Parents have been saying to their teenagers for years “you know what’s on social isn’t real, right?” The perfect portrait, the perfect group of friends, the most beautiful sunset… sometimes it’s all pre-planned, pre-worked, shot a million times, edited and then published at the exact day and time to evoke a response. It looks so natural and real when it gets to the feed, but check the camera roll of a teenager who took that photo and see how many didn’t get selected.
In this highly curated world we live in, it’s hard to know what’s real. And I’ve always said the best social media content is just that – real. Authenticity comes through honestly and lack of it comes through just as clearly. Spend a minute on TikTok watching a couple “Get ready with me” clips. It doesn’t get more genuine than that.
But in the past week, there seems to be a level of honesty coming through that we haven’t really seen. Sure, we’ve seen strangers yell at each other in political Facebook comments, and that’s real for sure, but this is about getting personal, and putting themselves out there, raw and without holding back. I think it comes from a point of view that says “I’m fed up and I’m tired of taking this.” Just take a look at Drew Barrymore’s instagram video today, taking her words back – and clarifying the facts of what she said so the tabloids will stop twisting her statement.
A friend of mine shared a beautiful post on her personal page last week. She said she enjoyed seeing all the happy, smiley end-of-the-school-year photos all over social, but that’s not her reality. Instead, she has a teenager who is so glad school is over because it’s been a rough year. She went into some details about friend groups and social strife along with a quickly-caught candid of her daughter looking away, not smiling. Authentic as hell.
I’ve been this mom at one point or another. Who hasn’t? (NOTE: If you haven’t, either consider yourself very lucky or ask yourself if maybe YOU have the mean kid). But I would never have been able to share it, not in the eloquent way she did. We always focus on the happy slices of life, the impossible perfection we aspire to have, knowing full well that no one – no one – believes our life is as wonderful as the newsfeed we put out there. It was vulnerable of this mom to put this post out there – but the number of comments she got of support from people who had been there too – is really why this whole social media thing was created, right? For connection. To find likeminded people. To get emotional support when it feels like there is none.
So the next time you want to over-edit a piece of content, think it over. See if you can be brave enough to put yourself, your brand, your reputation out there as is. You might be surprised by how great the response is.