Anatomy of Social Media - MetroFamily Magazine
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Anatomy of Social Media

by Mari Farthing

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

I read a blog post online last week about how we need to stop being so fake in our online lives. Because when we share those thin slivers of hand-crafted, whipped-cream-topped perfection that happen in our day (while decidedly NOT sharing the rest of the messy, unsavory pie), what are we really doing? When we post a zoomed-in shot of smiles and happiness, cropping out the mess or the reality that doesn’t fit in the picture, are we lying or just playing along?

When we cross the sticky kitchen floor, noting as we leave the room that our DH has *still* not put the refrigerator back into place after pulling it out to check what part is needed to fix the thingy that won’t work (which, deep down, you know isn’t going to happen for another week or two) and you cross into the living room to find one of your children doing some sort of weird back crawl through the house so you grab your smartphone and snap a shot of his smiling face and crazy hair and the other child in the bathroom screaming at the top of their lungs that “Someone pooped! And didn’t flush!” and you remember that, oh yeah, that toilet needs to be fixed but you can barely hear the child screaming over the dulcet tones of said DH still snoring away while you’re already on your third cup of coffee this sunny weekend morning, and you tap the Facebook app on your phone to upload your pic and change your status update to "Coffee, sunshine & smiles… life is good!" and up pops a picture of a happy family doing something active and together and bordering on perfection (digging for seashells, picking apples, going for an early morning hike—fill in your own version of perfection here), yeah … it can be a little hard to accept that this noisy mess? This is your life.

But this isn’t the stuff that social media is made of. Messy or unhappy isn’t usually the stuff that we share. Don’t we all want to share happy moments? But really, I think for a mom, it's an outlet, a catharsis. I've heard that if you want to feel happier, you should smile more… this is like a social media equivalent of that. If you want to love your happy life, find those moments, grab onto them and pimp them out for all they're worth. Because the other side of the overly perfect social media example is the kvetch, the one who never met a situation that didn’t deserve it’s own complaining rant. I think I’m guilty of both. Oh, and also the random song lyrics and movie quotes—I’m horrible for that.

I once reached out to a friend I reconnected to via Facebook, to let her know that I was so happy for her and how things were going in her life. She seemed to have it all, and I was just thrilled for her, knowing that it had been an uphill struggle. Her reply? It was all a front. She was miserable, and still struggling and thankful that I had reached out to her.

And that’s when I remembered what this whole “social media” thing was all about. It’s not about just sitting back and watching to see what this one is doing for date night or what book that one is reading. It’s another avenue for us to connect, really connect with one another.

So the next time you read one of those perfect status updates, complete with that cropped-in shot of smiles and perfection, remember that the bigger picture is really more important. Messy floors, broken toilets, snoring husbands, screaming children and all.

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