social media + “authenticity”

Maybe this topic is past its prime. But it’s something I think about a lot, and I still find it is relevant, as long as we are using social media, so I am going to write about it.

I find the idea of authenticity, in the sort of buzzword way, very intriguing. What do we even mean when we say “authentic”? At this point, I’m not entirely sure.

It seems that most of us are striving for some sort of authenticity in our lives, especially in our online presence, yet we are flooded with posed, over-edited and carefully cultivated representations of our lives on social media. Is this really genuine? Is it real?

I don’t mean to say that it’s wrong to post a picture just for its aesthetic value or for validation or to post a smiling selfie when you’re feeling sad. Social media is just as much for self-expression and creativity as it is anything else. Make it your own and do whatever you want with it.

I just question the narrative we create with a stream of idealized photos, often literally cropping out any less than perfect elements to frame the perfect moment, even if the moment we are capturing is far from perfect. What parts of the story are being left out?

I know that there definitely is a movement, a push, for honesty in what we post online, and I appreciate this. It is so hard to move against the grain, to be vulnerable. I value all of the hard work people do to create a presence that is real, that is truthful, that highlights the lows of life as much as it does the highs. I think it’s so important to have this, to remind people that social media is often framed in terms of what people think the world expects of them, not a reflection of reality. We are all far from perfect but we often like to pretend otherwise.

And no, I don’t have a problem if you only want to post pictures that are of those perfect moments. There’s nothing wrong with sharing happiness, or photos just for the sake of sharing photos. We do, however, need to remember not to compare ourselves to what we see online – and I know this is underlined over and over again – but it’s true. It’s too easy to take photos at face value and accept them as truth. This is rarely the case. Social media should come with a disclaimer, but it doesn’t. So it’s up to us to be honest with what we post, or to be critical about what we see when we are tempted to measure ourselves against the photos saturating our feeds.

I’m definitely not exempt from this falsified story-telling. A few weeks ago, I posted a colorful, inviting shot of the city and the river (it’s the feature photo of this post!). What the people looking at the photo couldn’t see, however, was the tears on my face as I took it, or the hour leading up to that, which consisted of a disheartening doctor’s appointment, some serious self-doubt and questioning of myself in almost every aspect imaginable, and the resulting flood of tears I couldn’t seem to stop or hide, as I walked down Main Street, trying to force a smile and hide my tear-streaked cheeks and puffy, red eyes. Honestly, I think I posted the picture as a way to make myself feel better. I don’t know if it worked, but I know I am prone to posting a photo on social media that represents the complete opposite of what I’m feeling, and I don’t know, maybe it’s a way to cope sometimes. But I’m not sure that’s the best solution.

I have been trying, lately, to be more honest with what I share. It’s so hard to do, but I’m going to keep trying. That’s part of why I started this blog – to narrate my life in a way that is honest and real.

Keep posting whatever you want, of course. I’m not trying to criticize anyone, I just think we need to take the time to question both what we post, and what we see.

 

Ultimately, what story are you telling?

And is it the story you want to tell?

 

& with that, have a great week friends,

jc. ♥