#nofilter

The other day I was idly playing around with Snapchat. I snapped a picture of myself and all I could see were flaws. I saw bags under my eyes and I looked so old and tired.  I slid the screen to the left and saw myself again, but with a different look. Now I had clear skin and eye makeup.  I just looked brighter and happier, but I wasn’t. I was still the same person, I’d just put on a fake mask to make myself look better. It was definitely a better picture, one I’d much rather show others than the first. "Thank God for filters," I thought to myself.

A couple of weeks later, I sent a picture of my new haircut to a friend. I threw on a filter so I didn’t look as worn out and my color was better.  She said she wanted to see it without a filter.  I seriously hesitated. I didn’t like sending pictures without a filter any more.

As I think about it, isn’t this how we treat our lives? We slap on a filter so that others won’t see the real us. We want to only show our best to others.  I read somewhere that we need to quit comparing our behind the scenes pictures with others’ highlight footage. People post on social media what they want others to see rather than their real-life stories.

What if we all tried to get a little more real. What if we went #nofilter. What if we let others see us, flaws and all, with all our wrinkles and bags under the eyes. What if we were honest about stuff we are going through in life instead of trying to be as fabulous as everyone else tries to be on social media.  Maybe we’d be less judgmental of others, knowing that they have serious stuff going on in their lives. Maybe we’d be easier on ourselves, knowing that others struggle just like we do.

I think we know that in our head, but it’s hard for our eyes to believe it when what we see on Facebook and Instagram are the highlight reels of our friends’ lives instead of big picture. What if, on Twitter, we posted pictures of our sky high laundry mountain or our messy toddlers wailing in the middle of the floor. What if we shared that we were struggling with hard stuff like depression, divorce, addiction and grief. I think we’d be pretty uncomfortable with those things. Maybe our friends couldn't handle it if we did. We don’t want to be that real with people and maybe we don't want them to be real with us. Does it make us feel better to think all is well with the world, so we don't have to step out and do something about the hurting around us?

I understand not wanting to let the world know about our deepest pains on Facebook, but what if by sharing you helped someone else know they weren’t alone. What if it gave them the courage to reach out for help or to share their own stories and help someone else. Would it be worth it?

I see the hashtag #nofilter on social media often.  When we have come to the point where we filter so much that it’s such a big deal when you actually don’t and you have to share that information, it’s too much. I crave authenticity in my life. I want to just say what’s on my mind instead of thinking so dang much.

If we live life with openness and vulnerability, maybe we’ll find others joining us in doing the same. Worst case scenario, people will find out you are a real life human with real life emotions and real life problems. Is that such a bad thing?