The other side of the curtain

I know we’ve all heard it said before – “don’t compare yourselves to others on social media because they’re only showing us their highlight reel” or something along those lines, but for someone like myself who takes everyone at face value, I tend to believe what my friends are posting. I am just naive enough that if you tell me something, I’m going to assume it’s the truth (unless I know for a fact you’re a pathological liar, then I’m going to be skeptical of every word out of your mouth.)

I have a friend, we’ll call her “A” (because I am creative and original that way), who loves to post her every move on social media. She not only posts about her life all day long (“it’s a beautiful morning!” to “whew, long day – going to bed!”) but she also loves to repost memes and tag her kids or her friends or more frequently, her husband. If anyone wants to see a devoted love – just go check out A’s Facebook page. The world has not known such a love since Romeo & Juliet, Antony & Cleopatra, Noah & Allie, Kermit & Miss Piggy…you get the idea. According to her posts, no one would have any reason to doubt the validity of her relationship with her husband. I have often thought, while scrolling through her posts on my news feed, “wow, they really are totally in love. That’s nice.”

Can you guess what’s going to happen next? Hold on…this is a shocker!! (not really)

It was brought to my attention last week – from the mouth of A herself – that she and her husband were not, in fact, doing so well at all. I was honestly surprised (see: naive, above) to hear that they’ve been having problems for a few years now and things are coming to a head. He travels a lot for work, she got lonely…you can see where this is going. She admits she screwed up more than once – I guess all those lovey-dovey posts were trying to convince her husband (and maybe herself) that everything was okay.  Things are not looking good for them. Her kids are so angry with her. Lots of her friends have stopped speaking to her. Her whole social media presence was the total opposite of how her life really looks. Behind closed doors, her life is a mess.


On the flipside of that, I have another friend, let’s call her “Z” (where do I come up with these genius pseudonyms???), who lost her husband last year. Her social media posts tend to highlight how much she misses her husband – she posts pictures of him and scripture that he loved, she shares memories of him…the kinds of things you would expect a grieving widow to share. I met up with her for lunch last week and expected our get-together to consist of her pouring her out about her husband and me trying to console her. Turns out though, she is actually doing really well. She was happy and light-hearted (she did get a little misty a couple of times when we talked about him) but she is moving forward with her life and making plans and is excited for the future. She is a realist and understands that while he was the love of her life, he is gone now and her life must go on with out him. She is going to do some exciting things this next year and I am so proud of how she has come through this. Based on her social media alone, she is much more at peace than I realized.

So, it really is true – you can’t judge a Facebook by its cover photo.

After all this, I will be much more likely to reach out when someone seems a bit too #blessed or when they seem to be down. Because talking face to face is the best way to get to the truth of someone, wouldn’t you agree?


13 thoughts on “The other side of the curtain

  1. Social media is a dangerous place now (maybe it always was, but I think people have gotten meaner with every passing year.) If you’re happy and you post about that, people will attack you for it and try to “bring you down a peg” if they feel you’re not acting the way you are expected to. If you are miserable and you post about it, people will tell you to be grateful, that God has a plan and never gives anyone more than they can handle, and besides – someone else always has it worse, so why are you complaining?

    A sounds pretty darn miserable. Z sounds like maybe she doesn’t want to be told she’s processing things wrong with her grief and growth (or maybe only logs in and is reflective of when she does so? But I wonder more about it being my first guess, as I have had a few friends who have lost their spouse and whenever they post something happy, they have to defend their post with something like “I miss John, and I’ll always love him, but it’s OK to go out and have fun too.”)

    People are not very honest online anymore. I know I barely post anything about what’s really going on in my life. 1) No one cares, not really 2) They’ll attack one way or another, so it’s not worth it. So, only super close friends and family get any real details… but then, that’s how it used to be before this online thing. You used to have to call, on the wall phone with the 20 mile long phone cord and fill in that person you knew cared and who mattered so much to you that you could dial their number in the dark! 🙂

    1. Actually that has not been my experience at all. I’ve never had anyone attack me for posting happy things, and on those rare occasions I post about feeling bad about something, I typically get very encouraging responses. However, having said that, I did go through a couple of years ago and whittle down my list of people who see what I post, so maybe I’ve just curated a list of supporters!

      I do believe that A is miserable – I think she wanted everyone to think her life was great when in reality things were falling apart. Z could honestly care less what other people think – she does not post a lot, but when she does, it is from a place of reflection, like you said.

      I’m so sorry you feel attacked when you post online – if I felt that way, I’d rarely post too (which, I don’t post as much as I used to – I’m just not that into it anymore.) And I would go back in a second to the days of wall phones and 20 foot long phone cords! And while we’re at it, I’d also like to go back to cassette tapes – they didn’t scratch and you could physically make a mix tape and give it to someone. It’s too hard now to give a playlist to someone!!

  2. I am actually suspicious of the super duper lovey dovey ones. That usually tells me that there is trouble in paradise. I have one that the husband literally says “I love you (pet name” I knew that was overkill but Eh not my circus. Well I happened to find out that he cheated on his wife. That makes sense with all the I love you’s now.

    I don’t post as much to FB anymore but I do stalk it. I kinda switched more to IG for my support. I want to get back into blogging support as well though.

    1. I’m often suspicious of the super lovey-dovey ones too, but I honestly thought this couple was the real deal. I don’t know why I thought that, but I did. I stalk FB a lot too – I also stalk IG. Lately I’ve been using the Marco Polo app with my bff and my nieces – that has been a lot of fun! I miss the blogging community as it used to be – there are really only a handful of blogs I read now though and I don’t often comment. Probably because there are too many other things vying for my time and attention, which is a poor excuse, but there it is.

  3. Long before there was the internet, I found out that people faked their lives then too. I still remember visiting someone who seemed very happy, and then hearing the next week that she tried to commit suicide!

    1. Oh that’s awful! I think it’s probably one of those things (being fake) that has always been around, we just get to see it more up close and personal with social media now. :/

  4. I don’t post a ton on Facebook (my only foray into social media). When I do I try to be honest about what is going on in my life. But I also want to be encouraging and to remind people that just because life can be hard doesn’t mean it’s all bad. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna but I also don’t want to be Chicken Little either. It’s a fine line to walk. My 21 year old daughter has a friend who, if you look at her social media pages, you’d think has a life that is all sunshine and roses. In reality she is undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. In a world where there are so many ways to connect, I still believe that actually talking to people is still the best.

    1. I totally agree with you Bonnie. My life is pretty boring and low key, so I don’t have a lot to post about but I’m not afraid to post my frustrations or my happy moments. I have a friend who is going through chemo for breast cancer and she is so good and being positive while also being very real. She hasn’t sugar coated anything and she shares the hard realities of living with cancer but she is also by nature a happy, positive person. If only everyone on social media could be like that!!

  5. People who try to make their lives seem perfect on social media mystify me. I guess maybe they’re trying to convince themselves that things aren’t so bad? I don’t really envy anyone based on their own portrayal of their lives. We’ve all got our issues, and people who pretend otherwise are going to have it the hardest in the long run. Also, sending some love to your friend Z – I’m happy she’s finding ways to move forward, and I’m sorry for her loss and her grief. It sounds like she’s finding ways to reach out when she needs support and maybe writing those posts is therapeutic for her.

    1. Thank you Veronica – that’s very sweet. She has her hard days, but she’s doing very well.
      I know what you mean about being mystified – I’ve always felt that if I’m struggling, then others are probably struggling also, so what shame is there in letting people know that things aren’t always sunshine and roses?? I mean, that’s been the theme of this whole blog for the last 12 years!! (hey guys! I’m a big dork, won’t you join me?!) Lol!

  6. It’s kind of ironic you posted this topic. I have been feeling low because I have done exactly what you’re posting about. I was just telling my husband how I feel lately. If I had an instagram it would be dull. When I read others, I feel fat, lazy, boring etc. I’ve been struggling with my weight, my job isn’t a career, my weekends are not non stop activity or events. Thanks for reminding me that perhaps things are not exactly what appears on someone’s instagram.

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