Sunday, February 2, 2014

Seeing Behind the Social Media Curtain

I recently read a humorous blog post from a year ago in which the author confessed to editing out the less desirable aspects of parenthood in the version she shares on Facebook and Instagram. Her homemade pancakes and apple-picking in the sunshine were hilariously tempered with real-life tantrums and bathroom intrusions. The author asked readers to "quit telling lies on Facebook," if only to save others from aspiring to perfection that will never be. Maybe I just have really honest friends, but I don't have that problem.

I don't see the incessant sugar-coating that social media commentators complain about. My friends' photos usually show pretty things and smiling children, but who among us preserves and shares the messy rooms and tears? We all know they happen, but we celebrate the shining moments.

Playground - Flotsam of the Mind

While their photos are pretty, I feel like my friends use their words to tell it like it is. Most people I know aren't trying to sell me their life. The only exception may be friends with an online business presence, and I don't fault them for that. Few people voluntarily air their dirty laundry when they seek to make a good impression. To do so while promoting yourself or your business would be ill-advised.

My friends who go online primarily for community or entertainment usually provide the full picture. I hear about sleepless nights, sick kids, tantrums, and the older child equivalents of the same. I once used Facebook as a place to vent every little daily frustration, and I see some friends do the same. My outlook and my posts have changed since then, both because my daily life is easier with older children and because I realized that no one wants to be inundated by Debbie Downer and rants about her annoying kids. As in all things, moderation is the key. That's what I usually see.

I never see perfection, even when I'm shown perfection. Behind every loving sibling photo, I know there are hours of fighting. Behind every child's success, I know there were long hours of practice and years of carpool drudgery. For every fulfilling moment that makes parenthood worthwhile, there were a dozen that made a mom question her sanity.

My friends are fairly forthright, but they don't need to tell me every negative detail. I already know. I know what's behind the curtain. I know so well that I no longer even see that the curtain is there.

If you need to pull back your curtain and show me the gory details, friends, I will take a peek. But please know that I don't need the voyeuristic view. Even when you show me only sunshine and happiness, I know that you also have rainy, dreary days. It's part of life, it's part of friendship, and it's even part of social media if you know how to look.

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