social media

If You’re Going to Post, Post What’s True

As a creature of habit, my routine in the morning is almost identical every single day of the workweek. Among pressing snooze a few times, listening to a podcast, and making a (usually empty) promise to myself that we’ll nap later, checking Timehop—an app that connects to your social media accounts and shows you posts you made on that day in years past—is a staple.

Even though the Facebook posts, Instagram pictures and tweets can sometimes be unbearably cringy, I like to check in on the person I was however many years ago, and observe how much I’ve grown since then.

But among the goofy, the melodramatic, and the sometimes indecipherable posts, I sometimes find ones that make me downright frown. Because even now, after all these years, I can still feel the inauthenticity. It only takes a second to read the words or scan the picture to remember that the only reason I posted that was to impress/amuse/appease someone else.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be too hard on myself. We all go through periods of growth. Seasons when we’re trying on different versions of ourselves to see which one fits. Thus, reading those posts that definitely aren’t me could be viewed as little more than skimming digital records of that growing process. But it also makes me sad to see how much I valued the opinions and acceptance of others over presenting a truthful version of myself.

These days, I do my best to present nothing but the truth. Not only for the benefit of my present self (and anyone who might view what I post) but also for my future self, who, upon skimming Timehop one or two or five years from now can look back and be proud that I was confident enough to be my true self. After all, as much fun as it is to receive love and praise and “likes” for something we post, none of that will mean much if you know that what you posted is an ingenuine representation of who you are and what you’re feeling.

Think of social media like a scrapbook or a journal, minus the fear of it getting lost or worn with time. Once you put something on the Internet, it’s there forever. Which is kind of scary, but also kind of cool if you use it to your advantage. Technology is scrapbooking our memories for us, storing them for future “awww’s” and “eww’s” and “OH MY GOSH’s.”

Don’t get me wrong; posting to social media is a choice. The world will only see what you want it to see, but with that being said, why choose to only show the world a lie? What good does that do anyone, especially your future self who might want to look back and connect.

At the end of the day, I’m not here to judge you or anything you do or do not want to post to social media, and I expect you’d give me the same courtesy. But over the years, I’ve found that if you are going to post something, it’s always better to post what’s true. It’s better for you, it’s better for those around you, and it’s better for the world as a whole. We don’t get anywhere when we lie to each other, and we only go backwards when we lie to ourselves.

Stop Trying to Be Relatable

Have you ever been hanging out with a group of people you only kind of know, so you’re trying your best to come off as someone completely normal and confident and witty and friendly and successful—in a completely casual way, of course—and then suddenly they start talking about something you know absolutely nothing about?

You listen, trying desperately to find a story or factoid in your brain that would be an appropriate contribution, but nothing comes. So you just sit, smiling and nodding, wishing you’d done more with your life so you could be a more well-rounded, knowledge-of-all-things type of person.

As they continue—for much longer than they should on any topic, really, but especially on this particular one, which you still know nothing about, making you regret every life choice that didn’t provide you with the most basic of knowledge on it—you briefly consider making something up. Something basic. Something untraceably false that will connect you to these people. But then you worry your nerves will inadvertently add hyperbole to your statement, making it an obvious lie, completely shooting a hole in your credibility as a conversationalist and overall human being. So ultimately you decide to stay quiet, and though it provokes a few wary glances, you accept them, for it has become clear that you simply cannot relate.

In the world of social media, “relatability” has become a key element in our admiration of others. We love the celebrities that share pictures of themselves sans makeup and in sweatpants, admittedly lazing it up on a Saturday afternoon. We love the moms that post horror stories about their children and the young adults that post picture after picture of their failed attempts at homemade meals. They post these moments and we repost them, delighted at their humanness, and caption them with things like, “this is totally me.”

When we find these shared peculiarities, especially with those we look up to in the media, we are given a sense of kinship and belonging. Suddenly the things about us we thought were weird are the very qualities that connect us to someone we admire. And as we see those personalities being praised and adored for their candor and uniqueness, we start to believe that we too have that same chance. So we share. We share and we share and we share. We tag and we hashtag. Hoping to be liked. But at what point in this process do we stop striving for honesty and start searching for relatability? When do our interests and our words start shifting away from what we believe and towards what we think others will enjoy?

This is where it seems that being “relatable” becomes less of a happy coincidence and more of a believed standard for acceptance. But isn’t it the raw honesty of a confession that makes a connection that much more surprising and meaningful? Isn’t it the shock value that makes it fun?

Why pretend you like decorative DIY pots when you’d rather put flowers in old Arrowhead water bottles?

Why pretend you know anything about classic movies when you’d rather discuss the newest episode of The Bachelor?

Why pretend you’re completely put together when you’re perfectly okay with being a hot mess (or vice versa!)?

Why pretend you like organic vegetables when you legitimately CANNOT taste the difference and you’d rather save $40 and buy the non-organic ones?

No matter who you are or what your weird looks like, the world would be lucky to get acquainted. And chances are, the moment you introduce yourself you’d find someone out there saying, “OH MY GOSH ME TOO!”

So stop trying to be relatable, be you and it will come naturally.