I’ve had this post drafted for months but have waited to post it because I really want the message to come across in the right way. I’m going a little off topic today to share some thoughts on social media…
I’ve written posts in the past about the comparison trap on social media (like this guest post on Carrots ‘n’ Cake) and it’s something I’ve certainly felt passionate about at times. And still do.
I wrote that post 2 years ago…when very few people were talking about the social media facade. When we hadn’t yet realized how much image-editing was taking place through social media. Thankfully, now, it’s pretty well understood that most of us post the beautiful, glossy photos of our life on social media and leave the rest un-documented.
First, it should be noted that I loved and appreciated Kristen’s post. It was funny and poignant and I agree wholeheartedly with her message. She deserves a big “AMEN.”
But reading it just brought up more ideas on a separate topic that I’ve been chewing on for the past few months.
I’m starting to notice a new trend emerging. A trend of of competing for who can be the most “real.” But rather than “real” some are taking it to the other extreme.
For some, the pendulum is swinging to the other side.
Exaggerating their “realness” and shaming those who seem like they have it all together.
While I’m in full-support of ‘keeping it real’, sadly I’ve noticed negativity towards those who post beautiful, inspiring photos or those who are appear “too perfect” or “too happy” on social media.
The pendulum swing has made me second-guess sharing certain images or posts that may appear “too pulled-together” or “too pretty.”
For example, when Kristen shared photos of her messy house, it made me second-guess the photo I was going to post of a tidy table with fresh flowers…I felt bad for showing a neat home without any clutter.
But then I thought about it…
And the truth is my workspace IS tidy. It is clutter-free 75% of the time. I can’t stand clutter and my productivity/creativity depends on a clean, organized space. It is part of who I am. I’m not extreme about this, but through years of self-reflection I’ve come to accept that my environment greatly affects my well-being. And I honor that.
Now, perfectly pulled together hair? Not a chance. Pin-worthy make up? Never in my life. A beautiful, homemade cake? Not happening. A flourishing garden? Let’s not get crazy.
And when it comes to mommy blogs – the “bad mommy” trend is on the rise.
In our valiant efforts to put an end to the pressure to be a perfect mother, another extreme has emerged. One that is equally shaming to those who are actually passionate about breastfeeding, staying at home, crafting, keeping a clean house, teaching their children multiple languages, (insert whatever a “perfect mommy” looks like to you).
Yes, motherhood is HARD and ugly at times. But there’s no need to compete for “who has it worse.” I share my trials and commiserate with my close friends. I share funny photos every once in a while that depict the not-so glamorous side of being a mother. But I refuse to go negative just for the sake of appearing “real”.
Here’s an example from real life that made me ponder this thought deeper:
A group of us were planning a playdate over at a friend’s house. This particular friend happens to be creative, organized, crafty and an excellent hostess. This is who she is. She wanted to host a holiday-themed playdate with color-schemed snacks and treats. Adorable right?
Someone made the comment that she should just keep it simple for the playdate so that it didn’t make the rest of us feel bad.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
There are two sides to this equation.
On one hand, social media has spurred competition between who can have the most pulled-together, instagram/pinterest-worthy life.
But on the other hand, what’s wrong with highlighting beauty, using your gifts and expressing yourself in a positive light?
My hostess friend IS the Pinterest type. She is gifted and talented and gets JOY out of planning beautiful events. It’s who she is.
And just because we’re not that way doesn’t mean we should bring her down just to make ourselves feel better.
Since social media is a big part of my business and life, I often feel like I’m walking a fine line. I want to inspire others (that’s my job) but I don’t want to appear too perfect or pulled together because we all know that’s a facade.
If you know me, you know I’m all about keeping it real. I really do try to portray an honest and accurate glimpse into my life. But there’s NO denying that I choose to highlight the good, happy, beautiful, healthy things more than the ugly, dirty, tired parts of my life.
But I think that’s okay.
I am a professional in the health and fitness industry. It is my goal to inspire you. It is my purpose to show you the beauty in a healthy, vibrant, active life. It is my heart to insert more positivity into day-to-day life.
As long as we’re all in agreement that we share our highlight reels because those are the moments that inspire us to share, there’s no need to compare.
For me, social media helps me focus on the beautiful, positive things in life and I like that.
I post beautiful things because they make me pause and say, wow, ‘that’s photo-worthy’. When I’ve burnt my frozen sweet-potato fries for the 88th time, it just doesn’t strike me to grab my phone and appreciate the moment.
At the end of the day, it comes down to being authentic.
I am a health-nut with a goal to inspire positivity. And I’m not going to apologize for that.
And at the same time there are a whole host of unimpressive things in my life that don’t get shown through social media and there are a lot of things I don’t do well or don’t do at all (remember my list of things I don’t do?).
It’s up to us, as the consumers of social media to remember that.
Technology is not bad. Social media is not bad. It’s how we use and relate to them that will dictate the effect they have on our life.
To inspire means to breathe in.
To compare means to measure against.
Social media can be a beautiful form of inspiration if we remain true to ourselves and let go of what we think others should be doing on their personal accounts.
There is a healthy balance to be found.
Things to keep in mind when following bloggers on social media:
- blogging may be their job, therefore, their images are carefully selected to fit the image of their brand.
- remember that you’re seeing the good, the pretty and the highlights of every day life rather than the whole picture.
- having a firm understanding of your values, your identity and your uniqueness will help you to appreciate others rather than to compare.
- don’t compare your weaknesses to someone else’s strengths.
- do you and let others do them.
- unfollow accounts that regularly make you feel shame, guilty or uninspired.
When you see something that gives you pangs of jealousy, give that person a compliment. Tell them their cake is beautiful, tell them that their vacation looks amazing or that their family is adorable.
Diffuse the feelings of comparison by acknowledging that the good in their life can exist without diminishing the good in yours.
Ultimately, if there’s one thing I want you to hear in this post let it be this…
Whatever your gifts are, don’t hesitate to share them for fear of making others feel bad.
Let your light shine.
Let others shine theirs.
We need your positivity.
We need your inspiration.
We need YOU.
It’s about being true to who we are and allowing others do the same.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson
As a blogger it’s important for me to start this conversation and examine the role that social media plays in The Balanced Life’s message.
So I’d love to hear your thoughts.
How do you walk this fine line and what do you think about bloggers sharing perfectly polished images online?
PS – you may also enjoy Thinspiration on Pinterest.