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Friday, December 27, 2013

What's Out of the Picture

The other day I read a blog post one of my friends put up on Facebook called When Christmas Isn't Perfect by Rachel Marie Martin about the stress and disappointment of not being able to achieve perfection during the holiday season.  I can't stop thinking her blog post and how it can be translated and related to wonderful world of Facebook....

The concept of Facebook is fabulous.

It's a great way to keep up on happenings of friends and family, both near and far.  We get to see intant updates and photos of what is going on right at that very minute.  Facebook is a way to broadcast good news, like new jobs, new cars, new houses, vacations and any other little something that makes us all feel good.  And we all send our congratulations and virtual pats on the back.  Facebook, and by default all social media, can be a fantastic tool for all of us.

Facebook is also an easy way to let friends know when you could use a helping hand.  Sharing pictures is a way to show other's when you may have lost your job, or your car breaks down, your new house gets broken into, vacations go bad or any other little nusance that is part of daily life.  We all give an encouraging word or a job lead or whatever else might be needed when we see the posts of the not so good side of life.  But most of the time that's not what we see on Facebook.



Most of the time we see the happy, shiny side of people on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  And in seeing the happy, shiny side of people all the time, all of the social media out there also can be a way to brew discontent within ourselves.  It can breed envy and jealousy when used incorrectly.

The reality of Facebook can be something else entirely.

Social media only shows us what's in the picture, never what's out of the picture.  On social media people can adopt whatever persona they want.  They can make you believe whatever they want you to believe by the pictures they post.  They show you only what they want you to see.  They hide what they don't want anyone to know about themselves by keeping it just out of the frame of the picture they have posted for all of us to see and oogle over.

I do it.  I'm sure you do too.  I zero in on what I want you to see, obscuring what is messy or making sure what's not quite right is just out of the frame of the picture.  But what I really want my kids to learn and what I really want to teach them is that while social media can be a great tool, you have to be able to see what's not in the picture...

Let's go back to the blog post about When Christmas Isn't Perfect.  All through the Christmas season I sat back and clicked "like" on Facebook over and over and over again on the perfect pictures posted on Facebook.  I put them up. So did you, I saw them all and liked too many to count.

But what you didn't see in my pictures were all of the imperfections.  I showed you the pretty, shiny Christmas trees with the ornaments placed just so.  But what you didn't see sitting just out of the picture were the three boxes of ornaments I was just too tired and lazy to put up.  I showed you pictures of birthday cakes, cupcakes, platters of cookies, but what you didn't see was just out of the picture...a counter full of dirty dishes and more piled in the sink.  I showed you pictures of us standing in front of the Christmas tree, with bright sunny smiles, but what you didn't see was the irritation of one grumpy teenager who was completely over family picture night.  I shared pictures of our house decorated up for the occasion but what was just out of the picture were the scuff marks on the wall where the kids have run dirty hands down the hallway as they've headed to the their rooms.  I showed pictures of myself dressed up and ready to go, but what remained just out of focus were the gray hairs peeking out by my temples or my chipped toenail polish I didn't have the time or the inclination to fix because, well because I said, "Oh, well.  It's not gonna get done this year.  And that's OK."  Because life isn't about being perfect.  It's about being real and relatable and loved.  Life is about family and friends and loving those who touch your life.  Life is about being imperfect.

I want my kiddos to see the imperfections and laugh about them.  I don't want them comparing themselves to some false ideal of "perfection" they see plastered on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.  I want them to see life as it really is, warts and all.  I want them to see what's out of the picture.  And I hope I can show them through example.

Oh, for the love of my children...

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