Let’s face it. We all do it…Taking 25 photos to get the perfect shot for Instagram. We change the lighting, telling our kids to smile or they aren’t getting dessert, and frantically try to get the perfect shot before someone has a meltdown (I may or may not be talking about myself with the meltdowns.)
Social media is a beautiful thing that has bridged a gap so that we can be friends with people easily from around the world. However, with it has become a trap that you may not even be aware you have fallen into.
There are actually two sides the to this trap, the side of the photo taker and the side of the photo viewer. I have been on both sides and I fear unintentionally made someone to feel that my life is all butterflies and rainbows and perfectly posed photos that I get right on the first try. As a viewer, it’s so easy to get caught in the comparison trap “oh looks, she is taking her kids to the park AGAIN. I haven’t taken mine in weeks, I’m a bad mom.” Or, “she’s at the gym again, she takes the perfect mirror selfie and looks awesome after a sweat session!” Or, “her baby is perfect. She is always smiling or laughing in photos. I bet she takes long naps every day and never cries!”
I can assure you, what you see in my Instagram feed is NOT my reality. But let’s face it, we all want to look nice and no one wants to see pictures of a crying baby, so we do our best to show our “best” side, while at the same time potentially making people assume untrue things about our lives. Let me give you some examples I randomly pulled from my instagram:
This picture was taken just about 5 minutes before I got a phone call from my mom that my dad was taken to the ER for a terrible allergic reaction after he passed out. It was a few days before Christmas and I was FREAKING OUT. It wasn’t quite the cute little “daddy playing with baby” scene after that.
The following photo was labeled our “first walk as a family.” I had built up this moment in my head, with visions of Bobby and I walking hand in hand while the baby cooed, and the dogs healed happily at our sides and it was the perfect temperature outside. Heh. Bobby and I actually ended up getting into a fight on our first walk! I was upset because it wasn’t going as “planned”. The baby was crying, it was REALLY windy and the blanket wasn’t staying on the carset to cover the baby, further annoying her (and me). All I asked Bobby to do was KEEP THE DOGS OUT OF THE WAY OF THE STROLLER WHEELS so I didn’t run them over, and well, let’s just say he needs some work on how to handle dog leashes. I just wanted to go back to the house and forget it ever happened. Sigh.
Oh look at the cute first photo of the new family of three in the hospital. It looks like baby is happily eating and mom and dad are thrilled with their little bundle of joy. Oh boy. Emma Kate was jaundiced because she wasn’t getting enough to eat because I was producing zero milk. I was in an excruciating about of pain with a huge ice pack shoved into my giant mesh panties. I was so tired I just wanted to cry, and people kept coming in at all hours to take my blood, give me medicine, have me feed the baby and what not, so I was quite delirious. I honestly don’t even remember this picture being taken.
Ah, this one is a gem. Worst. Disney. Trip. Ever. and it was totally and 100% my fault. This was during the 2014 Princess half marathon, at the height of my morning sickness and exhaustion during pregnancy. I have never KNOWN such exhaustion. I used to think staying up late to study in college and surviving on a 30 minute nap was exhausting. I was running the 5k, 10k, and half marathon and no one knew I was pregnant except my family and a couple friends. My parents went with us, and we had a big beautiful club level room at the Boardwalk with a great view. I stayed in bed about 80% of the trip, ate no yummy food, and was mean to everyone. I knew I was doing it I just couldn’t help it. Crazy pregnancy hormones for the win. I would literally get out of bed, eat breakfast, then be so exhausted I had to go sleep for 3 hours. Poor Bobby just hung out in the room with me and my parents went off to the parks. I am still not sure how I ran all three races without dying or killing someone. I have cried about this trip because I knew it would be our last chance to travel before baby, and I was “ruining” it. So “yay” for the fun balcony pic with all my bling and weeeee I’m in Disney World! Excuse me while I go vomit over the railing.
Then there is poor sweet Emma Kate. Judging by my feed you would think the child is always laughing. You should see the out takes. I take anywhere from 10-30 pictures of her and the chalkboard every month, and get maybe 2-3 “keepers”. Homegirl can make some faces.
Don’t forget about the beautiful “I’m just chillin in Los Angeles, oh look it’s the ocean from my balcony!” pic. This was taken literally seconds after I got out of bed. The view was beautiful so I thought I could try to do some artsy creative “good morning from LA” shot. There is one tiny problem, I am neither artsy nor creative. I got some hilarious outtakes from this one. Because of the angle of the sun, I had to keep turning my phone certain ways or the sun was DIRECTLY IN MY EYES burning holes in my corneas. Those were keepers. Not.
I love candid shots, and this one came out really cute, except you could see some serious wrinkles around my eyes in the color shot. Enter black and white! There, now don’t I look about 18? I wish.
This is an old one, taken back in the fall of 2012. I was struggling with major anxiety during this time due to some personal and job stuff with my husband, and the side effect was bad stomach issues. This in turn caused me to drop about 15 pounds. This is the thinnest I had been since high school, and I was so sick I could barely eat. People kept telling me how good I looked, but if only they knew the crap I was going though and I was not intentionally trying to lose weight. I was really unhappy but “I feel great I just ran 18 miles!” Still not sure how I pulled that off on my 500 calorie a day anxiety diet.
And finally, another attempt at being artsy. I was on the Santa Monica Pier and wanted a cool medal shot. The only problem was the sun was beating down and I couldn’t see the screen on my phone. I took no less than 20 shots and just crossed my fingers that when I got back to the hotel where I could actually see that ONE of the photos came out ok. Aren’t I cool?
So, as you can see, my life is messy, unpredictable, and boring. Not to mention all the mundane in between days where I don’t have anything exciting to post. For instance, I posted a picture yesterday of my dog in a laundry basket. That was about the most photo worthy thing that happened all day, I kid you not.
And don’t get me started on filters. They can really turn a photo around, and I very rarely post a “no filter” photo unless it’s of my dog in a laundry basket. She looks adorable in any lighting.
So what is my point to all of this? I guess just to take social media with a grain of salt. Yes I have gotten the opportunity to do some awesome things and go to fun places, but most of my life is your everyday mundane stuff like doing mountains of laundry, cleaning spit up off my pajama pants, and making tacos for the third time this week. But who wants to see pictures of that? I don’t think anyone is “at fault” here, I just want everyone to be careful to guard your minds from falling into the comparison trap based solely on the Instagram life. I can promise you the person behind the photos is struggling with SOMETHING, so let’s not forget that we are all fighting battles, and sometimes it’s ok to just be real. #NoFilter.
QOTD: What are your thoughts on Instagram photos and the comparison trap? Have you fallen for it?