“Just bein’ real”
This is a phrase I hear often, especially on social media and I’m not gonna lie…I cringe when I hear it or any form of it!
#keepinitreal #realtalk #letsbereal #justbeingreal
To me, it’s one of those phrases that is full of passive-aggressive punch and condescending tone. There’s usually always a not so nice message wrapped up in it. Typically, these phrases insinuate that unless you share some or all of your not so pleasant moments, you are lying or just an overall fake person. I have even heard some people go so far in saying it actually makes them sick when people don’t acknowledge their #keepinitreal moments and act like their life is perfect because they know…it’s obviously all a show. Now, I’m not really sure how long this saying has been going around, but these dramatic statements have only been magnified to me within the past year.
When I first started noticing people share their desire for “realness” and “authenticity” on social media, it seemed to be coming from a place of insecurity and it always reminded me of Steven Furtick’s quote, “We compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” For some reason, people can no longer just see the highlight reel from someone’s life and recognize that these shared moments are only a glimpse into that person’s life. Social media has given people a false sense of entitlement to know the intimate details of everyone’s life and when they don’t get those details, they begin to fill in the details themselves based on their limited information. And for many, they make inaccurate assumptions. They assume people are trying to convince others that their life is perfect if they only share the good times when in reality, they aren’t trying to convince anyone of anything. They truly are just enjoying the moments as they come and get excited to share these moments with their family and friends hoping to bring a smile to their face as it did theirs! I mean, maybe people really do take the time to stage photos and lie about conversations and events to paint a lovely picture in an effort to cover up the pain that’s really happening in their lives, but come on people…are we really that insecure with ourselves that we are going to assume the worst about people when all they do is post happy and encouraging posts on social media?
It kind of takes me back to my middle school days! Who remembers the term “goody two-shoes”? This term was used to describe an excessively virtuous person, a do-gooder…but it had a very negative connotation. No one wanted to be “that person”. I can remember when someone would get called a “goody two-shoes”, they would begin to spill the beans on every little bad thing they had ever done because God forbid, no one wanted to be known as that kid…the always do-gooder. They were the ones that would get made fun of and they never fit in. They wouldn’t get invited to fun parties because the good girls and boys made people uncomfortable. They weren’t relatable or liked by most. Many kids spent lots of time and energy trying to convince others that they weren’t as “perfect” as others saw them and many of those kids were embarrassed about being labeled the good kid.
When I started seeing this “let’s be real” trend on social media gaining popularity, I found myself thinking like those middle school kids. At first, I felt like I needed to tell everyone all my struggles and failures just so they didn’t think I was a fake. I started questioning everything I posted on social media and said to people. Would my words be received with smiles or eye rolls? I found myself feeling like I needed to convince others I wasn’t perfect. And what better way than to share all my struggles, weaknesses, and mistakes. I mean, that’s what people are really looking for when they want others to “be real”, right?
But every time I started to post about my “real” moments…you know, those less than flattering moments, I heard that still small voice whispering to me that I needed to delete and not post. That still small voice was the Holy Spirit and do you know what I have learned? The Holy Spirit is our filter. He helps us take those thoughts captive before we speak them…or type them. He urges us to be silent when our quest to be transparent can in turn tarnish our witness. He convicts us of our wrongs quietly and seeks repentance when we would rather use our struggles as an area to connect and be relatable. He seeks change when we seek comfort in knowing we are in good company. He really began to work on my heart about this #keepinitreal trend and here is what he taught me. The quest to be relatable isn’t worth sacrificing my influence.
I’m afraid that’s what is happening all over social media. We are sacrificing our influence all for the quest to be likable and more relatable. I see it on my newsfeed, I see it in blogs, and I even hear it in some churches. It’s a call for authenticity and transparency. People want to relate to their peers, bloggers want to relate to their readers, and speakers want to relate to their audiences so in their quest to be more relatable, they share some of their more vulnerable or “real” moments in life. It’s all about building connections and relationships. We have been told “You lead with your strengths and you connect in your weaknesses” so in an effort to build connections with people, we are being more vulnerable and opening up about struggles, our weaknesses, and our failures. But social media is not the place to share our vulnerable moments.
I am extremely cautious as to who I accept friend requests from on social media. Because I post pictures of my children and family, I have very secure privacy settings and I only accept friend requests from people I actually know! Even then, I still have close to 800 friends! I didn’t even know I knew that many people! My friends list is made up of family, dear friends, acquaintances, old classmates, previous students and coworkers, pastors, teachers, and many who I admire. Knowing that all of these different groups of people have access to my posts, I have to make sure everything I post is filtered by the Holy Spirit. Whether I like it or not, people are watching me and my words and actions will leave a lasting impression. As a Christ follower, I am more concerned that my posts, words, videos, and photos leave a sweet fragrance that reflects Jesus than I am about people relating to me.
Several years ago, I did a Beth Moore Bible study and in it she said something that was so profound to me that it stuck with me all these years later. She said, “Be authentic to all. Be transparent to most. And be intimate with few.”
I looked up the definitions to those words because they seem to be trending on social media. To be authentic simply means to be genuine and accurate. We should be authentic to all. When we post things on social media, we need to be sure we are giving an accurate glimpse into our lives. Notice I said an accurate glimpse. It’s just a glimpse. Don’t be posting false information. Be authentic. Transparent means easy to perceive or detect, evident, and obvious. We should be transparent with most. That means most of the people on your friends list and in your sphere of influence should be able to detect what kind of person you are by reading your posts. The things you post and the things you say should serve as evidence as to who you are. When you are transparent, people don’t have to make guesses or assumptions about you. Your values, convictions, and priorities are obvious. That’s transparency. Then there is intimacy. Intimate means private or personal, detailed knowledge. This kind of information is intended for just a few people. This small circle of friends knows your dreams and your fears. They know your strengths and your weaknesses. They know the intimate details of your life and your children’s lives. Sharing private and personal information on social media when you have several hundred or thousands of eyes reading is just not wise. You may get more followers, more likes on social media, and more clicks on your posts, but at what cost? As Christ followers, being relatable and likable shouldn’t be our goal. We need to be set apart from the world and we should be living by a different standard. Are we perfect? Absolutely not! But do we really need to share our flaws and failures to the world just so others can relate? No! No! No! I see so many people that have a great call on their lives to be influencers and it makes me so sad when I see them compromising their ability to influence all for the sake of likability.
Research has proven that people remember negative memories far more than the positive ones. It’s true! I have a billion amazing memories of my childhood, but wouldn’t you know it that I still remember the one time one of my elementary school teachers had a melt down and cried in front of our class? And in the 36 years I have lived, I still remember the only time my parents were in a “heated argument” and then there’s that awkward time my Facebook friend told the world what she really thought about her life. My point is it doesn’t matter how many encouraging words you say over your lifetime on social media or how many good things you do, that one bad seed can leave a lasting impression.
As Christ followers, our sphere of influence should be far greater than our circle of friends that we are intimate with. Too much transparency can tarnish your influence. I believe as Christ followers, our number one tool to influence and touch lives is living out your life in a way that reflects Christ. Hands down…a life well lived will leave a far greater impression on those you leave behind way more than any words or stories you shared. Period. So please don’t feel like you need to be transparent with everyone in order for the door to be opened to make a difference in their lives. Trust me…people are watching you. They notice how you handle tough situations. They notice the way you look at your husband. They notice the way you love your kids. Let that speak volumes. Let the Holy Spirit be your filter. Let Him silence you when necessary and let Him lead you to speak when a message needs to be heard. Often times, the strongest messages and lessons learned can come from a place of weakness, so I’m not saying never share…just be sure your message brings glory to the Lord and not just another comforted follower. And don’t be afraid to share your highlights! I don’t think you are bragging or being fake! I love it! I’m so thankful that the Lord has surrounded me with amazing friends and leaders! I love learning from you! I love being challenged by you! I love learning from you on how to be a better mom! I love to see where I can be a better wife! And I love it when you challenge me to go deeper in my relationship with Christ! I’m watching! I’m listening! You make me want to be better and do better! So keep sharing!
I think we should start a new “let’s be real” trend! I think we need to change the tone. I would love to start seeing #keepinitreal on all of the blessed moments of your life. As Christians, we are living in the favor of God and its time we get real about sharing how blessed we truly are and stop being ashamed about it! Life is beautiful! I can’t imagine living any other life than this blessed life that I get to call mine! God is so good! So can we start being real without others getting sick of our happiness and mushiness? Life is short people! Let’s embrace the good and trust God to change the bad and let’s leave behind a sweet fragrance of Jesus with every word we speak and every word we type friends! Here’s to my new favorite hashtag for the coming year! #keepingitreal