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.

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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?