The story broke earlier this week entitled “Our double lives: Dark realities behind ‘perfect’ online profiles,” exposing the downside of our obsession with creating a perfect online life. Kiersten Rickenbach Cerveny, a beautiful, successful blond doctor and a married mother of three was found lying in the vestibule of a strange apartment building, underwear stashed in her handbag, dying of a likely drug overdose.
Then the families and friends visit their social media, perhaps for clues. Was there a recent Facebook post that said, “Had a really tough day. Despite all of my material success, I’m void of the things I need to fulfill my soul and I need help.” or simply, “Heading to my drug pusher for a fix because it’s the only way I can cope with my hollow drab life?”
Of course not.
Another very sad instance is 19 year old ivy league student, Madison Holleran, who leaped from building just hours after posting a beautiful, vibrant picture of a cityscape on Instagram. Did the caption read, “Feeling like my walls are caving in. Before you like or comment on this post, would somebody please call me to check on me?”
Once again, no.
According to a few recent studies, among the most popular Instagram posts – meaning the ones that garner the most likes and comments – are flawless celebrities, shoes, cute dogs, and pretty flowers. Popular does not lend to real or authentic because, as we all know, life is not always flawless, stylish, cute or pretty. It’s just not.
I personally am one of those people who gets gravely annoyed by “perfect” online lives. If I scroll through your profile, blog, etc. and all you share are those obnoxious “My marriage is flawless, “My kids are perfect” “My sh*t doesn’t stink” posts, I WILL BLOCK YOU FROM MY NEWS FEED! We’ll never be friends anyway because clearly, we have nothing in common!
With that said, most people aren’t interested in joining your pity parties either and find some solace in viewing and feeling a part of your perfect online life. This is especially true for us bloggers. We try to share our lives as honestly as possible, but we often get lost in others’ desires to bask in our glories, no matter how falsely glorified they become. I’m guilty of that too to a certain extent. So, lest there be any confusion, let me once and for all clarify for you some of the major honest differences between my real life and my online life:
1. I am not that active.
My mom tells me she’s impressed as she looks at my profiles showing all of the fun and exciting things I take part in with my children, all of the events we go to, and places we explore as a family. The truth is, we only go to a select few events we are invited to through my blog life and outside of those, we are pretty damn lazy. There are many evenings and weekends where I am too exhausted to do a single thing. We sit at home doing absolutely nothing, with me playing games on my phone while Disney Junior babysits my kids. I don’t post about that.
2. I smile in pictures even when I’m not happy.
Sometimes, I’m sad, tired, frustrated or just simply out of it. But when the camera is on me, I am just programmed to say “cheese.” Who wants to see me in a group photo frowning or looking frustrated? No one. Instead, we capture this beautiful, vibrant, happy photo that will forever forge a happy memory and think perhaps when we view this picture years from now, we will forget about the truth behind how we felt immediately preceding and following the click of the photo.
3. Photos I take in my home are “staged.”
I can rarely just snap a blog post-ready photo of any angle in my home. Why? Because my house is ALWAYS messy! Any truly impromptu photo in my home would have in the background an overflowing trash can, clothes on the floor, stains on the carpet, and a slew of other unappealing messes that are a fixture in my home.
4. I’m not always that cultured or sophisticated
Sure, I want the world to see me as this as this super cultured, worldly, intelligent and socially conscience individual. I can be all of those things at times, but if I’m being honest, I sometimes watch (and enjoy) some pretty mindless and socially genocidal television – the Real Housewives franchise (Jersey is my favorite), Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, etc. I love a good train wreck sometimes and to be frank, they make me feel better about my own life. As badly as I want to post my WTF comments about these online, I instead opt for commentary on intelligent and socially acceptable TV programs. What would people think of me if they knew I followed the Stevie J – Jocelyn drama?
5. I don’t post anything about marriage when I’m arguing with my husband.
…which about a year ago was pretty often. I had a friend ask me offline, “Did you get a divorce?” I told her “No” and asked why she thought that. She said it was because she hadn’t seen him in my Facebook pictures and I haven’t posted anything about him in a while. Now, he’s not very big on social media so I don’t post about him too often anyway, but she was right. I wasn’t happy with him and I refused to fake a “happy family” image on my profile. We’re doing much better in our marriage now, so he’s started making appearances in my profile again.
6. I don’t typically post pictures with an alcoholic drink in my hand.
I love wine. I drink wine. A lot, though responsibly. If I had a picture taken every time I had a drink in my hand while out in public, you’d probably think I was an alcoholic. My church friends would call me to pray and my mom would stage an intervention because yeah…she’s just that dramatic. No thanks!
7. I only “try” to stay positive in my views of the world.
Politics frustrate me. Race relations exhaust me. Religious wars scare me. The most important matters of the world sometimes strip me of every ounce of positivity I contain in my body. I have my own fairly strong opinions about all of it, but I sometimes cannot bring myself to post them because I’m afraid that any continued dialogue and heated debate in the uncensored platform of my “perfect” online life would only drain me and destroy my spirit, while also possibly exposing the hate in some acquaintances I would otherwise generally like.
So there you have it – the authentic inauthentic me! What about you? What are some differences you have between your real life and your online life?