“I love your family but just once I wish you would post something negative so I know you’re not a robot generated happy machine.”
This comment on one of my recent Instagram posts caught my eye. While I usually try to just scroll right past the negative comments, something about this one got me thinking. I started to hit reply then decided this might be worth a long post, and now you’re reading a blog about it. Apparently it struck a nerve, ha!
Before I get on with the thoughts that bring us here, I want to point out how the few negative comments in the line up of mostly positivity somehow always stick out. It’s like they have a highlighter around them. Have you noticed this in your own life? Did you know there have been actual scientific studies that show it takes 5.6 positive comments to counteract 1 negative one? That’s crazy how sticky those negative things we read, or hear, or how about the negative things we say to ourselves, can be. Please think about this in the way you speak to others and also importantly, to yourself.
Okay, now to address the actual comment, since this person put this out there, it caught my attention, and I actually really don’t believe she is a “hater,” and by that I mean I don’t think this is coming from a place of hate. I think this is a legitimate struggle; that feeling that the lives we see online are somehow more perfect then the ones we are living. Perhaps this is a struggle we are all dealing with in some way or another with the presence of social media in our lives on a constant and daily basis.
Sooo, here are a few thoughts on social media as a whole and how not to find yourself writing this comment on someone’s post. Here we go:
1. Social media is simply a highlight reel. You’ve probably heard this before, but I think it’s worth the reminder. People post the moments they want to remember for themselves and/or those they want others to see. I think of social media to some extent like our old photo albums. Depending on your age, you might not have actually ever seen one of those, but back when we used to actually print pictures, we filled our albums with all the good things: vacations, sporting events, birthday parties, the day at the park, that time our child got an award. What we didn’t put in the album was a picture of us yelling at our child who dropped his ice cream in the car on the way home from that day at the park, or the mountain of laundry in our living room that stayed there for a month, and there certainly weren’t any pictures of our husband sleeping on the couch that night after our big fight.
My point is this: if we can all remember that this is only a highlight reel, perhaps we can realize that social media isn’t the whole story, and even more importantly, that it isn’t meant to be the whole story. The whole story is what we get in real life relationships, not with people that we follow or that follow us on the Internet.
2. Everything is edited. I love social media, but we have to use it with our eyes wide open. We don’t need to believe the “I woke up like that” lie that we are being sold. Pretty much everything you see is edited, and if it isn’t edited, then I can guarantee, I walked around until I found the perfect lighting before I snapped that pic. I may have snapped 3 or 4 or maybe even 11 before getting one I liked. Please tell me you do this too!
It’s the same with television. Even the most “real” reality show is carefully edited to show you exactly what the producers want you to see. It’s a week or more of filming boiled down to 23 min. Magazine photographers take hundreds of pictures to get the one the want and then graphic designers edit it till it looks “perfect.”
In today’s world, with all of this in our face daily, I believe we can enjoy social media and entertainment, and use it well. But, let’s not be naive to the carefully chosen and edited “reality” that it is, so that we start comparing ourselves to an ideal that is not actually attainable. That leads me to comparison…
3. Comparison is always a losing game. It’s so slippery. As soon as we get there, the ideal moves. We reach our “perfect” weight, someone is skinnier, has a smaller waist, or better thigh gap. We reach a level of success with that number in our bank account that we always thought “if I could get there I would have it made” and inflation happens. We go blonde—someone just goes brown and everyone is saying how cute it looks.
It’s a big world out there. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, cooler, more athletic, whatever…than you. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but for real! That’s a fact that we all need to face and once we face it, we need to break free from the hold it has over us.
To “win” at the comparison game you have to bring others down, and that never actually works out in the long run, because it’s not how God created us. He created us to act in unity, to encourage one another not to tear each other down. He created each one of us as an original. You can’t compare originals; that totally defeats the very core of what it means to be an original.
Comparison creates anxiety, brings up all of our fears, opens the door for envy, and if we allow it, it will cause us to believe the lie that we are less than. God created each one of us uniquely and without comparison. There is no one like you therefore there is no room to compare.
4. “Real life” is both the good and the bad. Although this commenter didn’t even ask for “real life” she just went straight and said can you post something “negative” which is probably more honest as I think this is usually what people mean when they say they want to see “real life.” The truth is, in this last month, our oldest daughter who is breastfeeding her new baby got mastitis in her left breast, had 102 fever and her husband had to be out of town for work for three days so I spent the night with her and helped take care of our new grandbaby. Two of our kids were sick with a sinus infection and a one had a stomach bug. Our daughter had a wreck and son had a flat tire. We had a leak in the house that made our wood floors in two rooms buckle so when you walk on them you feel like you are in a fun house. I went to a physical therapist because of back pain that wakes me up every time I try to roll over and also got a mammogram (all clear, whew). Oh yeah, also, in John Luke and Mary Kate’s new house the septic wasn’t installed and poop came up in their bathtub!
Some of these things I posted about, some I didn’t. Maybe I should post those things more because yes, those things are real, but here’s the thing, things break, people get sick, accidents happens, we deal with it and move on. That’s real life, and nobody is immune to that stuff!
But “real life” is ALSO all the good stuff. In real life, our new grand baby smiled for the first time and our hearts melted! Willie cooked a delicious meal and our family and Rebecca’s mom from Taiwan came over. In real life we just had our first crawfish of the year and they were delicious (crawfish season is a serious thing here in Louisiana). In real life, I worked out one day out of five and felt pretty good about myself on that day. All of those things are “real life” too! Real life is full of the good and the hard, the beautiful and the messy. If I’m going to err on one side, I’m going to err on the side of noticing, talking about, remembering the good in my “real life” not all of the bad.
5. Last, but not least, be picky about who you allow to speak into your life. It’s okay to be open and vulnerable about some of the hard things we are going through on our social media platforms, but don’t make the mistake of substituting that for real relationships. The people who you can sit down with face to face–those who have been with you in the good and the bad, have laughed and cried with you–are the ones who really know you and the only ones who can really speak truth into your life. Don’t listen to just anybody. It’s in the real life relationships that real vulnerability and openness needs to happen. If you don’t have real people in your life you can trust with the hard things, work to find those people. You will not find it simply scrolling the Internet. Yes, you may find some encouragement, some good advice, some bible study tips or fun fashion advice, but it is no substitute for face-to-face relationships. Find a church or a bible study or invite someone to coffee or give that friend you haven’t talked to in a while a call. You may feel like you know the people you follow on social media and those that follow you, but when the tough times come, we need a real, literal shoulder to cry on, not a comment from someone we have never actually met. Be that friend to someone and find those friends who will do that for you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts surrounding all of this as we are all wading in the same water of social media and doing the best we can with the changing tide. I hope you know that our lives are not perfect, but because of Christ we do live lives full of joy even in the hardship. We are all human and our lives are filled with good times and bad. Just like yours. I pray that you have people in your corner who are there for you in your real life ups and downs and you are there for other people as well. This is what real life really looks like.
Korie Robertson is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who is passionate about motherhood. Korie (K-Swaggy) is a mom to Sadie — and five other amazing kids. In her free time, you’ll find her playing tennis, drinking coffee and spending time with her kids and new grandson, Zane.
Follow Korie on Instagram @bosshogswife