Have you ever noticed that your social media newsfeeds are cluttered with people at their shiniest? Perfectly posed selfies and polished and poised families beam out at me as I scroll through social media accounts. No one has spinach in their teeth, no one is having a meltdown, and certainly no one is showing the inner loathing they feel for being forced to participate in yet another family photo session. Thanks to filter applications and crop functions our public profiles can be buffed to their shiniest in preparation for being shared with our digital friends and family.
Turning my attention to my own social media accounts, I (somewhat self-righteously) expected to find that I post real photos of myself. What I found were pictures so shiny I felt blinded, and I realized that I am no different than the rest of social media’s users as I too am guilty of primarily sharing only my shiniest of images with the digital world. The pictures I post are often edited, filtered, and one of at least five that were taken in the hopes that there would be a picture that was “good enough” to share. Further to that, I recalled that I recently asked my sister-in-law to completely remove an unflattering picture of me from one of her social media newsfeeds. Talk about insecure.
As I recalled this request it occurred to me that by showing only edited and filtered versions of myself I am not just filtering out unflattering pictures of me. I am filtering out my most authentic self. I am holding my imperfections close to my heart and carefully sharing only the shiniest parts of my life. My social media self is frantically waving both of her hands in the air and yelling “HEY LOOK OVER HERE! I HAVE ALL MY SHIT TOGETHER! I SHAVE MY LEGS REGULARLY AND FLOSS EVERY NIGHT!”
Social media me is trying to take attention away from the real me who is frantically trying to be on time (for once) to an appointment, and who is clumsily spilling on her already dirty shirt while her child draws all over the fridge.
This is not to say that the images I send out on social media are not real. They are all very real moments in my life. I also love seeing the images that my social media friends and family share of themselves and their families. But why all the censorship? Why are we hiding behind filters and projecting only the best images of ourselves?
In my humble opinion, the main reason is that many of us (myself included) have a paralyzingly fear of judgement and condescension. Exposing our imperfections is scary and can leave us feeling vulnerable to criticism (both internal and external), in spite of the fact that the majority of the people we are sharing our imperfections with are friends and family.
So how can we solve this? How can we conquer our fear of judgement and imperfection online?
That’s a much bigger problem than can be solved in one blog post; however, I think we start by being secure enough with ourselves and trusting enough with our friends and families to share an imperfect version of ourselves from time to time. Glennon Doyle Melton, one of my favourite writers, says “The problem is not that you’re imperfect. The problem is that you think there’s a problem with being imperfect”.
So here goes. I scrolled through the pictures I’ve taken in the past week to find one that wasn’t edited and was true-to-the-moment, which turned out to be a difficult task. This is the start of me sharing a more authentic version of myself with the digital world, and becoming ok with my many imperfections. This picture captures a moment that may not look perfect, but it was a moment of pure joy and contentment.
What’s the most authentic picture you have of yourself? Do you have the courage to share it with the rest of us imperfect beings?
Let your freak flag fly.