the fine line.

I’ve noticed a lot of posts popping up on the internet recently discussing how our social media content affects others, and what we should and should not post online. The discussions delve into sensitive topics like intentions, envy, comparison, etc.

But the overall notion remains the same: social media makes some people feel like crap.

Some people are fed up with perfect Instagram streams and over-the-top happy Facebook statuses. They want to see the real life, the whole picture, the messy and unfiltered stuff. After reading some of these articles, and specifically the comments that followed, it seems to me that people tend to fall into two different camps:

1) The people who blame the posters


2) The people who blame the viewers

I’m left to wonder: if someone posts 20 beautiful pictures to Instagram from their amazing vacation, and someone else looks at the pictures and feels jealous, who is at fault? If someone posts 10 beautiful pictures of their smiling baby on Facebook, and a tired momma who is home with a colicky baby looks at them and feels sorry for herself, who is to blame? If someone tweets about their promotion, or the lavish gift their husband gave them, and someone else reads it and feels resentful, who is at fault?

Is anyone at fault, really? Should the person posting pictures and statuses cease to do so in case it upsets someone? Should we follow up our beautiful pictures with ugly ones to even it out? Should we shell out complaints immediately following every joyful Facebook status?

Sometimes when I read articles like these, I feel defensive. And I’m trying to figure out if I feel defensive because I’m guilty of these things, or if I feel defensive because I genuinely believe the message is wrong. Or both.

And for me, I guess it boils down to: what is social media for? What standard are we holding it to, and why?

I’m all for real life. I’m all about getting real and honest and vulnerable and sharing things that are hard to share, both in real-life community and in appropriate online spaces like personal blogs and forums. I get that, I support that, I live that. But Instagram? Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, it’s not a window into our souls. And if my Instagram feed suddenly filled up with pictures of dirty diapers and messy kitchens and screaming babies and bickering spouses, I just don’t think I would like it anymore. I want to see the good stuff, the celebratory stuff, the vacation photos and smiling babies and picture-worthy moments. These photos make me happy. I know that a stream of pretty pictures doesn’t mean the person taking the pictures has a perfect life.

I’m not so disillusioned by social media that I can’t see the difference.

When I scroll through Facebook I don’t want to see a giant collection of complaints and political stances and passive aggressive comments. I want to see links to funny articles and inspiring stories, pictures of friends who live far away, clever and joyous status updates and much-needed birthday reminders.

I don’t want to live in a fake online bubble where people can’t be “real”, but I also don’t want to live in an online place where people are so focused on being “real” that they feel ashamed of being happy.

I struggle with envy and jealousy as much as the next person. I’m jealous of good writing, good photography, good style, good blogs. I compare and occasionally feel badly about myself. It’s an area in my life where I’ve asked God, time and time again, to soften and mold into something more Christ-like. It’s a void I’ve asked Him to fill. But when I get this way, when I spend too much time online and find myself comparing my clothes/blog/house/life to others, I certainly don’t blame anyone else for making me feel this way. I don’t blame the person with the perfect Instagram stream or the person with the happy-go-lucky Facebook page. Why should they be held accountable for my area of weakness?

To throw it the other way, I guess another question to ask is: what is the intention behind the perfect pictures? What is the intention behind the happy status? I know that for me, I like taking pretty pictures. I’m a photographer. There is intention in that, from both a personal and business standpoint. For every 80 pictures I take on my cell phone, maybe one makes it into my Instagram stream. Of course I pick the best one, the prettiest one, the one that will best showcase my photography skills. I order prints from Instagram on a regular basis, and even ordered an Instagram calendar for Brett for Christmas. We use Instagram as a scrapbook of sorts, an online memory-keeper, so of course I post the pictures where we are smiling and happy. I don’t need pictures of Everett throwing a tantrum in my photo albums (well, maybe one to laugh at later).

What is the intention behind the happy Facebook statuses? To brag? To get attention? Or is it simply to share something wonderful with online friends in hopes that people would share that joy with them? Does it depend on the person, or the day, or the circumstance? Are we sitting at our computers judging the intentions of others without really knowing what the true intention is? Is that any better than having a poor or selfish intention to begin with?

I feel like I’m rambling, but I guess all of this is to say: why are we trying to hold social media to the same standard we hold our real life? Is it not impossible to portray your life in its entirety—good and bad—on the internet? And if we know this, if we accept this, then why are we so obsessed with attacking the partial-truths that people share online? If we know that a beautiful instagram stream doesn’t equal a perfect life, then why does it bother us? Is there harm in simply using a photo-sharing app to share and view “pretty” photos? If looking at those pictures makes us feel resentful or jealous, should we maybe take a break from looking at them, and look at our hearts instead? Do we expect people to share an equal amount of good and bad online? Is that the goal here? Are we more inclined, by nature, to keep our heartbreaks more private than our triumphs? If we are sitting at home crying over a terrible day, do we have an obligation to share that with our online world? Why?

I’m asking a lot of questions because I don’t have the answers. At the end of the day I can only be accountable for myself: for what I post online and what I view online, for my intentions and my heart.

And maybe, in its simplest form, there is a fine line to it all, and we just need to find the balance. Maybe there’s a fine line between real and fake, between truth and lies, between humility and pride. Maybe there’s a fine line between jealousy and contentment, resentment and peace, bitterness and good will.

Maybe every day we dance on that line, and need to make more of a conscious effort to step down to one side.

Thoughts? Comments? Let’s chat about it….

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60 Responses to the fine line.

  1. great post ashlee, i generally enjoy what you have to say cos you generally do it really well and interestingly – think you have nailed this one pretty much – we can test our own heart and motivation and then celebrate with those who are sharing their good news and yes to funny stories and inspiring links and less dirty diapers [my friend posted a truly nasty one one day as satirical response to all the nice pictures and wow it was bad – got his point but man, ruined for the day, harr!]

    and just super excited that you ordered me a calendar for Christmas. oh wait…

    keep on, you’re doing great. [altho it shouldn’t matter too much that i think that!]
    brett fish anderson´s last blog post ..Mark, my words: John loses his head

  2. why does your blog keep adding in my last blog post? whoops again, really not intentional!
    brett fish anderson´s last blog post ..Mark, my words: John loses his head

  3. THIS is by far my favorite post on the subject! I’ve been feeling like its bad for me to post beautiful photos or happy updates about my life, but you are so right, so right. It’s the heart behind what your posting that matters. I e been RBI king about writing about it, but you put it so well, I’ll just share your post! Ha!

    • Ashlee says:

      I think it’s especially challenging for us because we love photography and take it seriously. I tend to view instagram as an extension of my photography skills so I probably put more weight on having “pretty” pictures than non-photographers. Thanks for your thoughts, Jennifer!

  4. *I’ve been thinking

    Oops! Posting on the iPhone! Ha!
    Jennifer Blair´s last blog post ..Mike & Jenessa | Downtown Jacksonville FL Wedding

  5. carter says:

    this is an amazing (and not rambling at all, in my opinion!) perspective on this subject. so good, in fact, that i will probably print it out and add it to my “choose: mindsets” minibook for this year. thank you for being so clear and thoughtful in sharing what is on your mind.
    carter´s last blog post ..focus: photography?

  6. Lindsay says:

    Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy”. When you get sucked in to what others have, you think less about what you have….even though we are only seeing the best of what people choose to portray on the internet. I think we all know from experience that people hurt others when they are hurting.
    Just keep doing what you’re doing – your postings and pics make my day a little brighter. 🙂
    PS. Have you read anything by Rob Bell? I saw him speak once and the one big thing I took away from it was ‘be unoffendable’. When I start getting sucked in, I remind myself to “be unoffendable”. It may sound small but it helps more things roll off my back.

  7. Sarabell says:

    A friend and I were just talking about this. She was frustrated with a mutual friend who is always posting happy things and positivity and I asked her if she would prefer a combination of the good and bad or just the bad. In the end, I ended up saying “There is a reason people frame wedding photos instead of funeral photos” and we agreed that it’s up to all of us to focus our time and energy on being thankful and happy about our lives, not being jealous of others’!
    I think I blame the viewer. We all need to realize that the person with a happy photo/status update waits in traffic and gets gum on their favorite shoes too, they’re just wise enough to focus on the happier parts of life in spite of it!
    Sarabell´s last blog post ..Check Out This Place!

    • Ashlee says:

      Interesting. I am always trying to figure out the goal of the people who complain about too much happiness/prettiness on the internet. Do they want to see more negativity so it will make them feel better about themselves? Or just make them feel less alone? I’m honestly trying to understand it better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • Claire says:

        YES! This is so baffling to me. Really, the only time I get frustrated with the idea of someone being “too perfect” is only ever because I am in a bad spot or feeling insecure. Otherwise, I just don’t see why I should be bothered by someone else’s happiness. I am also not at all bothered by the “sad” posts – the “Oh my gosh, what an awful day I am having!” or “Everyone’s sick, I’m sick, we are sick of this!”type posts. People have crappy days, Facebook is a pretty good place to vent because there is always at least one person willing to say, “Hang in there, tomorrow will be better.”

        Now, vague status updates are of the devil and I hate them. There is no good reason, ever, ever, ever to post a vague status update. “I can’t trust anyone.” “Sometimes, I wonder why I even try.” Seriously, either share or don’t say anything at all.
        Claire´s last blog post ..I ♥ Sacramento {Sky Drifters Ballooning}

        • Sarabell says:

          Oh jeez, I agree like crazy! If someone is upset, fair enough… but it’s the posts that are so cryptic and just begging for attention comments that drive me nuts. Especially when the person is clearly just trying to get one certain person to respond and is a bit vague with everyone BUT that other person. Just call them on the phone, goober!
          Sarabell´s last blog post ..Farr Better Ice Cream

  8. Malisa says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. My personal favorite point you made was this, “I’m not so disillusioned by social media that I can’t see the difference.”

    Why would I want to see all the bad parts of life? I have my own struggles and drama. I don’t need to know how many dirty dishes, diapers, or whatever needed to be cleaned. I have my own house to run.

    I personally have been guilty of being jealous and hurt about pictures I’ve CHOSEN to look at on people’s blogs, instagrams, and facebook pages. But that is my own insecurity and fault. I have decided to share my life online, but it is edited from my daily life. I don’t know who all reads what I say, so I am guarded. I think it’s in a healthy, wise person doesn’t share all, sense.

    Seriously, Ashlee. Thank you for writing this post and for all of the questions you posed. At the end of the day, I am accountable for what I post and what I view. And my responses to it.
    Malisa´s last blog post ..Five Minute Friday: After

    • Ashlee says:

      Thanks Malisa. You’re right: we CHOOSE what we look at online. Nobody forces us to sit on Facebook and check Instagram multiple times a day. We are responsible for being our own gatekeepers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. Elle B says:

    I adore this post. It puts into words exactly how I feel about the subject, and like you I have read many posts from many bloggers about the subject. I certainly feel this way sometimes – envious and jealous of some of what my friends posted on Facebook – and when I really sit down to assess why I feel the way I did, it always come down to me, not the poster.

    As for Instagram, it is so hard to post “real” pictures because when I have a fight with my husband I don’t reach for the phone to take a picture of the moment so that I can keep my instagram feed more real. however, when my kids do something awesome or just plain cute, I do reach for the phone and snap a pic, and sometimes, that pic does make it instagram. I have been accused of posting too many “happy” pictures on my instagram feed, but it is by nature how I take pictures or capture moments and not so much about what my intentions are in the posts.

    Maybe there is a fine line, but at the end of the day, I think that fine line resides within us.

    • Ashlee says:

      Totally…..I can’t say that I’ve ever felt compelled during an argument with Brett to grab my phone and take a picture of us fighting. Can you imagine? “Hold on babe, I really want to Instagram this argument so we can capture our real-life marriage!” Haha.

  10. Paulette Hawes says:

    I personally like to see happy photos – funny things children do, vacation pics, sunsets, etc. Now that I am nearing mid-50’s I am realizing just how short live is. I do not want to focus on the negatives. There are places that I would love to travel to and may not have the opportunity to do so. I so loved seeing your pictures from Greece and could imagine myself there. So keep posting the positives and joyous moments you have in your life. I believe the majority of people want to see and be inspired by joyous moments. The people who have a problem with that and are jealous or bitter, are causing the problem themselves. They probably have a negative type personality and only they can change themselves, and have to want to make that change.

    • Ashlee says:

      I do think that some people are just more naturally happy and optimistic than others, and that personality disposition probably comes through in social media platforms. I don’t think ALL people who experience jealousy or bitterness are negative people in general, but that could definitely play a part in it!

  11. Sheela says:

    AGREED. Specifically, this section below just totally nails my personal feelings as well:

    “I’m not so disillusioned by social media that I can’t see the difference.

    When I scroll through Facebook I don’t want to see a giant collection of complaints and political stances and passive aggressive comments. I want to see links to funny articles and inspiring stories, pictures of friends who live far away, clever and joyous status updates and much-needed birthday reminders.

    I don’t want to live in a fake online bubble where people can’t be “real”, but I also don’t want to live in an online place where people are so focused on being “real” that they feel ashamed of being happy.”

    Excellent post – and much needed. Thank you!

  12. Another great post. Good to examine our own hearts and intentions behind what we post and why we react to other’s social posts in certain ways. I’m along the lines of loving to hear and see beautiful things and I’m also OK with people posting about a bad day every and then. The ones that I need to step away from/hide/unfollow are the ones who are critical or mean towards others on social. There’s no need for that. 🙂
    Katherine Michael´s last blog post ..Lovely Links

  13. Angeline says:

    What a huge topic, and I love that you give each aspect ample consideration…the most well-balanced post on this I’ve read.

    This is where I always get stuck: Should we feel obligated to give “full” views of our lives online? Why would I give people I once knew (a lot of Facebook) and people I don’t really know at all (a lot of Twitter, Instagram) a full and comprehensive view of my life?

    The other thing that frustrates me is…why can’t people let other people keep private things private?

    I assume (and expect) that people will only offer small glimpses on social media…that’s what it’s for, right? If I really want to get to know someone, I will connect with them personally.
    Angeline´s last blog post ..The Law of Inertia, or how productivity begets productiveness

    • Ashlee says:

      You summed up my entire post in this short comment. And maybe said it better than I did – “This is where I always get stuck: Should we feel obligated to give “full” views of our lives online? Why would I give people I once knew (a lot of Facebook) and people I don’t really know at all (a lot of Twitter, Instagram) a full and comprehensive view of my life?” EXACTLY.

  14. Awesome post! I absolutely agree with most everything you said. My main response is much more succinct when people complain about how other people use social media. I’ve always believed that “Social media is what you make of it.” And it really is.

    If you want to see poopy diapers, messy sinks, and unwashed hair photos then follow people who post it (trust me, they’re out there). If you want to see political debates, trolling, and opinionated posts, then follow the people that do those things! And guess what, if you **DON’T** want to see something, there’s a fancy little button that says “unfollow” (or similar) on **EVERY** social media service. Nobody’s forcing you to take in content you don’t want in your social media timeline, so don’t partake in the things you don’t like. It really is that simple.

    Thanks for posting such great examples and reminding everyone that it’s up to us what we let influence our own lives. Not the people posting the content.

    • Ashlee says:

      Hey Steven, you’re absolutely right. We control what we look at online, we have the ability to unfollow/unfriend those who post content that brings out demons in us. We have a responsibility to ourselves to be good stewards of our time, and good gatekeepers of our online content.

  15. Jacki says:

    So much to say here – but you’ve said so much of it already – phew 🙂

    “I know that a stream of pretty pictures doesn’t mean the person taking the pictures has a perfect life.”

    Yes. And I would suggest that if someone can’t view a stream of pretty Instagram photos without getting upset, they may need to re-evaluate their relationship with social media.

    “I don’t want to live in a fake online bubble where people can’t be “real”, but I also don’t want to live in an online place where people are so focused on being “real” that they feel ashamed of being happy.”

    YES again! Personally, if my social media feeds turned into a constant keepin’-it-real whinefest, I’d have to re-evaluate *my* relationship with social media, because like you – I want to see and celebrate the joys, the funny, the good, as well as offering support and love in moments of hurt and struggle when my friends decide to share that. There was a good piece at about this earlier in the week too, and I’m glad people are talking about it!
    Jacki´s last blog post ..Five Minute Friday: After

  16. I think that there is fine line with sharing and the social media. Do I share when my kids are fighting ? No because everyone has that in their life. I don’t think we need to share everything that is happening in our lives.

    yes with social media and the negativity that I sometimes feel …there are times when I just don’t do it. I know the effects in my life and I can see what happens with my kids.

    Life isn’t perfect but we don’t need to SEE everything
    Julie@my5monkeys´s last blog post ..Cover Lusting #6 & Spring Break Pics

  17. Lesley says:

    So many great questions! (And lots of interesting, insightful comments, too.) I agree with another commenter- it’s certainly easier to be jealous or discontent with your own life when you’re going through a tough time. The mother who just had a miscarriage is going to feel sad about every baby related post she sees on Facebook and that’s nobody’s fault– it just is what it is-human nature. When Jonathan was sick, there were many posts that made me feel really crappy, and I had to stop looking! ( I took Facebook off my phone and it’s never been back.) I agree, it’s up to ME, the viewer, to examine my own heart first.

    But, all that being said, anyone who creates online content must accept responsibility for what they post, not just for how it affects others but also to better understand our own hearts. We need to consider our motives before we share. I am going to confess something a little ugly about myself. Sometimes I like posting to Instagram because I feel really proud/happy/secure by all the positive comments and attention I receive after posting. I hate this about myself. Before I post things I try to ask, “Is my intention right now to save a memory? To make someone laugh? To brighten another mom’s day?” Or, are my intentions to show off the latest sensory box I created so that everyone will think I’m a fantastic mom? Only I know my intentions, and I think if all of us post with pure intentions we can help each other to not be as jealous or sad.

    I guess the biggest thing is to keep having conversation–just like you’re doing here. Social media is so new that as a society we’re still learning how it impacts all of us. The reality is, sites like Instagram and Facebook naturally show the good parts of our life more so than the difficult. I think this is a little bit scary only because so much of us spend an insane amount of time on these mediums!

    I guess the long answer short (because this is probably my longest comment EVER) is: I think it’s impossible, dumb and unrealistic to try and show all the crappy parts of our lives to the online world. But, I do think we could all stand to give our posting habits a second thought. (I know I could!) Like you said- there’s a balance that needs to happen, and the balance starts in our own hearts first.
    Lesley´s last blog post ..Gluten free everything, more letters to baby, and an adorable nursery

    • Brett says:

      I agree with you here and I also want to point out that social media can be used to pour love on somebody who is going through a difficult time. I would still give anything to witness Jonathan going through the Facebook photos last year. That, to this day, is one of the coolest “rough moments flipped upside down” I’ve ever gotten to be a part of.

    • Ashlee says:

      I agree with every word of this, and am just as guilty as looking to social media to give me a little pick-me-up & validation, when really I should be looking to God to help me with those things and to make me feel secure in myself. I probably should have focused more on that aspect in this post, but it was getting really long 😉

      I think ultimately, there is responsibility in the hands of both the content creator and the viewer. As content creators, it’s our responsibility to be true, authentic, sensitive, and to post with pure intentions and motives. As viewers, it’s our responsibility to first and foremost, guard ourselves against content that brings out the worst in us, and secondly, to look inward at our own weaknesses and not blame others for them. I also think it’s the viewer’s responsibility to not hold content creators to the same standard of a real-life friend. Some people are simply not comfortable being vulnerable online with their heartbreaks and struggles, and we can’t expect them to change for us simply because it makes us feel better about ourselves. While I think it’s perfectly okay to approach a real-life friend about a lack of vulnerability, I don’t think we can approach strangers on the internet in the same way. The standard I hold my real-life friends to is not the same standard I hold my instragram friends to, if that makes sense.

    • Becca says:

      Lesley, I’ve also been thinking about the satisfaction I receive when someone likes my instas… and I didn’t like how much I liked it, so I turned off the notifications!
      Becca´s last blog post ..InstaMarch

  18. Claire says:

    I have so much to say about this! Well, everything I have lots to say on, but especially this! Actually, you said all that needs to be said. For once in my life I’ll clam up! 😉
    Claire´s last blog post ..I ♥ Sacramento {Sky Drifters Ballooning}

  19. Smallgood says:

    “When I scroll through Facebook I don’t want to see a giant collection of complaints and political stances and passive aggressive comments. I want to see links to funny articles and inspiring stories, pictures of friends who live far away, clever and joyous status updates and much-needed birthday reminders.”

    This is me. All day.

    I feel like I have to keep some people at arm’s length with social media (especially Facebook) because they post so much vitriol. To me, FB is not the platform where I want to have my political views converted or my college slammed. I want to see that people are enjoying joyous days (marriages, babies, etc) and also see a support network for more difficult times (family loss).
    Smallgood´s last blog post ..On my map: Folger Shakespeare Library

  20. Faith says:

    These are such insightful thoughts, Ashlee! I don’t have much to add, but I definitely appreciate photographers and bloggers who post such beautiful work. You are right; if I am not trying to compare myself to an artist, then I can allow myself to be encouraged and inspired by their work and by their stories!
    Faith´s last blog post ..Starved Rock

  21. Erica K. says:

    A-mzing post Ash! I think this post can go hand in hand with your prior, “Dear Mom on the iPhone.” Why? Fact of the matter is this, we don’t know exactly what people are going through from the outside looking in. So maybe a person who is annoyed with baby photos congesting their news feed is struggling trying to get pregnant…..? Maybe the person who is tired of seeing phenomenal vacation/travel pics can’t afford to go on a holiday because of financial hardship…..? We never know the whole story, we only get a glimpse into what the “User” lets us see.

    Like you, I love seeing the more real aspect of people’s lives. For example, I like seeing new mom pics on FB where the moms are perfect, pristine and glowing weeks after giving birth. Way to go studettes!! Buuutttt, I also wanna see hair pulling, silly faces, and “OMG I’m running on 2 hrs of sleep” looks. On my own Facebook I share ridiculous statuses about my life in Ukraine and how I see mafia bosses or have nothing to buy but chicken feet after a bad storm. Is that cool? No it can suck, but that’s real life and that’s the way it is.

    At the root of all social media there is a desire to share “Look what I’m doing/eating/where I am.” It can be a platform to show off in a way, like you said, or it can chronicle your life and meaningful events and be used as a super neat tool.

    And…. if we aren’t into it, there is always the UNFOLLOW button 😉

    Erica K.´s last blog post ..Our New Home: Kiev, Part 3

  22. Josie says:

    Fascinating post, wish I had the energy to write a thoughtful answer. You’ve raised interesting points on this I hadn’t even considered and I’ve thought and blogged quite a lot along these lines lately. Thanks for this.
    Josie´s last blog post ..Motherhood & time (and perfection and guilt)

  23. Josie says:

    Just had one thought on this, you got me thinking! I think we’re responsible for what we feel when we engage on social media sites (as long as others aren’t been racially abusive etc). So if you look at ‘perfect’ instagrammers and feel envious, you have to own that feeling and then decide whether it bothers you enough to stop following that person. Others can show what they like of their life. If I don’t like it I don’t have to look/read it. Personally, I like a balance of happiness and realism both in what I write/present of my life and what I seek from others. That and time offline away from it all to connect to the ‘real world’.
    Josie´s last blog post ..Motherhood & time (and perfection and guilt)

  24. suzy says:

    PERFECTLY said. I have been so guilty of dissing girls with “perfect lives” and judging their motives for posting their shiny happy pictures and using too many exclamation marks. But it’s a heart issue. It’s a MY heart issue. I’m working hard on learning how to rejoice with those who rejoice instead of reacting in jealousy. Social media is as good a place as any to practise that.

    …But, I mean, I still think some people use too many exclamation marks. You know?
    suzy´s last blog post ..{the danks}

  25. I agree wholeheartedly. I especially loved the sentiment that “Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, it’s not a window into our souls”. I get so tired of hearing people rant about the too-perfect persona often projected there, but you have to be extremely out of touch with reality to think that anyone leads a perfect life. I’m a SAHM and see myself with no makeup in frumpy sweats more often than not, so when I get to look nice and dress up, THAT’S what I’m going to share. I don’t need a picture of not-showered yoga pants me…I see her almost every day!

  26. Bekah says:

    This is so delightfully written!! This has been a topic of conversation with friends for awhile now. For myself, I suffer from “open book syndrome” so I don’t mind telling someone who is having a bad day that I’ve been there too. However, my kids are getting old enough that telling everyone on facebook about an attitude or dilemma we had is embarrassing and some things need to be kept sacred. So I might post a lot of chipperness but as for really frusterating moments with my munchkins, I’ll keep to my “circle ” that knows my kids and their hearts.

  27. Diana says:

    I think it takes a lot of courage to be happy on social media today. It’s easy to fall in the rude and snarky comments like the rest of the Internet. Instagram is my happy place and I like my feeds like that as well. It takes courage to share joy and this was courageous to share.

  28. Christine says:

    This is awesome. I’ve been wanting to write a post about this for so long but haven’t been able to put it into the right words. You hit the nail on the head. I’ve always been bothered by posts that “blame” the poster of “pretty” images for making others feel badly about their lives. Really? Can anyone really make you feel badly about your own life? We are all responsible for our own hearts and intentions and what we look at or don’t look at online. If someone’s posts or photos are bothering you, then stop following them. Period. I’m no professional photographer, but I do like using Instagram to develop my creativity and it makes me happy to look for beauty in my day.

    Thank you again for writing this!

  29. Josh says:

    Ashlee, i would write a longer thank you reply to you for writing this than to the president, but i’ll just say, thank you so much. summed up everything i wanted to say in response to a particular post about instagramming/social media. appreciate it so much!

  30. Christine says:

    Yes yes yes. It’s a VERY fine line between bragging and humble bragging and sharing what you’ve done, but I much prefer to see that than people complaining about their jobs or their significant others or their lives on social media. Choose joy, choose to see the beauty in the little things and the big things. I feel like people expect me to live this fabulous life full of travel and beaches, but I also try to share the little details that make me happy: fresh flowers, graffiti art, clouds in the sky. None of that is something that every person can’t have: you just have to open your eyes to it. Lovely post, Ashlee.
    Christine´s last blog post ..Happy Friday: a Kiwi Collection giveaway!

  31. Becca says:

    We were talking about this at MOPS on Friday and a wise woman at my table pointed out that someone else’s happiness doesn’t limit our own. An instagrammed photo of flowers from a friend’s husband in no way encroaches on my own relationship. If I noticed myself feeling jealous, I can ask God for contentment OR to show me how to feel more satisfaction in my relationship, mothering, home, etc. How we react to social media really is a mirror to our own hearts. Great post!
    Becca´s last blog post ..InstaMarch

  32. Karen says:

    So true. Head nodding….I think blogs that are all cupcakes and daffodils are fine, but yes, I like realism and so that’s what I look for in my blogs? Make it work for you! I really disagree with negative comments, especially when they start with, just some constructive criticism…..not here please!!!
    Blogging is a joy for me, and I will do it, until that changes…
    Love your post xo
    Karen´s last blog post ..So it’s Saturday

  33. Great and thought-provoking post, I totally agree! I understand that the internet world is not necessarily the real world. It’s much more fun to focus on the positive and entertaining aspects of life… I don’t really feel any benefit from reading about every time a person has a chest cold or constipation or gets stuck in traffic.

    But I do think there’s a fine line between simply sharing positive aspects of your life and putting on a facade. I feel like some people portray themselves as something completely different online than they do in real life. For example, I have a facebook friend (girl I know from high school) who ALWAYS posts “positivity” posts and quotes about how she’s just THE most positive person in the universe and so happy and drama-free, etc. But in real life… she’s incredibly negative and drama-seeking.

    I guess the lesson learned is just to take what any person says online with a grain of salt and not try to compare yourself to others online, because there’s a lot going on behind the screen that you don’t know about.
    Kaleena’s Kaleidoscope´s last blog post ..12 little ways life is different in Korea

  34. Pingback: The Truth of the Matter | With Faith & Grace

  35. Sara Porter says:

    I just love your view on life. Practical. Real. Vulnerable.

  36. Ashley A. says:

    First and foremost: YES. A resounding yes with a standing ovation at the end, followed by screams of ENCORE!

    I was talking about this to a friend and I may or may not have written a post about it this week, funny how so many people are thinking and talking about the same thing. Anyway, one of my main points was that when we’re browsing Facebook/Instastalk/whateversocialnetworkingthing, the vast majority of us are bored. We’re sitting on the computer wasting time and that’s part of what makes these things so great, it’s an easy way to do that, but if you’re not happy or if you’re bored and you’re looking at your friends awesome amazing party pictures or the girl who had a blast at Bonnaroo or the couple that just got engaged, of course you’ll feel down in the dumps because you’re comparing how they are in that picture to how you’re feeling in that moment.

    It’s a terrible road to skip down and until we realize how important it is to unplug ourselves we might just trip and fall into a slight depression.
    Ashley A.´s last blog post ..Life comes at you fast

  37. I like to see pretty pictures, but I like to see “real life” too! I think you post a perfect blend of this on your blog. I think it’s funny to hear stories about dirty diapers, and it makes me feel less alone when I read stories about failed friendships, but I also enjoy perfectly curated photos of well-decorated homes and mouth-watering recipes. I try to keep a balance on my own blog as well, because my purpose is to inspire and motivate other women, and my personal stories of triumph and tribulation help cultivate that.
    Stephanie Loudmouth´s last blog post ..Loudstagram :: Week(s) in Review + How to Turn a Boring Life into Interesting Instagrams

  38. Molly says:

    This is a great post. I think we’re all in a middle state of being both guilty of contributing to the “problem” and being affected by it. This happened to me just the other day where I caught myself admiring the Instagram feed of a girl I went to high school with, wondering if she was further ahead in her life than I was. However, I knew these insecurities were my own and never for a moment blamed her for sharing the cute pictures of her children or their newly-built home. Did I wish I could afford a Starbucks latte as often as she seemed to be able to? Did I wish my kitchen backsplash was as shiny and new as hers? Or that I was able to fully furnish my children’s rooms from the Pottery Barn Kids catalog? Yes yes and yes. But I wouldn’t expect her or anybody else to hide the parts of their lives they were proud of. Just yesterday, I shared a photo of my smiling baby girl at the beach and chose not to share photos of our cooler breaking on the way back to the car, of her eating sand, of her screaming and squirming while I tried to change her into dry clothes in the backseat of the car.

    The bottom line here is that all this hoopla over social media deception isn’t a secret. Everyone who participates is aware that it’s not 100% real 100% of the time. Some viewers are more susceptible than others to comparisons, etc and therefore it’s up to the viewer to moderate their own experience. If they feel bad about themselves when they look at someone’s feed, it’s not the posters responsibility to stop sharing the happy moments in their life. It’s the viewers responsibility to stop scanning that feed. To log off, take a break, and remind themselves that what they’re seeing is subjective.

  39. Molly says:

    I also wanted to add that I’m a huge fan of your Insta feed (I actually just commented the other day about Insta-stalking you during nap time lol). Your photos are beautiful and poised and they inspire me to capture my family moments in a more beautiful, creative way. I hope you never change the tone of your feed!

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