**This maybe not, with the freeway overpass in the background***
Social Media makes my life better and worse, opens up the world and closes it off into idealized windows, connects me to amazing people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and occasionally makes me resent those who seem to have something I don’t.
I’ve been writing this post for years in my head. It started as a rant after seeing picture after picture of a girls trip I hadn’t been invited on.
For the love of everything people if you go out to lunch, go on a trip with your friends, anything where you didn’t invite absolutely everyone who might feel left out stop posting pictures of it for the world to see! What purpose does it serve except to make yourself feel cool? oh – you want to make sure it’s included in your chatbooks?? Get a separate account, that no one follows. Even if no one likes your picture it will still get printed in your precious books and sent to your house.
The hurt and anger were real, and unfounded, and slightly ridiculous. Over the years I’ve matured a little bit from this perspective, I think… I hope – we all like to think we are on a better path right?
The message that pinterest and instagram images of immaculate, beautiful homes, extravagent crafts etc are just a moment in time, not the whole picture has been widely talked about. “Don’t compare your whole life to these moments,” they say.
It’s the same for a picture of a group of people that may have gotten together without you. It’s just a moment not the whole picture.
Often I blame other people when I’m hurt when as always there is always a choice, and it’s only myself I can change.
It’s simply not feasible to invite everyone to everything.
Every Christmas we like to make graham cracker gingerbread houses. One year I invited a few families to join us. In the middle of the festivities, a friend from a different family knocked on the door looking for someone to play with. We told him to go home and get his family and to come join in, but they were a last minute addition and I felt terrible I might have made anyone feel left out or unwanted.
The next year, I invited everyone in the neighborhood – and it was pure madness. I covered my furniture in sheets to try and avoid getting frosting and candy everywhere, I didn’t get to chat with anyone, and my house was completely destroyed.
The next year, we did it smaller again. This time, I forbid anyone to get the door and I told those invited to keep it quiet.
I didn’t necessarily like the ones I invited more than anyone else. They were just the ones that best fit the activity, that I hadn’t seen in awhile, or that had kids my kids got along with.
Not everyone to everything – If I’m not invited it’s not a reflection of how anyone feels about me.
The snapshot that you see is not a complete picture of reality.
All summer I have been scrolling through instagram posts of a local river/waterfall hike (Little Jaimica). The photos showed families and friends laughing and splashing in a beautiful natural pool with a waterfall cascading down on their heads. It looked like a perfect, free, beat the heat activity, so one afternoon I set out with my sister and my parents to find it.
We arrived to find a pungent smell and piles of garbage all along the short trail to the waterfall.
Then, we found, a waterfall… with no way down to the idyllic pool, except to climb directly down the slippery face with a pregnant lady, two adults who had just had surgery, a baby, and six other children. It was exciting and memorable, and only a few tears were shed.
When we finally reached the bottom we found a water snake which sent two of the girls screaming in terror and it was soon obvious that there were at least a couple of homeless people living near this beautiful natural spring, tucked directly under the graffiti covered freeway overpass. One especially delightful message read “John died here”, inciting speculation among the older kids on what exactly that meant and if they were going to stumble upon something gruesome.
Despite all of that we had a blast. The water was clear and cool, there were lots of places to explore and an abundance of beer bottle caps to collect. Anna has been begging to go back every day since…. Which is not going to happen.
**This yes, even though this sweet girl cried if her body actually got in the pool**
***This one maybe not – with the pile of trash in the background***
The reality was better and worse than the snapshot – it was real.
True friendships are real and reality is messy and complicated, the bad and the good all jumbled together into a crazy multi-dimensial picture.
Social Media gives us a snapshot.
Now when I scroll through my feeds and I stumble on a gathering that I was excluded from:
1.)I take a breath and identify the jealousy, because that’s what it is – down at its core – and then I compliment the poster.
Wow that looks like a fantastic group of girls at lunch.
What a great idea for a group date.
You ladies are always so creative.
(Sometimes I’m cheesy, but I aim for sincerity. Writing the words usually inspires the feeling)
It’s empowering. It makes me feel real, free, and grateful for the people in my life.
2.) I remember that I can’t see the whole picture and what they do most likely has absolutely nothing to do with how they feel about me. Just because they went to lunch, doesn’t mean they do it every day, most likely they are cooking and cleaning and working and doing the joyful mundane 90% of the time, just like me. (and in reality the lunch might have been miserable – you never know, the whole story isn’t as easily captured)
3.) I evaluate whether I would have really wanted to go. Sometimes it’s something I might not have enjoyed anyway, if that’s the case, thinking about it any further is pointless.
4.) And then, if it happens over and over. I stop following the person – because sometimes oblivion brings the greatest happiness.
I can’t invite myself to gatherings, but I can invite others to my own. I can notice who else might have been excluded and reach out to them.
Mostly I do my best to not do it to others.
I enjoy the snapshots and look for the reality; compliment the good and put it in perspective. After all, with the terror, heartbreak, fear, and hate that’s been constantly in the news over the summer sometimes it’s a relief to only look at carefully curated glimpses of life.