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apr.15 {social media and the envy effect}

(... and the rest of the table is covered with crumbs, 
random toys, and papers)

The other day there was a link going around to an article about the issue of people promoting their lives on Instagram (and Facebook) in a way that only shows the good stuff - the happy photos, the beautiful homes, the smiling children.  For me, I wholly agree that to only represent the up-side of life is misleading, especially where we all can get caught in the comparison game.  It's only telling part of the story and it becomes pretty easy to think the flowers are rosier in everyone else's garden.  But I also think the "envy effect" says more about our own insecurities than it does about the purveyor of pretty pictures.  I understand this from my own experience, for sure.

I often wonder though how much of other people's reality we really want to see?  I think a lot of people go on to these sites, especially Instagram, specifically to see inspiring and uplifting images, at least in our corner of the blogosphere where creativity is also a big part of the intent.  When you talk about inspiration as a way of living I find that it's a tough line to delineate.  Is it a downer then to share the hard stuff?  Life is full of hard stuff and I often escape to the online world for a jolt of goodness and a little encouraging connection.  I also, when feeling low and not so shiny, tend to avoid going online because it can have the negative effect of rubbing salt in a fresh wound.  Again, more about me than about your photograph of a beautiful gathering of friends - the same image can make me feel many different things depending on my own point of view.  Nothing is static or exists without context.

Ultimately, we are all consumers of joy and also of honesty when it comes to sharing the human experience.  I read this quote last night in an article about her newest memoir:

"Every adult owes every young person (and each other) the truth.  Not the facts - you can get the facts from various sources.  The truth is how human beings feel - how a particular action makes a human being sad or happy - so when people encounter that particular feeling, they can say, oh, I know this feeling because someone else has been there before."  - Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

Yes.  This.

I think social media is a lot like giving a donation - you only have control over the intent of what you put out there and can't begrudge the receiver for taking it another way.  I do think it is important to be clear and honest about that intention.  We all have different reasons for sharing what we do and those reasons probably don't always come from a place of altruism and strength - it's sometimes for our own sense of goodness and validation.

I write about the good stuff as a way to capture and hopefully outshine the bad for myself and for others, and I offer the messy stuff too in hopes to shed a little light on simply being human because that's part of digging deeper and finding the juiciness of real connection.

Joy + Honesty.  They can both live together, happily ever after.  At least if you come visit me in my world.