If you were to scroll through my Facebook page you would see hundreds of pictures of me smiling, my kids doing something adorably ridiculous and my fabulous friends raising a glass on a night out.
I look like I have it totally together. I can laugh at the tricky times when my kids are being a handful and I seem to still manage to have fun date nights with my hubby despite having jobs and kids to look after.
The trouble is a snapshot of my life doesn’t give you the whole picture. A photo taken during one moment, one millisecond of my day, doesn’t tell you about the hard times. No one posts pictures of themselves crying in the shower after a night of no sleep. No one posts pictures of themselves rowing with their toddler over the piss filled potty they just slung across the bathroom. You don’t post a picture of yourself hurling ugly words at your hubby because he dared to suggest a different tactic of coping with the kids.
This of course is human nature. We construct an image of ourselves we are prepared for our friends and others to see. The us we are comfortable with them seeing. I think this is something humans have always done but the problem is the advent of social media has magnified the act. We can now see the fabulous lives of millions of other people at the touch of a button or swipe of a finger. We compare. We see the Mum who wears incredible clothes while toting her two similarly stylish kids one under each arm. Her home looks impeccably decorated and tidy, perhaps a little “accidental” mess on the coffee table where a newspaper, half eaten biscuit and a cute little arrangement of flowers in a retro jar are arranged. She has it together, this motherhood gig. And she has time to blog, network and hold down a job.
We all do it, but the danger comes in imagining others are perfect, winning at life, while we are desperately lacking. What we need to remember when browsing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others is that this is not the full story. Everyone has hard times, hard days, failures and catastrophes. They aren’t all cute stories either. Sometimes life is just shit but we don’t want to talk about it on social media. This weekend I posted a photo of our children smiling while splashing about in the paddling pool and captioned it “loving summer”. In reality the kids loved it but I spent all weekend whining about being too hot.
It happens with my single friends too. I see their life as an endless stream of parties, spontaneous nights out and lie ins. They travel to amazing places on holiday and post stunning images from their travels. The world is their oyster.
In truth one pal confessed to me she envies my life, the family I have and stability I have in my relationship.
I’m not saying we should rethink what we post on social media. Just that we shouldn’t compare ourselves and our own lives to the picture painted by a social media account. The real image may be far less pretty.