I am old enough to remember a life before Facebook and Twitter, a life before the internet. I remember taking my film to a 1-day shop to get developed. I remember long phone calls and writing letters. I remember exchanging mix tapes with friends in the mail. I remember that worlds and histories were contained in those letters and phone calls.
And I also remember that, despite the fact that these communications were largely private, none of what I said or sent contained the whole story.
There is so much I don’t say online. Even though I am a huge user of social media, I am an intensely private person. Here’s just a short list of what I don’t share publicly: frustration about tough client work, financial troubles, bad dates (or lack thereof), family illnesses, friends’ celebrations (unless they allow me to), feelings of loneliness or boredom.
I am a real person, and yet I am also someone who has, by choice, a more public face. The public me talks about art and dogs and sewing projects and business. Occasionally, I talk about challenges and setbacks. But you don’t see the complete picture. And I’m largely fine with that.
There has been a lot of talk on the internet lately about the downside of the sanitized picture that social media presents to us. But it is media, and, in the same way we can believe the layouts in a glossy magazine don’t represent the real world, we can choose to accept or reject – or just enjoy – the images social media presents to us. That’s our choice. We don’t need to compare ourselves to those images, those stories. Those behind the images and the blogs and the pins are real people. But they, too, are choosing what they share. Choose what you believe. And choose, unapologetically, to only put as much of yourself out there as you’re comfortable with, too.