I know I’ve mentioned a few times that last year was a hard one for our family although I’ve never gone into details. We spent the majority of the year not in a great place but thankfully, things have settled down now and life is good again. I’m pretty confident saying that right now, I’m pretty happy.
During our troubles last year, someone who knew what we were going through, and who followed me on social media, called me fake. They said that I was lying by not giving the full picture on my blog and social channels, by not talking about our problems and by carrying on as normal.
It’s something that has been playing on my mind and something that I have often spoken to friends about, both online and off. Not just over the last year but regularly since I started blogging. The topic often comes up – where do you draw the line when it comes to what you share online?
The Online Highlights Reel
Anyone with an online presence decides what they are comfortable sharing. It could be your dad with his Twitter account, still with an egg as his profile picture, having a rant at any business that upsets him. It could be your mum with her Facebook account, checking in to everywhere she goes and constantly putting up photos of her friends, the gym and the grandkids.
Or, it could be people like me. Influencers, bloggers and small businesses whose online presence has turned into much more than just a Facebook account to keep in touch with friends. There are many of us who have social media accounts that are either for our personal use, our business use or a blurry mix of both. And we all decide what we’re comfortable with sharing on them.
One thing we all have in common is that we will focus mainly on the good things. Like photo albums of years gone by, we share things that look nice, that make us happy and that we want to remember in years to come. It may be our newly decorated lounge, the new outfit we got for the cat or a new plant in the garden. It could be anything that brings us happiness. And it’s natural to want to share that happiness with others.
In sharing these things, and just focusing on the good, it isn’t lying, it isn’t fake and it isn’t deceiving anyone. It is purely showing the things that we are comfortable with sharing at any time in our lives.
There are often times where we, as influencers, also share the negatives. And I know from my experience that I have shared negatives along the way, often years after they have happened, in case they can help people. If I have had a life experience that I think will resonate with people and that I think may help someone else to come to terms with something that has happened to them, then I’ll share it.
But, there’s a caveat with that. I will share these things in my own time, when I’m ready. And over the years there have been a lot of things like this that I’ve written about. From my issues with my mother, to getting kicked out of home at 17, to being bullied at school and being raped as a teenager. Everything I have written about hasn’t been to document it but to try and help other people going through similar things. And, it’s cathartic to write about things and share them but often only when you’re strong enough to have your story out in the world for everyone to read.
A digital blueprint
And that’s the thing about sharing anything online. It’s there forever, for anyone to see for years to come. Even if you delete things there will be a digital memory of them somewhere or even just a screenshot someone has taken. Things you share online can be accessible indefinitely. Whether it’s a photo, a story, a heat of the moment tweet or a comment on a forum.
So is it any wonder that most people choose to mould their online presence into a highlights reel? Sharing the good things, the things that make them smile, curating a rose tinted version of their life without even really meaning to?
I’ve always shared the highlights of our life. But, as an influencer I don’t just share the big highlights, I share all the little bits too. My Stories are pretty much a run through of our day, each and every day. But, they are still the highlights. They’re the bits I think people will be interested in. But I also share the lows – the sickness, the plans being cancelled, the lockdown blues and a car crash I had a few years ago. It’s not all rose tinted here.
One thing many people don’t consider when they’re criticising the things people share online is privacy and I know many will say that influencers lost their right to privacy when they started posting online. But that’s simply not true. We expect privacy just like anyone else, we just decide where we draw the line.
But, often, the things we share don’t just involve us. They’ll involve our partners, our children, our friends and extended family. And when we share things we need to be mindful that we are adding to their digital blueprint too. Do they mind us sharing it? Will they mind it being online in 5, 10, or 30 years time? Is it really even ours to share?
And that is why I didn’t share the ups and downs last year. It was simply not just my story to tell. It affected a lot of people and it wasn’t something any of us would have wanted online in years to come. Also, whilst living through a turbulent few months I could try and carry on as normal online, use the online world as escapism and just keep the momentum going on social media. That way, whatever happened, at least my job would still be there at the end of it.
So, my life online is a highlights reel. It isn’t massively curated. It’s real and it’s me. But, it features what I’m comfortable with sharing at any one time. It could be the books I’m reading, the dinner I’m making or the sale bargains I’ve brought. And it will often feature Dave and the children. It’s simple and it’s a small window into our lives.
All followers have that window into bloggers’ lives and although that window shows a lot of it, it will never show every aspect of their life, every feeling and experience. But, I for one am happy just having that small window to see whatever those people are prepared to show us.
Life online is a highlights reel and I really don’t think that will ever change – and nor should it.