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real life

April 8, 2013


I posted this picture just before I dropped a head of perfectly roasted garlic into a sink of soapy water and watched as it fell into the drain. At that point, I did what any rational person would do – I cried.  We were expected at a friend’s house for Easter dinner and the incident set us back 45 minutes.

So my instagram feed showed a pretty picture of the ingredients for broccolini and charred lemon flatbread, while in real life I stood at the sink crying over ruined garlic.

Obviously, Instagram isn’t a running reel of our life. It may look like it is – as if life moves from cute cafe, to peaceful morning walk, to cooking corn tacos with zucchini-radish slaw in some dream world.

But it’s not really like that, is it? Instead social media sites like Instagram showcase small bits of life, curated with the most charming moments. The result is a museum-like presentation of life. Yet, in between those photos are tears, stresses, and really boring things like sitting at the auto-shop waiting for the mechanic to tell you that the car repairs will be $500.

I’m grateful for the small, beautiful moments that get us from one stress to the next, and I believe in celebrating those moments. And let’s be honest – Instagram feeds that show nothing but the stresses of life all the time would be a little depressing!

However, there is a place for acknowledging that real life does happen. Our social media-consuming selves are starving for it. I’ve noticed a renewed focused from some popular online personalities to be a bit more transparent and a little less life-is-perfect-and-colorful-all-the-time (here and here, for example). It helps to know that others have the same human struggles and stresses we do.

A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I were discussing this topic and thinking about what we could do to shatter the myth of an Instagram-curated life. Among the photos of picnics, lattes, and travels, we’re trying to also capture those moments when life didn’t turn out the way we intended. We’re doing it on Instagram and tagging them #reallife.  It’s a fun and small step, but one that makes us more aware of the stories we’re telling the world about ourselves. We’d love it if you would join us!

PS This issue keeps drawing in more discussion. One of my favorite authors just wrote about this very topic here.

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