Facebook lies. Not intentionally- it just frames the truth in a specific way. Last year I was emailing with a friend who lives in a different country. I sent her an email talking about some of the challenges we had been facing. Her response was one of shock—“based on your Facebook pictures I had no idea.” I can’t tell you how many times I see pictures that display people in happy amazing lives. I mean what else would you post—your mess; a fight with your spouse; career struggles; financial stress? Generally we don't want to hang out our washing for everyone to see! The pictures are great but they only show a snapshot of time. Generally we post to share about the good things of our life—not the struggles. Which works as long as we don't try to make sense of our life in comparison to a grid of what is normal that we determine from social media.
I was speaking to one of my best friends on the phone about how I struggle sometimes with the fact that I’ve moved my kids around. My initial dream was that they would grow up in the same house with the same friends and community—being known. My friend laughed. Her kids have lived in the same house with the same friends in an amazing community. She sometimes struggles that they haven’t moved and given her kids the adventure of living other places. My point is this—there is always something, someone else. The challenge in our life is to choose our life: to embrace our life, our kids, our spouse, our bodies. This doesn’t mean we can’t work to change but until we love “me” and “mine,” I don’t think we can discern what to change. A funny thing happens when we fall in love with “ourself”—other people can be themselves without threatening us. It means I can say no to things. I can let my kids be my kids with out trying to control them, coerce them, and persuade them to be something else. I can look at your Facebook pictures and rejoice rather than be thrown into a panic that my kids can’t do the splits, and haven’t ever seen the Grand Canyon.
Last night my eldest was in a 4x400m relay race. My second came with me to watch not intending to run. There was an alternate race that another kid from the school didn’t want to run, so they had an empty spot. All of a sudden there was a swarm of kids and parents asking her to fill the spot. I pulled her away and she burst into tears. Any past people pleasing part of me would have wanted to persuade her to just try it, I may or may not have bribed her with ice cream afterwards or used my words to convince her she wanted to do it. Instead, I was able to hold her while she cried and ask her what she wanted to do. We talked through her fear, how her body felt tired, what the decision entailed. Then she made a decision herself. And because I’m ok with me, I’m ok with her being her and making her decision.
So for any of us trying to make sense of our life based on the lives of people on Facebook stop….just stop. First comparison never goes anywhere. Second we have no idea what is behind the pictures we see. Stop the comparison wars! There is only one you-be you. You live only one life—live yours. And in the midst of whatever triumphs, joy’s, struggles, pain, know that at the other end of the pictures people post there are real people also struggling with real life.