Highlight Reel vs Reality–Do You Know the Difference?
I didn’t lie to you! I promise!
Today was supposed to be a blog swap with author Sherry Ewing, but due to technical problems—Sherry experienced some server issues—we decided to reschedule our switch-up to September 9th. She felt bad for the last minute change, but I assured her the Blog Police wouldn’t issue a warrant for our arrest.
Reminder: Author Gemma Brocato is hosting me on her blog tomorrow, where she’s posting Five Fun Facts about yours truly—including how many novels I’ve written (you might be surprised), how old I was when I wrote the first one, and whether I play any musical instruments. I hope you’ll click over tomorrow and have a look.
In the meantime, it’s time for today’s Naked Truth, and I want to talk about a complaint I have with social media—Facebook in particular.
If your eyes just rolled back in your head and you started to hyperventilate, you might qualify as a Social Media Maven. Since I don’t want to be responsible for anyone needing to breathe into a paper bag, please let me clarify. This isn’t the usual rant about what a time suck social media can be—even though we all know it is, because to a person we’ve taken time from our lives to scroll and giggle, and say “awww…” at videos of kittens and puppies, and baby elephants lumbering gleefully across the savanna (just admit you’ve done this—the scrolling, not the lumbering—and it will save you years of therapy down the road). Nor is this a rant about all of the advertisements popping up in the Facebook newsfeed, although if I were going to rant about it, I’d mention that as an author who researches stuff, it is rather troubling that everything I Google ends up in my newsfeed—try explaining a rash of dating site ads and breast enhancement products to your husband: “But honey, it was from research! I swear!”
No, I’m not complaining about those things. I’m complaining about something we glean from social media which even the staunchest supporter cannot dispute: faux reality.
Considering the popularity of Reality TV—a misnomer if ever there was one—it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that social media is itself a vehicle for the same sort of skewed view of real life. You may have heard this quote by author and Christian pastor Steven Furtick: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Furtick wasn’t specifically talking about social media, but it certainly applies. Facebook in particular is a venue that invites this circumstance, not because people are lying, but because they’re only showing half the story. Facebook is a little bit like those chatty “year in review” letters we receive in Christmas cards. You know the ones I’m talking about. Everything is sunny-side up. Even the negatives are couched in fluff. We don’t mind, because we know that nobody lives on a bed of roses and, anyway, who wants to hear the nitty-gritty details of Aunt Phoebe’s stint in the hoosegow after driving Uncle Jim’s new Lexus—with Uncle Jim in it—into Boston Harbor, to protest his affair with that homewrecker, Chamomile Steeper, heiress to the great Oompah Oolong dynasty? (Well, okay, to be fair, I would totally want to hear about it, but you get my drift.) Point is, the letter would say, “Aunt Phoebe accepted her formal invitation by the city of Boston to take an extended vacation—on their dime! What luck!—and has returned to us with a new lease on life! Her husband, Uncle Jim, that rascal, has just purchased a brand new car, and he’s sworn off that high-caf oolong citing serious heart problems. Let’s hope the upcoming year brings good things for these two lovebirds.”
One of the reasons I’m going on about this is because of a comment made by the teenage daughter of a friend of mine. The girl was upset and crying about something that happened at school. It was one of the same issues that teenage girls have been dealing with since the dawn of time. The girl said, no, everyone didn’t have the same problems as she. She saw their Facebook pages and knew that their lives were better, happier, easier, blah, blah, blah. After all, they never posted anything really negative, right?
Sometimes, not often, we share negative stuff on Facebook—when we crave group support through a difficult time, or need to vent, or hope five-hundred prayers shooting heavenward will help deliver us some grace. But for the most part, we post our highlight reels, the day-to-day bits that make us laugh or smile, the good things we want others to know. We scroll through the feed and smile at the kittens and elephants, find relief from a hard day in the antics of puppies and babies of all species. We revel in the good news shared by our friends. This is good. But it isn’t the whole reality. It’s the highlight reel. The harm comes not to those of us who realize this, but to those who can’t tell the difference.
Do you spend time on social media? If so, which outlet is your favorite? What is your opinion of the “highlight reel” assessment? Have you had personal experience with someone who took social media too much to heart?
Thanks for hanging out with me. I hope you’ll stop by Gemma Brocato’s blog tomorrow and say hello to me there! Have a great rest-of-your-week. See you back here on Friday for Observations From the Tub!