I could have written any number of things on my Facebook status today, but I wrote about how I must be in a need of a few days off from work, since I accidentally “dialed ‘9’ to get out” at home. That’ll give other office workers a chuckle, I thought.
But that’s all I thought. I didn’t craft that status to be the master of wit, nor was I trying to suggest that I’m overworked (because I’m not). It’s what was on my mind at the time, no more, no less.
That’s what Facebook asks, at the top of your home page: “What’s on your mind?” But how often do people post things that are true to themselves, as opposed to the picture they’re trying to paint to those who are watching?
There is a much-acknowledged but seldom-admitted behaviour that goes on all around us – Facebook filtering our lives. I am referring to the lens through which we choose to let people view us.
Because from the outside, I’m sure I must look, to some, like I’ve got it together (which, just reading those words, kind of makes me laugh). I have a husband, a house, we’re gainfully employed, our kids are healthy and active, and there is very little news to report at any given point in the year. From a Facebook view, I’m sure my life looks pretty typical, if not charmed.
I’ll share a thoughtful meme or video of a laughing baby if it’s been a really depressing news cycle. I’ll write funny (or at least what I think are funny) anecdotes about marriage or kids, maybe post a link to an article I’ve read, stuff like that. Possibly post a few pictures if there’s been a recent event I’ve attended.
And that’s what you see – you see what I want you to see.
Does that make me a complete phony? I’m not sure. That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out.
It’s not that I intentionally try to fake-out the world. Those who know me have no illusions about what I’m like “in real life,” but those I only know through Facebook, or whom I haven’t seen in a long time, might see something different, something not representative of the real me, if they’re browsing by my page over their morning coffee. So let me clear that right up for them (and you).
Those pictures I posted last week that everyone complimented me on? Those are not candids that I snapped. That’s primer, foundation, setting powder, and contouring that I finally had time to apply. I hadn’t been out with my husband since March and I went a little overboard with the photo filters so I could convince myself that I looked a lot better than I actually did. My skin and hair are just as hopeless as everyone else’s, contrary to my profile pictures.
My son decided to join hockey for the first time this year, so I posted asking people to support his fundraiser. Truth is, I’m stressed to the max about how we’re going to get him to all the practices and games, on top of the cross country practices and basketball clinic and winter baseball training camp. On top of work. And where, pray tell, is all the gear coming from? And who’s paying for all this? No one wants to wake up in the morning to that rant on their computer screen, least of all from me.
I didn’t have supper tonight because I forgot to buy something to take to work. And I’m not sure what the kids and husband ate, but it very likely involved a drive-thru. (All of which must counter-balance the baking I write about and the delicious recipes I post.)
I’m currently sitting in pajamas that could definitely be cleaner, and I just yelled at one of the kids for not taking home his math book. My browser is open to a grocery store Web site so I can see what’s on sale this week, and I’m trying to meet a publishing deadline even though I’m exhausted and still have two loads of laundry to fold before I make lunches.
But we don’t show any of that. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re the only ones who deal with it. Our unattractive, uninteresting, and unwanted moments are filtered out, like a social resume.
Like a resume, though, omitting the information doesn’t change it. We all have bad hair in the morning, and we all argue with our husbands, and none of us has it together as much as we pretend we do. Pretending we do isn’t fooling anyone, but it’s not hurting anyone, either.
Whatever helps you sleep at night, even if it’s a photo filter.