The Truth About Social Media No One Wants to Talk About
I’m constantly in a battle with myself about the time spent on phones and apps and virtual worlds. I’m constantly trying to find my center with social media. So a few months back, I decided to add one more to the mix, because that feels right - Instagram.
I’ve always kind of been drawn to this platform. I like the idea of photographs and captions. If quotes were a love language, they would be mine, and they are bountiful on this platform. The whole idea is appealing to me, but over the years, I just could not say yes to one more app, one more thing to check, one more account to update, so I stayed away. When I first began, no one followed me. I think the number sat at 33 for several weeks. They say not to think about the number, but let's be honest, we all do. Whether we are utilizing the platform for our business, to build a following in an attempt to achieve a bigger dream, or simply to update family and friends on the goings on of our lives, we look at and track that number.
Right now in this place, though, my goal is not for the whole world to see what I’m posting or writing. Perhaps someday I will have a massive following eager to see my photos, or maybe not. Perhaps someday a group of individuals will want to read the words I type day after day, or maybe not. The creative process for me is a form of therapy.
At times I don’t fully comprehend the swirling thoughts inside my head until they come out of me in a string of words.
No matter what our level of caption writing expertise is, though, we can rarely fully capture the story behind the picture. Looking at a photo of my coffee cup in a dark corner of a coffee shop, you have no idea about the struggles of this semester, the hours I’ve put in, the uncertainty I’ve felt as I put those academic words on the page, the relief I experienced when I pushed the submit button on my last paper of the year the night before. You don’t know, you can’t possibly know, and it honestly isn’t yours to know and deeply feel.
What’s also true is I don’t know your story. I can’t look at your beautiful photographs and inspiring quotes and witty captions, and know the depths of your soul or your motivations.
When considered in this way, the compulsion to compare seems utterly meaningless, and it very much is.
The trend on social media these days is to be authentic, to be real, to show pictures without makeup or our 'behind the scenes shots.' But here's the truth: no matter how hard we try, how many stories we tell, or how many times we post pictures of ourselves immediately after waking, we still aren't showing the world all of ourselves, nor should we. We most definitely should refrain from sharing every bit and piece of our lives.
In the midst of this authenticity, it is critical to remember that the extent to which we know those we follow is just a snippet, just a blip in her day. We can follow along on Instagram stories all day long, and never fully understand the life of the person we're watching. Don't get me wrong, the shift from completely fake to an emphasis on authenticity was much needed; however, the caution remains it is still social media. It is just one post. On one day.
Let's give ourselves a little grace in this space. And while we're at it, let's give each other a little grace, knowing we are seeing but a moment in her life.