So now I’ve talked myself into a corner. Because I stand by my principles about privacy and politeness. I think these fake-y confessions are kind of silly (even as some of these categories hit way too close to home!). But I don’t want to be overly sanctimonious on this topic, either, because (hello!) I’m walking these fine lines every day on social media, on blogs, and in my own relationships. I do think it’s possible to avoid the categories of Falsely Authentic, Deceptively Perfect, and Totally Inappropriate. I see people get it right all the time, and I’m thankful for their example.
I am still learning here, and I am all too aware of the times I’ve fallen off either side of the path. I present a carefully curated perfect image of myself to the world, or I present a carefully curated imperfect image of myself to the world; in both ways I am disguising my true self.
But I think a few guiding principles may be helpful:
1. Consider the context. Public forums are hardly ever the place for real confessions. It’s just not the whole world’s business to know about your marital problems, your kids’ struggles, or your deep besetting sins. These are great things to talk about face-to-face with a friend, in emails and private messages, or with a therapist.
REMEMBER THIS when you’re tempted to think that everyone online has an easier life than you. Pretend that Facebook is a cocktail party where everyone is using their good manners. (Maybe if enough of us start pretending, it will come true.) Enjoy reading blogs (including this one) and keeping up with friends, but take everything with a grain of salt, knowing that a certain amount of calculation and censorship has gone into every post, no matter how personal, and that is okay. If you want to know someone with no filter, go hang out at their house when their kids are tired.
2. Be authentic. In other words, say what you mean. Do you want to brag that you just made 247 freezer meals? Go for it. Do you want to be reminded that you’re not the only person buying boxed Valentines or enjoying a TV sensation? Poll your friends But sometimes, when you take the fake-y confession part out of it, you’re left with a status or a statement that is not actually very interesting. (“I am wearing yoga pants.”) This can be a cue that maybe you should just let the moment pass without further ado. (Or if you just need to be heard, you can call your mom.)
3. Check your heart. Ask yourself, Why am I sharing this? Is it to be validated or praised? Are you lonely? Are you making light of something that you actually need to change? If the answer is yes, you may need more than just a public confession to solve your bigger problem.
4. Consider your audience. Who will hear or read what you’re about to say? Will your words inform, edify, or amuse someone else? Or are you just “talking to hear your head rattle”, as my mom used to say? Being thoughtful and measured in your speech and especially in your public written words is not being inauthentic, it’s being wise.
Okay– That’s all I have on this topic. Feel free to post a comment if you have anything to add!
(This is all I my words ON THIS TOPIC but not all my words for the week; I already had a post written for tomorrow. But I promise that it is totally insubstantial!)