A friend of mine recently took a hiatus from Facebook.
It was prompted, she said, by the growing disconnect she saw happening between what people were posting online and what she knew was really happening in their lives.
So many people were posting pictures and status updates that suggested their lives were perfect in every way – happy family shots, selfies on the beach, “I love my kid” quotes, or photos of themselves laughing with friends in some beautiful outdoor location or ultra hip-looking party.
None of their posts hinted at the problems she knew they were struggling with – difficulties with their spouses or children, problems at work, a worrying lack of client projects or sales coming in, serious health issues, disappointment in themselves, or discontent at where their life is headed.
“We’re all sharing these carefully curated portrayals of our lives – and I feel like it’s taking us further and further away from what’s real,” she said. “I just really needed a break from all that.”
Her words got me thinking about what we share or don’t share on Facebook.
When it comes to sharing on social media, ALL of us curate our lives to some degree. It’s inevitable.
Even if we make a conscious decision to be as authentic and transparent as we can, it’s simply not possible to share EVERY little thing that happens in our life. By necessity, things are going to get left out. After all, not even the Kardashians are capable of showing us every single second of their lives (though it might sometimes feel like they are).
So how do we decide what to make available for public consumption vs. what to keep private?
The answer, I’m sure is different for all of us. For me, it comes down to a simple question:
How is this going to make people FEEL?
Is the content I’m thinking about sharing going to brighten their mood or make them feel better about their lives in some way? Or is it going to bring them down or make them feel envious or inferior?
Is it going to make them laugh – for positive reasons or mean-spirited ones? Is it going to enlighten, inform, or entertain them? Is it going to inspire curiosity, wonder, or awe? Or is it going to make them feel like people suck and the world is a horrible place?
Is it going to inspire them to have faith in themselves and others – or is it going to make them see danger in every dark corner?
Is it going to make them feel hopeful – or despairing?
This is what I ask myself before I hit the publish button.
Does that make it “fake?”
I don’t think so.
I think it means I care about the experience I’m giving the reader.
Sure, I could go on Facebook to vent about the jerk who parked his truck across three spaces in the grocery store parking lot, requiring me to walk an extra thirty whole seconds to the entrance.
Or I could complain about the woman who bitched me out in a private Facebook group because I made the mistake of offering unsolicited advice instead giving her what she really wanted, which was validation of her “It’s impossible! I’ll never succeed!” story.
Or I could post links to articles that talk about how stupid and uneducated the people voting for “the other guy” are.
Or I could write post after post about how awesome my clients are, and how great my relationship with my husband is, and how incredible my genius kids are, and how perfect my life is.
But what kind of experience would that be for the reader?
That’s why I strive to post content that informs, enlightens, entertains, uplifts, or helps people in some way.
I don’t think that means I’m not “keeping it real.” Everything I post reflects something that’s happening in my life, or is thought-provoking, valuable, inspiring, and/or hilarious to me. And I think that makes it intensely personal — even if it is carefully considered instead of shared on a whim.
So that’s how I decide what to share vs. what not to share on Facebook and other social media sites.
How about you? What kind of mental filter do YOU run your social media posts through before you hit “publish”?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!