“I‘ll bet you eat amazing gourmet meals every day for lunch, right?” a friend of mine recently said to me. I had to admit that I barely eat lunch at all most days, and when I do, it’s usually cheese and crackers or leftovers eaten over my computer.
Yeah, I’m a food blogger. Yeah, I cook up yummy stuff all the time for my blog, or eat out at the city’s hippest restaurants. But my reality on most days is, I roll out of bed and into yoga pants, make coffee, and work on my computer for at least 5 hours a day with few breaks. I often forget to even eat.
The thing is, I mostly don’t share those days with you. I share the highlights–the recipes I’m working on, the restaurants I’m eating at. Funky trips I’m taking. Cool things I’m doing.
A recent selfie of the boy and I taken during a trip to the Pike Place Market in Seattle. My instagram feed is full of delicious food photos and places I’m visiting.
There’s a couple reasons for this. First off, I don’t really feel like everyone in the world wants to know about my mostly boring days. I love my work, don’t get me wrong, but when I’m head-down and in the zone, I’m not thinking about much else than the words that are rolling off my keyboard. Secondly, I have a personal brand. And my personal brand is social media and food. I want to show you those things, things that are a bit more interesting than me sitting at a computer all day. Finally, I’m getting invited to eat at restaurants because of my social clout. They want me to come and tweet and FB and Instagram and blog about the experience. It’s my job. And I take that pretty seriously.
However, it’s an interesting time in which we live. I’ve been reading some articles online these days about the lengths that some people online are going to to build this personal brand. They are very carefully crafting what they put up online to create a very specific image.
It’s the next level of social media. But, like television reality shows, you have to take everything you see online with a huge grain of salt. Reality TV is never really reality. Shows are edited and some are even scripted, or the participants are given suggestions as to what they should be doing. In the same way, a lot of social media these days is not reality.
And I have to admit, I am guilty of doing this to some degree. But I don’t think this is a positive development in social media. It creates a lot of pressure on people to be perfect, to present this “perfect” life, which they don’t actually have. Which no one actually has.
I’m not unhappy with my life. Quite the opposite. I have a wonderful life with great friends, a career I’m passionate about, a fabulous city to live in, and a wonderful son. But the reality is, I have days when I’m quiet because I’m working, or I’m tired, or it’s raining, and my body aches and I have a headache from the change in barometric pressure.
But I don’t often talk about those things online. I want my contribution to social media to be positive overall. But I also want to be authentic. This balance is something I struggle with every day, and always have. I don’t know what the answer is–I guess it’s different for everyone.
What do you think? Do you purposely play down the negative things in your life and play up the positive ones? I’d love to hear how you balance social media and reality.