Highlight Reels

“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain

It must be that “time of year” because I seem to be having the same conversation with everyone. How do we compare? It’s natural for all of us to look at our neighbors and wonder, “How do I measure up?” or “How does my life compare?”

When the show “Friends” was on, I remember thinking, “How do a coffee shop waitress, a masseuse, and a chef afford a 3 bedroom apartment in Manhattan?” Answer: “They don’t. It’s a set. These aren’t real people.”

I have to say that I think being content with life was a lot easier before social media. Imagine going to a friend’s much bigger house for dinner. You walk in and the place is immaculate. Your host jokingly comments, “Sorry the place is such a mess. I just didn’t have time to clean it after work, my book club meeting, and my yoga class.” You think to yourself, “Wow. My house looks like a hurricane blew through and left garbage all over the floor, and I didn’t make it out of my pajama pants until 3 PM. Plus, I think I wore my socks inside out to work yesterday.” You start to feel bad about yourself and your unfortunate lot in life. Now imagine going to this friend’s awesome house EVERY SINGLE DAY. That’s social media.

What you don’t realize is that she actually had to take the day off of work to clean the place up. She hasn’t been to yoga in a month, and she hated every single minute of the book club meeting because she didn’t have time to read the book between her children’s middle of the night puking sessions. Why not just say that? Because it’s not in our nature to admit that we have flaws. And it’s not in our nature to share those flaws with the world via social media.

On multiple platforms, you can show the world how amazing you are. Sounds great, unless you get sucked into the thought process that “everyone is doing way better than me.”

Sure, some people may have a charmed life and everything seems to go right for them, but the reality is that no one’s life is that charmed. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote by a North Carolina pastor – “One of the reasons we struggle with insecurity is because we’re comparing our ‘behind the scenes’ with everybody else’s ‘highlight reel.”

On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., I give you my highlight reel. I present cute photos of Mia and Fynn, but I don’t take photos of Fynn’s temper tantrums or Mia’s many appointments or my messy house. Those aren’t pretty. They aren’t fun to talk about. No amount of pretty filters on Instagram are going to make those better.

All of the social media sites are a nice way to stay in touch, but they aren’t a nice way to bench-mark our lives. We rarely let people into our darker thoughts or our truly embarrassing moments. There’s a good reason for that. Some things are private and should remain that way.

Social media sites are small talk at a cocktail party.

And small talk is just fine just as long as we don’t assume that we’re getting the full story. If I spend all day comparing my messy life to everyone else’s Facebook life, I will always come up short.

So enjoy the status updates, the photos, the shared videos and fun quotes, but don’t let the highlight reels get you down. I’m sure your highlight reel looks pretty good too.

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2 Responses to Highlight Reels

  1. Kate says:

    Why don’t people ever share their non-highlight reels, on social media or IRL except when you get a really long time to talk with someone? I must be the only one who does. Granted, there is plenty I don’t share on FB because of being friends there with people like my husband’s uncle or step-FIL, there are just things they don’t need to know, but for the most part I’m pretty honest. But then again, I’m lonely and FB is my connection to the world most days so I’m desperate…yup, another non-highlight reel admission right there.

    PS I need a follow comments button option because I only sporadically visit, and I won’t know if you reply! You get right on that, ok?? It’s not like you have anything else better to be doing! ;-P

  2. erin says:

    I know exactly what you mean. It’s tough being a stay at home mom for different reasons than tough kids. I mean, taking care of the two kids is way easier than being alone all of the time. That’s the part that sucks. Hard to have water cooler conversations as a stay at home mom. You know you can ALWAYS IM me on FB or whatever if you feel like a chat. That’s my water cooler place. 😉

    I’ll also message you my google chat info. I’m there a lot too.

    I always thought it would be fun to do an entire Instagram of moms’ messy houses. Like take a picture when it’s at its worst!

    Hmmm….follow comments button. I’m not sure the 1&1 WordPress has one. I’ll investigate.

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