It might seem ironic that a truth writer like me – someone who feels passionate about encouraging others to embrace the joy and beauty of truthful living – still struggles with the temptation to put up a less than honest, perfect façade online. That I still find myself wondering, “What’s wrong with picture perfect?” as I scroll through beautiful pictures and lovely moments captured on the tiny screens in my life.
Like many of us, I’m drawn in by the desire to belong to a community where everyone appears to be living the dream, I’m pulled into thinking that I need to post something worthy of a hashtag like #soblessed. #lovemylife. #bestdayever. Or some other version of “#my life is perfect!”
But then I’m reminded of the problems caused by pretending to be perfect.
Perfection isolates us when we need help.
If everyone believes everything in my life is sunny roses and magical rainbows, it’s a much bigger deal for me to ask for help when things go wrong. I find myself locked inside my picture perfect little cage hoping someone might look long enough through the bars to see the real me and the look in my eyes. The sadness. The fatigue. The discouragement. It’s hard to see behind a perfect mask held together with dozens of smiling posts.
Perfection diminishes our effectiveness to help others.
In our darkest times, we don’t need to hear someone singing, “The sun will come out tomorrow. And by the way, I just took this picture of the most beautiful moment I’ve ever experienced. I hope you will ‘like’ it.” We need someone close by, holding our hand, saying, “I don’t know why the bottom drops out of life sometimes. But I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”
Perfection is a poor substitute for beauty.
Beauty empowers and emboldens us by feeding our souls and allowing us to glimpse a higher power than the one who appears to be controlling the traffic we’re stuck in. The pressure to be perfect makes being stuck in traffic worse.
Perfection separates us. Beauty bonds us together.
Now I’m not suggesting that we all start posting our most imperfect moments. Not at all. I love turning to my beautiful Instagram feed for inspiration and encouragement throughout the day. But what I am suggesting is using a different filter. A “truth” filter.
A filter that asks, “Is what I’m posting a real moment of joy, beauty, or delight I want to share? Is my reason for posting so some of my joy might spill over onto others?” If so, share away!
A filter that asks, “Will what I’m posting be an encouragement to others or lift their spirits in some way?” Absolutely? Then share, share, share!
But what if I’m using my tiny screen to cover up the fact that I’m feeling anxious, less than, or bored? Or what if I get that squirmy feeling that causes me to apologize for posting a shot of my life, my activities, my children, etc. “just one more time today”? I want to notice these signals and stop long enough to think about what I’m doing.
Am I adding beauty to the world? Or just more noise?
What might happen if I closed the app for self-promotion and instead used my phone to call someone I care about to say hello and check in?
Someone who might need to hear me say, “I’m coming over! My kids are snotty and fighting. Our pile of dirty clothes is so high it’s blocking the door to the laundry room. And I don’t have any groceries in the house, so I have no idea what’s for dinner. But I hear in your voice that you need a hug. So here we come!”
That’s the kind of truthful beauty this world needs more of. And why we need to push past picture perfect. Are we brave enough to speak (and post) the beautiful truth? I think we are. I think (gulp) I just did. Who would like to go next?