The digital universe needs an injection of realness. I’ve got the needle. One of the many places where the first half of this year took me was one of deep sadness and loneliness (more on that in another post) and I’m not sad to have closed that chapter. Still, if you’d been following me on social media you would have had no idea. My Instagram in particular would have told you I was living a life of sun, sea and sexy bikinis. My Facebook account has been ripe with my snarky wit and commentary about everything other than my own personal life… as usual.
Only on one day – or to be more precise, on the night of April 11th – did my facade crumble. My Instagram post of the previous day was a witty, not-so-toungue-in-cheek quote:
“I walk around like everything is fine, but deep down, inside my shoe, my sock is sliding off.”
It got me 13-odd likes and some chuckles. But on Facebook, on the night of April 11th, I begged my friends not to turn to me for help; I just couldn’t handle ONE more problem.
Since then, the unarguable and probably unsurprising social airbrushing of my life has led me to think… It has led me to realise that there are real strategies to tweaking one’s social media presence to make it look like everything is always okay. Strategies which I employ, without ever really having to think of it. I say this because – although we are all smart enough not to believe everything we see on Instagram – when we feel low it’s easy to forget that everyone around us is likely playing a very deep game.
This post is partially about coming clean. It’s also instructive.
Why would I teach people to deceive others? Well… Firstly, I know that like me, you may not want to burden others with your stresses, failures and fears. It may be a type of generosity – trying to be a ray of sunshine in peoples lives and not an unpredictable dark cloud.
Plus, although I may seem to spill my guts readily here in my Diary, I’m actually a very private person. I LIKE being secure in the knowledge that the inner workings of my heart are still a secret to most. I don’t judge people for airbrushing their lives – I understand the need to be present, to be seen… while reserving the right to conceal one’s vulnerabilities. It’s basic human nature.
So, if you want to look like you live in a Neverland of perfect uninterrupted bliss, here’s how you do it;
- Plan posts aaaaages in advance.
When Christmas comes, or Valentine’s day, or your birthday, or even just the end of the month, it’s never a surprise. You know, well in advance, that lots of people will post some tribute to mothers on Mothers’ Day. So you plan. I currently have 5 draft blog posts just waiting to be tweaked and put on the press. I have dozens of old pictures taken on fun outings to picturesque locations with friends. I can post one at any time. So, who knows what’s actually going on with me RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT?
2. Take pictures that don’t tell the whole story.
Like this one.
Long story short: I’m not going anywhere. I’m not even dressed up. You assume I am because I’m wearing nice shoes. Really though, you don’t even know if they’re mine. I am the Jedi Master of Misdirection.
3. Stockpile witty memes and videos.
Some days I just hunt for fun quotes or pictures that reflect my values… or whatever image I want to project to the world. Whatever I like, I save to my phone or computer. When I post these, I don’t feel like a liar. They ARE things that really inspire me, represent my beliefs or make me laugh.
But I don’t post them all right away. They sit in my digital pictures album, waiting for their virtual day in the sun. Sometimes, from the other side of their screens, my readers have no idea that I’m crying while I’m making them laugh.
4. Milk the Splurge
Yes, I spout financial advice all the time. But I do splurge sometimes. I even regret it sometimes, though I usually don’t because I keep a splurge list (more on that in another post) just for those days. Still, it hurts my bank account and is often a sign of some kind of inner struggle. So, I milk every splurge to the max by taking pictures of fun new items I bought, dressing up in my new clothes or RAVING about the new things I love – which helps me trick myself into a better state of mind. It may also trick my followers into thinking my life is one unending shopping spree and my home is constantly full of cool new stuff. I’m afraid that just ain’t true…
5. Beauty Treatments
I didn’t invent this one. In fact, I’m pretty certain that it’s a universal truth: Women almost invariably get a new haircut after a breakup. We have our nails done when the pressures at work seem enormous. We wear our most swanky outfit to that social event we’ve been dreading. I’m no different. Right when my life seemed to be spiraling out of my control, I developed a new obsession; nail art.
The frugal side of me wouldn’t allow me to go the the nail salon to have my nails done, but no longer was I going to be the girl with the boring, chipping natural nails among a flock of acrylic-adorned flamingos. I learned how to do fancy things to my nails and it gave me something to do, something with which I could distract myself and something I could feel proud of. Nobody who saw my sparkly nail gems and pretty Instagram photos would have guessed that my nails were the weapon with which I was fighting the tedium, trials and tribulations of life…
Whew! That was a tiny bit cathartic. That was the truth.
However you want to brand yourself, the internet is the world’s window into your home. If you want to kick the dirty laundry under the bed before the world looks in, I hope my tips have helped. Buyer beware though; even if you employ these strategies, occasional emotional upchuck may still occur!
Last, but not least, remember; always do want you have to do to be the happiest version of you… to really be happy… not just to appear that way.