How much of what we see on social media is real?

I have a bit of a habit of logging into my social media, seeing the wonderful time my friends are having with their children and getting a large pang of mummy guilt. What I post on social media is a real reflection of what I’m actually doing and not a set up situation to make my life appear more interesting, so I’ve always assumed that other people do the same. When I see photos of parents snuggled together with their children reading stories, engaging in fun outdoorsy activities, taking long leisurely walks through vast British landscapes and smiling in beautifully natural photos, which are always tagged #blessed, I’ve always assumed that is a real representation of their life… until recently. How much of what we see on social is real?

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Image courtesy of shutterstock.com/goodmoments

 

We recently took a family road trip from the UK to Denmark, where we spent a few days in Copenhagen. One evening we were strolling back from Copenhagen’s bustling street food market and came across some trampolines alongside the waterfront. The boys were eager to play, so Mr. C took them over to jump around and burn off some of the energy, leaving me to sit back and take in my surroundings.

 

After a while two American women and a young child walked past. On seeing the trampolines they whipped out their iphones and shrieked “Oh Boomerang this”. They then found the perfect angle and started filming a few clips of one of the women jumping on a trampoline with the child. This went on for a couple of minutes before ‘the perfect one’ was filmed and then they both went to sit down on a nearby bench. They then both engaged in conversation, while one uploaded the video to their social media, neither of them returning back to the trampoline to continue playing with the child. We left about fifteen minutes later and they had barely looked at the child during that entire time… aside from the filming of the picture perfect clip of course.

 

On days where I have to run errands and work on the blog, my children are given chalk or a ball and sent into the garden to play. When that fails I throw on Netflix for 45 minutes in the hope it will give me enough time to get everything done. I then click onto social media and see photos and videos of my friends dancing around the garden or chasing bubbles around the living room and feel a pang of mummy guilt as I look up from my laptop screen and wonder if I’m investing in my children as much as I should be, as much as my friends on social media are… but how much of what I’m seeing is real? How many of my friends have jumped around their garden for 30 seconds in order to post content online before returning to the mundane chores or work deadlines that they need to finish?

 

I love social media. I love how it connects me to people hundreds of miles away and opens up topics of conversation long seen as taboo. It helps bring issues to the forefront of conversation and gives people opportunities that would otherwise have been unavailable to them and for that it should be praised. But with all the good that comes with social media, comes the ability to morph our lives into something unrecognisable and broadcast that to people all over the world. I’m aware people exaggerate on social media, we all like to gloss over the rough edges after all, but just how much of our virtual realities actually are non-realities? And among such non – realities, is there really a justified place for mummy guilt?

 

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also follow me on Pinterest.

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25 thoughts on “How much of what we see on social media is real?

  1. When I first started reading about the family filming the trampoline, I thought to myself that while I don’t over focus on making the perfect shot, I do take video and pictures like that but then when you said they practically ignored the child afterwards, that saddens me. When I take pictures of my kids it is of genuine moments, like the ones I have been posting of our day at the Renaissance Fair this past weekend. I’ve taken dozens of pictures of my kid sleeping just because ( I mean I just love when they are asleep and look so sweet and innocent, lol). That makes me think though. Do people really go out of their way to pose for pictures or record videos that don’t actually reflect their lives? I guess that’s another downside to the internet. Social Media doesn’t really reflect who we are? I don’t know. It’s unfortunate though that people aren’t themselves on social media.

  2. I recently heard a really good analogy that social media is basically like the movie trailer – all the best bits cut together with all the crap taken out and I think that sums it up perfectly!

  3. Love this! In this day and age we are all striving for that perfection.
    In the end its total rubbish and really we all have so much more in common and more to relate with if we were all just a bit more real.

  4. I think it is very important to remember that a lot of people want to share the good parts of their day and not the bad. By keeping that in mind comparisons shouldn’t be made – we are all doing our best 🙂

  5. I do love looking at pictures, and what I post is my life…I have never set up a situation just to write about it. I like to post real life events and situations. I think pictures like these are the better ones and more interesting! The set up ones look beautiful, but I realise that this is not real….each to their own. I have posted not so great pictures…like of me after a bad bad day crying, or really happy times. That’s life. I am not a picture perfect person, flaws are what make pictures beautiful I think!

  6. It’s a really good point. So many parents are too busy telling everyone else what a good time they’re having to actually have a good time with their kids! I do get that documenting is important, but I also like to switch off and have proper time with the kids. I do think it’s hard though, especially when you’re with your kids 24/7 and you really need a break. It’s been easier for me since both mine are now at school. I make it a rule to switch off at 3 and not go back online till evening, unless I have a work deadline.

  7. I enjoy looking at photos, whether they’re my own or seeing what my friends are doing. But I don’t worry if I’m too busy enjoying the moment to stop and take a photo for Instagram. For me, social can always wait.

  8. Love this I’m pretty guilty of sometimes snapping a photo of my son playing and then getting back into doing chores. I’ve definitely started to realise not all is what it seems when it comes to social media.

  9. You are not alone! I like to think that what I post is fairly reflective of my actual life but I know hundreds of people trying to make a living on social media that are just so fake and I would take mine any day! It’s ridiculous that we would be made to feel guitly because of it but it’s hard to avoid. Just remember, everyone is trying to meet deadlines and plonks their kids in front of the TV sometimes (otherwise we wouldn never get anything done!)

  10. I don’t think much of what we see on social media is real. I know just how difficult it is to get that perfect shot, so the time spent trying to create that shot is detracting away from the experience itself. It’s hard to balance the two – photography and experiencing.

  11. I post real life on mine although I have cut down on the number of pictures I share over a day now. I used to post an instant picture of whatever we were doing but now I look back over the weekend and post more of those as they get a better engagement. I miss instant bit of instagram these days

  12. My kids would have been on and off that trampoline too quickly for me to capture a boomerang! One going one way and the other another!! Elinor x

  13. Social media is for showing off the very best of ourselves, most of which are staged.
    I have learnt to take everything I see on social media with a pinch of salt because 95.4% of what we see is for display and entertainment.

  14. Everything can be altered now to give off an unrealistic wanting, which is extremly missleading, especially for younger children. I prefer to keep it real and follow those that are too.

  15. I see so many images online and always think other families have perfect lives and are always doing amazing things and I get a pang of mummy guilt. But I do think half of what we see online is just the good bits, I know I am guilty of only posting the nice things we do. How awful about the people you witnessed, that poor child xx

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