I remember a few years back I joined a photo a day challenge. It was called #keepingitrealnovember and each day we photographed a different area in our house without any staging, as it was, in all it’s laundry mountain glory. I found myself wincing when I would look at a picture of the top of my fridge or my kid’s room and think, if I could just move this and that and retake the photo from another angle then post the picture….but this wasn’t #keepingitreal.
With recent parodies calling out Instagrammer cliches, or online beauty stars exposing what really happens behind their scenes; we all see the paint chipping on the glossy social media world. We all feel onset of tension as we use social media.
On one hand, It is a medium where we can showcase the beauty in our every day. Piles of folded laundry or a single mug on a windowsill become art. We can share our highlights, our wins, the little bits of Heaven in our daily world. On the other hand, it is a marketplace where ‘you are your brand’ and perhaps we have lost that personable quality that social media was first intended for. We might feel burdened with a slew of images and posts trying to sell us things and attract followers. We might feel like we need to follow suit. We might feel defeated seeing everyone’s best foot forward and forget that the comparison game is a road block to our authenticity.
We all struggle with authenticity in our daily life, so of course we struggle with it online. If we feel the need to keep up a polished, artful feed and positive captions – it can hinder us from sharing the whole picture of our lives. Online we are also at constant risk to protect our image because the anonymous hater is quicker to hurl negativity than someone would to our face.
For some of us being on social media is fun, for some it is a business, but for everyone – it is a platform. We share a life online and we are called to glorify God with it. Being authentic, sharing our story so they can see His story, being present and genuinely engaged allows us to nurture and grow a community that knows Jesus through us. So it is important that every image we post and every word we write, we are building up a persona of who we genuinely are. If this persona is not authentic to our offline self then every like, comment, follow, and fan is not really validating us but rather validating the version of ourselves we portray.
How do we know if we are being our authentic selves online? It is less about what we are sharing and more about why we are sharing. With each tweet, post, Instagram,etc. we can navigate our motives and ask, “who is this post serving?”. We can share the wonderful parts of our life to celebrate and encourage, rather than flood our profile with only one side of our story. As we allow ourselves to share the harder parts of our story, we will find it is someone else’s story, and we can glorify God with that testimony. We can keep ourselves accountable and ask our friends if they feel like what we post is who we are. We can stop to evaluate our relationship with social media and question what we are seeking out of our online posts and interactions. And if that Instagram Husband video hit a little too close to home, maybe we can take a step back from social media for a while, at least until you stop scrolling instagram filters in your sleep.