Grant and I were having dinner last summer with some friends who had recently given up social media. They are both very photogenic, attractive, funny people and had begun to find their identity caught up in their Instagram images. It started out as fun, but they recognized how much it was beginning to get to them, how they noticed their own physical appearances more, and how they obsessed over their follower count, and so they gave it up entirely to live more simply and to get rid of any inward attitudes that were hindering their contentment.
We decided with this other couple that it would be awesome to start a #realliferevolution. So a year later, we are doing just that. We will post not just the triumphs in our lives, but the realness of our lives. Sure, post the pic of you and your love beautifully posed at your friend’s wedding, but then also post the pic of your foodie fail, or a cute pic of your kid (that doesn’t have the pile of laundry in the background cropped out).
Or, hot moms everywhere: if you are posting a picture of yourself on social media in a bikini six months after your baby is born, consider not angling the camera to cut out the stretch marks on your sides. You worked hard for those—growing a tiny human inside of you for nine months!
A real life revolution includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Authenticity matters exponentially more in an age of social media, where we can choose exactly how to portray ourselves through filters, lenses, and the like. If you have seen the recent Jumangi movie with Jack Black and the “Rock,” you may know where I am going with this… whether or not you enjoyed the movie, the point is clear.
In one of the opening scenes, the popular female, teenage lead named Bethany Walker (later played by Jack Black) is laying out in her bedroom on a chaise lounge with a cup of steaming coffee by her side. Her hair is curled, her makeup complete, her perfect outfit already on, and she has out a selfie-stick to snap the best possible shot of herself. In a still shot, she captures the contrived moment that she supposedly rolls out of bed, and posts it on her Instagram feed. The caption reads: “Just rolled out of bed. Ugh Mornings. #nofilter #love.” Of course the scene pokes fun at all of the people who use social media to display their supposedly real lives with totally filtered abandon!
Whether or not you like country music, Brad Paisley’s song, “Online” is hilarious, and makes the same point!
“I’m 5’3 and overweight | I’m a sci-fi fanatic Mild asthmatic | Never been to 2nd base | But there’s a whole another me | That you need to see | Go check out Myspace
‘Cause online I’m down in Hollywood | I’m 6’5 and I look damn good | I drive a Maserati | I’m a black belt in Karate | And I love a good glass of wine”
Considering he mentions “Myspace,” the song dates itself. But nothing much has changed!
Look at social media sites today! Don’t get me wrong, social media has many great benefits. My husband is a big proponent of using it to help churches and faith organizations reach more people with a message of love. And frankly I would be a bigger proponent if I could figure out how to use it more effectively (I am like 85 in tech years).
But the pictures that “some people” post of themselves are ridiculous—positioning their bodies in contorted forms to appear thinner than they really are! Okay, let’s be honest, we have all at very least sucked in the gut a time or two…
We live a culture where image is everything, and you always put your best foot forward (or sometimes someone else’s best foot). But this practice degrades our selves and each other in such unhelpful ways and prevents us from living the rich lives we were meant to live. Living richly can only happen from a place of inward contentment—being happy with who we are, the real person we are inside.
Having inward contentment means living authentically, living into the real moments—the flaws, the foibles, and yes, the beauty too. But living richly cannot come when you are obsessed about the outward image you portray to others, often at the expense of the interior life.
So if you want to join me in the #realliferevolution, post three pics to your instagram in the next week all with the same hashtag. And keep using the same hashtag to describe the beautiful and the incriminating—real moments of intense authenticity on our social facades. Let’s stop pretending that our lives are perfect. We end up shaming each other into believing all sorts of lies about who we are and how we are supposed to be, in a world that is aching for something real.
We have a corporate need as a society for something deeply real, but often lose it in the mad dash to a clever hashtag. When the outward no longer matches the inward for appearances’ sake, there is no happiness, settledness, or contentment—only shame and insecurity. So join us in the #realliferevolution!