Lately, there’s been a lot of hubbub surrounding the lack of “realness” on social media. After a couple years of the Insta-life, it seems people are getting more and more aggravated with the fact that our feeds are not, in fact, the most accurate port holes into the lives of others. For the most part, I’ve been pretty dismissive of the issue. I’m okay with the fact that a majority of the people I follow post images that are posed, edited, curated, whatever. Although I understood why this lack of transparency annoyed others, it wasn’t cause I was inspired to rally behind. But I recently had an experience that gave me a new perspective on the controversy- and why it needs to stop.
Last week, I participated in Finally Free’s #LiveYourDream2016 Instagram challenge. For those who don’t know, Finally Free is a coaching program designed to help you find peace in your body and mind. I’d never done an Instagram challenge before, but my mad respect for Finally Free’s co-founders, Simi and Paige, convinced me to sign up. Every day of #LiveYourDream involved a new exercise, from brainstorming goals for the new year to reflecting on your identity (that was a toughie). While all tasks requiring introspection are difficult, completing them proved to be the easy part. The real challenge came next, when I had to share what I’d learned…on Instagram.
It was scary. Because while I wasn’t sharing my deepest, darkest secrets, but I was broadcasting some pretty deep realizations about myself and the world for everyone to read. I hesitated every time I pressed “post,” agonizing over what people might think when they saw the photo and read the caption. I’d love to say that anxiety got better over time, but I’d be lying.
Here’s the thing, guys: Getting real on social media is hard. Completing the #LiveYourDream2016 challenge made me realize that all the posing, cropping, curating, etc. is our first instinct. Our gut tells us to only present the “best” examples of ourselves, and we listen. To be completely transparent in our social media posts means going against our inherent desire for perfection. And, as I learned through the Instagram challenge, it’s a hard bug to shake. So why are we criticizing people for being “fake” if that impossible quest for flawlessness is something we all share? Instead, we should support one another and encourage authenticity while also saying it’s okay if you don’t feel comfortable posting about your messy life house. That beautiful image of your latte on the one clean square of your kitchen counter is great, too.
The #LiveYourDream2016 challenge was a truly eyeopening experience. Thanks to Paige and Simi’s exercises, I gained new insight into who I am and who I want to be, not to mention the steps I can take to achieve those goals. But also I learned something more: After completing the challenge, I understand the level of pressure there is associated with social media. While I have mountains of respect for people whose posts are 100% authentic, I feel for those who, like me, struggle to marry the desire to share with the belief that we should deliver nothing less than perfection. More than anything, I want to encourage people not judge others’ social media “honesty.” It’s a crazy digital world out there, and we all need every friend we can get.
No, but seriously: I need you. Follow me on Instagram. 😉