One of the things that gives social media a bad rap is that social media profiles are carefully cultivated glimpses into the lives of other, which means they’re not always very realistic characterizations of that person’s actual life.

Because of this, there is a temptation to compare our own messy real lives to the spit-shined profiles of others and walk away feeling discouraged.

While most of the time on social media I share the beauty in our life rather than the ugliness—the times when my children are getting along and working together rather than the days when they do nothing but bicker, a closeup of a specific area of our home rather than a panoramic shot that shows the mess around it, the silver lining on a dark day—I think that the best thing we can do for ourselves and our relationship with others is to be authentic.

When we try to hide the imperfections in our lives, we become increasingly protective about the persona we’ve built, afraid that if people discover the truth, they’ll no longer like us.

But it’s incredibly freeing to just be honest about what life is really like. It doesn’t mean you have to focus on the hard and the ugly (and there’s danger to that as well, since what you focus on grows in your own mind), but it does mean admitting that your life isn’t perfect, even as you celebrate the beauty of it.

I’ve said this before on the blog, but social media should feed your soul.

It should lift you up, encourage you, help you feel connected, etc. If it’s dragging you down, making you doubt yourself or becoming a dreaded task, step away! It will still be there when you’re ready to try again, and you’ll be much happier if you use it in a way that enriches rather than detracts from your life.

If you don’t feel like you can be honest, it may mean that you need to practice, or it may mean that you need to adjust your friend settings so that your “audience” is people you are comfortable sharing with. Unfriending gets a bad wrap because it can leave hurt feelings in its wake, and I don’t think we should be callous about that, but it is okay to make sure that the people on your friends list are the ones you really want to communicate and share your story with.

ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS

  1. How easy is it for you to be “real” on social media? Do you feel like you have to pretend to be someone you’re not? Is this typical for your personality online and offline, or is it unique to the online sphere?
  2. CHALLENGE: Spend some time going through your friends list on any social network you’re part of. Consider whether you’d want to share a picture of your messy kitchen or the truth about a parenting challenge you’re facing or a health issue with each of those people. If not, why are they on your friends list? Consider “unfriending” them or adding them to a blocked list.

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