We live in a time of oversharing and social comparing.
We are all guilty of sharing our best parenting moments with smug rose-tinted spectacles on.
Isn't it funny how we conveniently forget to promote the moments that we're not quite winning?
I mean, how often do you boast that you can't face a trip to the supermarket so you serve up 'whatever-we-have-in on toast', and eat it in your pyjamas? Stained pyjamas?
Meanwhile, that 'perfect' friend is always there to remind you what her golden children look like on their latest far-flung holiday destination.
But surely she too just has one of those days and can't be arsed to wash her hair, or runs out of organic quinoa?
Is social media a reflection of real life?
Some special moments do happen when have our camera handy, and we're lucky to capture them. On the whole though, those perfected images are posed and curated to portray the life we want people to believe that we have.
Back in my twenties (when I really only used Facebook to impress boys), I thought of a social media profile as the equivalent of a shop window.
You advertise the things you want to sell (and know will be popular), whilst hiding the boring crap in a cupboard at the back.
The reason for that is because nobody cares about the mundane stuff. No one wants to copy that. Or date it for that matter.
But if you've moved beyond trying to impress your new fling (I am married and boring now), posts that you share can actually inspire others.
Quite often, posts that my friends share are how I as a parent find new things to do and places to visit.
So is it really that bad to create a social persona?
No, it's fine actually.
It's only really the same as cherry picking the best parts of your weekend to tell your mates.
The real problem is why we do it.
It's the dark side of social media.
Psychology tells us that what we share is viewed as part of our identity - almost like our 'brand'. The responses we get though, can be very damaging.
Those with lower self-esteem can be anxious about how 'popular' their posts are, believing that engagement with their content is a reflection of how interesting they are.
More confident users with higher self-esteem can become narcissistic with an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Heck, some people even post with the intention to make others jealous or seek revenge.
Either way, it doesn't make for normal behaviour and can lead to us living our perceived lives through a profile.
So here's the thing, next time you are having a bad day and scroll through those little squares on Instagram, don't get jealous - just stop for a second.
Keep in mind that it's a snapshot in time when things seemed to be going right for that person.
You have no idea how long it took to get that snap, or what happened before or after the camera clicked. We've all been there when we delete 24 blurry pictures of crying toddlers but somehow managed to get one where they stopped frowning.
Most importantly though, you also don't know how the person was actually feeling at the time. A smile can cover a multitude of emotions or personal situations.
Don't trust everything you see on social media. Even salt looks like sugar with a filter.
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