Have you ever noticed that social media paints a perfect picture?
Everyone posts their 'best self'.
Smiling faces, joyous moments, positive highlights.
Photo-shopped images with flattering filters.
I mean, it makes sense. And I admit I'm just as guilty of this as everyone else on the planet.
I don't want the world to see my early-morning puffy eyes, or my hair graying at the roots before my next application of hair color.
So of course I'm not going to post those pictures. Nobody wants to see that.
The definition of 'perfect' in the Miriam-Webster dictionary is "being entirely without fault or defect: flawless."
But there's a problem with this picture we're painting.
Humans, as a rule, are flawed.
There is no such thing as a "flawless" person, it simply doesn't exist.
Though we tend to be glaringly aware of our own faults, we still fall into the trap of believing that others live in glorious perfection.
We see the evidence of the perfect marriage, beautiful house, and happy children traveling the world while enjoying their awesome vacation right there smiling at us from Facebook, so it must be true, right?
The picture is the 'proof.'
What the pictures don't show is how hard the couple has to work to keep their marriage working. Maybe they hardly see each other because of their work schedules, and that vacation is the only chance they have to reconnect.
Could the mortgage payments on the beautiful house and the upkeep expenses be sinking that couple further and further into debt so that they feel like they're drowning in bills?
The children, going through a rebellious stage, may be smiling for the first time in weeks while traveling.
We can never really know what is going on in someone else's world. Social media pictures only depict a very small glimpse of the complete picture.
Two recent stories pulled on my heartstrings and inspired me to write this blog post. One personal, and one in the media.
The first: My husband and I found out some casual friends, who we thought were candidates for the title of the 'perfect couple', are currently in the process of divorcing. Nothing could have shocked us more, and it rocked our world.
The second: Chris Watts. A Colorado man who confessed to murdering his pregnant wife and two beautiful children. If you look at Shannan Watts' Facebook page, they appear to be a poster-family of happiness. Clearly, a misguided impression. It was reported by Fox News that "Shanann Watts' Facebook account paints a portrait of a happy family, with a constant feed of photos and videos of her family, friends and herself. Her comments are typically upbeat and say how happy she is, whether she's running errands, playing with her kids or promoting a health program. She posted a photo on June 19 of some texts with her husband after sending him a sonogram. He replied that he loved the baby already. She posted: I love Chris! He's the best dad us girls could ask for." Two months later he took their lives. (Click here to read the article.)
I'm not sure what the answer is. Things aren't going to change. People will still post their 'happy' photos. Yes, including me.
But I worry about our youth growing up thinking that perfection in life is attainable, and it worries me deep down inside.
Will teenagers compare their lives to those of others, and in their own eyes always fall short?
Could seeing all the falsley 'perfect' people on social media make them feel 'less than' they truly are?
The answer is: I don't know. There's no simple solution. No bandaid to make it all better.
Of one thing I'm absolutely sure.
No one is perfect.
Next time you're scrolling through the newsfeed, stop and pause.
Remind yourself that a picture only shows one moment in time.
Just a glimpse.
You may not be perfect.
But neither is that person smiling up at you from the screen.
"No one is perfect. But many people are going to end this day in gratitude, at least for being alive." - Terry Mark
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Kristen L. Jackson, Author of KEEPER OF THE WATCH
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