 21st century. But as consumers of filtered, altered and edited information we can’t forget that what we’re seeing isn’t the whole story. It’s the pretty bow on ripped up, taped-together wrapping paper. It’s the rose colored glasses you wear as the sand sticks to your sweat at the beach.
It’s the highlights. It’s not untrue, but it’s not the whole truth. And I think ultimately it’s the whole truth we should be striving to see in each other, even if it’s not pretty.
PS - Check out Joe's amazing work here!