Don’t believe what you see on my Instagram or Facebook page.
Because it doesn’t tell you the truth. Not all of it. I’m a straight shooter, honest, direct to a fault. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I pull no punches. My whole brand is built on helping other people be authentic.
And yet, lately, when I sit down with friends and colleagues, they’ve been saying things like, “Well, you’ve been busy!” and “Business must be great, right?” and I wonder where they get that information from. And then I remember ME.
It’s not that I purposely mislead or lie. The stuff that I post is true. Things are going well! But there seems to be this outsized idea of what I’m doing compared to what I really am. To what anyone really is. That’s the thing with social media, people always seem to post the positives in their lives and never the negatives. This can lead us to think that many people have perfect lives, but that’s often far from the truth. On Instagram, nicer photographs tend to do better than others, this leads people to only post photos where they’re looking their best or they’ve done something amazing. This leads to a higher number of likes, which is what Instagram is mainly based on. However, sometimes a post may not do as well and you may need to buy 50 Instagram likes to feel better about the picture you’ve posted. Instagram can make us feel like we need to have a lot of likes on a picture before we can feel good about ourselves. This does lead people to purchase likes online or to try and find some popular hashtags to get their posts promoted on the explore page. By using an instagram hashtag generator, people can find the most relevant hashtags to help their post get more attention and engagement. No matter how people are doing it, they are trying to get more likes on their posts to feel successful. This is a social issue, Instagram leads us to only post nice pictures, creating a false reality of people’s lives.
So that’s why you can’t believe what you see on my feed, and here’s why:
1. I only post pictures where I look halfway decent. My face looks fug in many of them, and you don’t know that because I don’t show you.
2. I post my own successes and usually say nothing about the other stuff. OK, so I had a piece published here or was interviewed there. You don’t know the things I didn’t get or was afraid to try for.
3. You think I’m out all the time. But I’m not. In fact, I’m often right here, in my studio apartment. I like being here. Sometimes it takes great effort for me to go out, and when I do, I usually am so thrilled I’ll take pictures of whatever I’m doing.
4. You assume that because I’m single in NYC, I’m really happening. Lest you think life in NYC is a non-stop carousel of craft cocktails and sex, let me tell you: It’s not. I spend more time doing laundry. A great Saturday is a run through the park, a visit to the farmer’s market or Sephora, followed by a nap. There are no photos of these things. Lots of times I’m home, feeling I should be out, and sometimes I’m out, and wish I could be home.
5. I’m about to go on a vacation. THIS is where things are about to go off the rails because for many sad, stressed, or boring weeks this winter, you heard nothing from me-you didn’t know I had a breakup, or that I was lied to by an old friend. You don’t know that I look in the mirror and wonder what the hell I’m doing with my hair or my life.
But in two days, there I’ll be, waving photos of the Mediterranean at you, shoving a cocktail umbrella up your virtual nose. I’ll be on a cruise through the Greek Islands, so you can expect close-up shots of olive oil, wine, pictures of me and some friends posing on cobbled roads or laughing at something no one remembers. There will be fancy food arranged like still life and sunsets over the water.
Promise me you won’t turn around and chastise yourself for what “other people” are doing. Or submit to this fantasy that everyone else is footloose and fancy-free while you’re trying to get ketchup stains out of a T-shirt. For years, I never took a vacation, not one. So don’t extrapolate and think that “everyone’s doing cool stuff”; they’re not. In fact, there have been plenty of times I’ve seen you running down the beach or eating a perfect picnic lunch (remember that), or looking flawless and happy and content.
We haven’t been altogether honest, have we.
Let me tell you what I’m afraid of right now as I finish packing:
- I will bring the wrong shoes / forget a charger / run out of underwear.
- I will miss out on something big while I’m away.
- My cat will die while I’m away (it has happened once before).
- I’ll suffer horrendous diarrhea. Or be constipated for days.
- I’ll have to be airlifted out of somewhere in Croatia due to some horrible injury.
- I’ll lose my passport / my phone / my travel companion and be crying and no one will speak English.
- I will not be able to relax, won’t be or have any fun, and have to lie to everyone about it later.
By now you’ve likely read the absolutely heartbreaking story (“Split Image” on ESPN) of Madison Holleran, the Penn freshman, and athlete who, on January 17, 2014, took a running leap off the ninth floor of a parking garage and ended her life. The fact is, Madison didn’t have some horrible secrets (addiction, crime). The point the piece makes is that the too-bright artificial light of social media made her life seem darker than it was or should have been. The evidence she left on her feed shows us little but the yawning chasm between what we see and what is.
You hopefully will NOT do something so drastic as to end your life (please God no), or pick up a dangerous drug habit, or any of those things. But you may, like many, suffer despair by a thousand cuts, if you allow yourself to be seduced by what you see.
So promise me you won’t.