Like that saying goes about a tree falling in a forrest, I propose: If something happens in your life, but it isn’t posted to social media, does it still count?
The answer is obviously yes. Absolutely. Of course. So why does it all too often feel like the answer’s “no?”
I was recently requested for a project that I had to turn down because I had too much other work on my plate and, in reply, I got a reaction along the lines of, “Really? Because by the looks of your IG stories lately, you’re just playing with your dog in your backyard…”
Okay, I lied. That story didn’t exactly happen as I told it—but for the sake of getting my point across, it was the most short and sweet example. In truth, a milder form of that same sentiment happens to me all the time. Something that has actually happened to me is that I’ve turned down a job saying I was booked when I really just needed a day off. The problem, though, is that I immediately felt guilty when I shared a video from my back patio with my legs up and contemplated deleting it. (!?)
When you really pause to think about it, it’s so weird to feel bad for that. But the other option—being overtly honest—could also illicit a bad response.
Before social media, we didn’t have to worry about following our excuses up with proof, or how something could come across. Never before did people have to apologize for taking a day off or calling in sick only to not be—or avoid showing that you’re on vacation so as not to advertise to others that your house is an unarmed, empty target. It’s a strange catch-22 of sharing vs. not sharing, and the problem is that it doesn’t just end there.
For a long time, social media was a place where we showcased the ideal and the romantic. Now it’s become a place where we show everything. Where we complain, cry, prove that we’re working, share our life-changing experiences etc. We all know perception is a huge issue where social media is involved, but never until now did I think that limiting what gets shared could also lead to problems: i.e. people assuming you must be up to nothing cool unless you post about it.
We’ve come to expect each other to share everything noteworthy.
It’s subtle and it’s unspoken, but it’s downright exhausting. I follow a few big Instagram personalities and it makes me sad when I see how flustered and apologetic they become if they don’t “check-in” within 24 hours of their last story. To which I say, “no thank you.”
It’s a funny situation because I recognize that I’m in the public eye—and a certain responsibility comes from that—which is exactly why I’m talking about it here, on my personal blog. In truth, while I still post in-the-moment Instagram stories and share exciting news or photos of Piper, I’m becoming more and more inclined to unsubscribe in certain ways. I’m increasingly more aware of what I’m putting out there into the world and—not just how people can translate it or make assumptions based on it (which is an issue)— but how it impacts my life.
Sometimes I share the work I’m doing but more often than not I don’t. Often it’s for confidentiality reasons, but sometimes I simply forget or don’t care enough to. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still working or having positive or negative experiences.
Social media does not and should not validate your experiences.
It can capture and share them, but it should not be a necessity in order for you to feel accomplished. And further, just because Sally hasn’t posted in three days doesn’t mean Sally’s been sleeping for three days.
So before our world becomes Black Mirror’s Nosedive (S3 E1), I think the more we talk about it and treat humans like humans rather than robots made for our entertainment, the better. Remember that someone’s social media does not give you the whole story—you’re merely getting just a slice into someone’s life. Recognizing that is so important—not just for your own sake (I’m referring to comparison and social-media-induced depression), but for the sake of the people you “follow”, too.
What does that change for me? It would be easy to just stop and unsubscribe, but I think the only way to combat the issue is from within the world it thrives in. There’s something interesting about being a blogger and TV/social media personality and rejecting so much of the culture. Less abstractly, it means I’ll continue sharing things I deem sharable, but that I’ll continue omitting what I chose. It also means doing “me” more: sharing things I’m passionate about–like this–on my blog and using my voice to combat the facade rather than add to the issues.
Anyhow, just some food for thought on a topic that I find super interesting. I’d love to hear what you guys think in the comments!
And remember, a tree falling in the forrest does still make a sound if no one’s there to hear it.
PS: The feature photo was taken of me by Shawn Lovering years ago and there’s still something I love so much about it.