Is social media really a highlight reel?

[This was originally posted on my Music Biz Besties blog in September 2018 →]

Why do we feel like we have to apologize for our successes or keep them to ourselves? (I say “we,” assuming that I’m not the only one who feels this way...)

Everyone says social media is a highlight reel. But is it really? How come when I have a real high (or something serious that’s worthy of sharing), I struggle to share?

I *think* what it comes down to is that we share what we need validation on or what we know will get a quick “like.” But those moments... when I’m really proud of my abs because I’ve been working out and eating healthy for several months - nope can’t share. When I had 3 breast tumors removed and they WEREN’T cancer - nope can’t share. When I hit a financial milestone in my business - nope can’t share. When I’m working 12 hour days because I have a lot of business coming in but am also studying to get my real estate license... and LOVING every minute - nope can’t share.

Why? Because I/we don’t want to feel like we’re “asking” for a like or sympathy when it REALLY matters.

So... here’s a picture of me at Pilates and a boomerang of my messy workout hair (secretly proud of the changes my body is making). A picture of my mom with me in Nashville (because she was here for my surgery I didn’t mention). A picture of my laptop on the kitchen table (bc I’m f*n proud that I run my own business). A picture of our house (because I’m so excited to put the for sale sign back in the yard with MY name on it).

I think another part of this is that in order to keep up online - not even with people, but with algorithms - there are rules. We have to post regularly. We have to share pretty and professional pictures. We have to tell a story. We have to give a call-to-action or ask a question to encourage engagement. We have to use hashtags to grow our audience.

Yes, I understand it’s “social media,” but in a time where online marketing is all about being real, I think it’s actually gotten to a point of pushing people further away from being real and telling the full truth for fear of being judged or talked about in a negative way.

So here I go with some more questions... What if I just want to tell you what’s happening in my life? I literally took a selfie last week to “remember this stage of life.” Wait. Isn’t that the whole purpose of taking pictures? Social media has changed that. And why do I feel like I’m wrong for having success? Because I don’t want people to think I’m bragging. Why can’t I like/comment without getting sold to in return? Why are we so attached to the term “influencer?” Can I not influence others without someone paying me? Why are we trying to show off but also hide at the same time? What’s the point of sharing an “almost” real story? Why do we preach things like “progress over perfection” but only post when life *seems* perfect? 

Guess what!? Life isn’t a perfect or beautifully curated story! You’re not “falling into the comparison trap!” You’re not “comparing your level 1 to someone else’s level 10.” It’s not that either! You’re comparing your REAL LIFE to the half a story attached to a beautiful picture someone else is showing you from THEIR life. And chances are, you’re not at level 1! You’re just different. We can’t all be good at everything!! 

To summarize and go back to my original question (Why do we feel like we have to apologize for our successes or keep them to ourselves?) I’ll say: I want you to know that I don’t think I’m perfect. But I do want to celebrate my wins with you. And I want to celebrate your wins too! Social media and accountability can be so powerful... but only if we tell the whole story.


Katherine Forbes