I’m guilty as anyone of posting my favorite, positive moments in my life on social media. My kids having their cute moments. Me on a date with my husband. Birthdays and celebrations. (The standard. You know it)
And last night’s heavily-responded to post of me and my daughter having some girl time was no different. It was an awesome, memorable moment for me that I probably won’t ever forget. My daughter was being adorable and raw. I was having a rare moment of choosing to spend my time the way that I wanted to. And the result was amazing… and a HARD CORE lesson for me about why it is so important to make these kinds of connections with her instead of pretending that these other “things” are important enough to take precendence. She could not have been more clear with her choice of words last night that she was craving that time with me and that it made her feel good that I gave it to her. And I felt great about it too.
But here’s what you didn’t see.
What you didn’t see were the weeks and months leading up to last night where I couldn’t spend 15 minutes on the floor with my kids without having the urge to look at my phone out of habit. Or the dozens of times that my daughter asks me to do something with her and I respond with a “hold on a second – Mommy needs to finish (insert something unimportant that I have myself believing is important.)” Or the times in my head that I’ve said, “I really shouldn’t be letting her watch TV so much, but I REALLY need to get this checked off my to-do list” as she’s laying on the couch watching Sleeping Beauty for the hundredth time.
Back to the post… In choosing to share that last night… sure… there was a part of me that was really proud to share that moment. It felt good. And posting it was almost a way for me to make that moment last a little longer in hopes of remembering it when I have the choice to create that type of environment between she and I again. But the other part of me shared it because my hope was that if someone else was struggling like I have been to manage my priorities in a day and shut all of the crap off that we pretend matters and dive into what’s really important… that maybe it would inspire them to do so too. Those of you that follow my blogs know I tend to write that way.
And that’s hopeful (and maybe naive) for me to believe right? Because today for some reason… I took a step back and considered the alternative…. “WHAT IF that turned-on-Sleeping-Beauty-for-the-hundredth-time version of ‘me’ saw this post from someone else… how would it make me feel?” And the answer is, in my head I would go “Awesome. Now I really feel like a bad Mom” and probably start to convince myself that I’m the only Mom who doesn’t spend enough quality time with my kids as I let the Mom Guilt marinate. Because the truth is that post doesn’t show the whole picture. It was a snapshot. A single snapshot of a single moment. Yes, there was a story in that moment… but there is a much bigger (more complicated) unseen story around it too.
But that “it’s only a snapshot” thing is really hard to remember sometimes, isn’t it?
As we scroll and scroll and scroll through all of these happy posts about all of people’s shiny moments… we FORGET that these are carefully chosen moments that people hand-pick to share. But social media is never going to tell the full story. It’s not built for that. But when newsfeed addicts like me scroll several times a day… sometimes you forget that… and this false sense of reality is born.
The easy conclusion to make here is to say “start posting the real not-so-fluffy stuff” so that the whole story is seen … but we all know the rebuttal to that is that no one wants to see a bunch of complaining/negativity/etc or that it’s not healthy to see that over and over again. Then the other conclusion is to shut out social media all together… but we all know it’s not that easy either. Our world has shifted in the outlets that we have to interact with each other … and social media has become one of them. The issue happens when it is the ONLY one. So what’s the answer?
To me… it’s this: Our priorities have GOT to shift to real conversations. With real people. Offline. Off Text. On the Phone. In Person.
Facebook is a snapshot. A coffee date with your friend? That’s the whole story.
And frankly… is it not an incredible thing when we can take all our worries and struggles, our celebrations and passions – and verbalize them with a single person that cares to understand us … and to then allow that person to share their world too? (Versus trying to scroll through a Facebook page and see “what’s going on with their life”) It’s called CONNECTING… and I really believe that when this offline interacting with our families and our friends takes precedence… suddenly Facebook becomes more of an entertainment outlet and less of a scale by which we measure how we’re doing in our own lives. Because when we have “relationships” with snapshot posts that we make snapshot judgements on and snapshot comparisons to … before we know it we’re letting some random person from high school’s carefully chosen snapshot of THEIR life… maybe affect our own sense of who we are.
I’m pretty sure I know who I am… I’m a flawed work-in-progress who is trying really damn hard to be the best version of myself (aren’t we all?) Some days it’s bright and shiny popcorn dates with my daughter telling me how much she loves me … and other days it’s a picture in that same exact spot on the couch so I can show her what she looks like when she’s pouting over not being allowed to have another Skittle. There’s always a bigger story, guys. For me, for you and for our friends.
Let’s take social media for what it is… a bunch of authors choosing their best page out of their 1,000 page book…. and let’s take the time to reconnect with our real relationships… where we can understand each other cover to cover.