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How does one be real and authentic in a #filtered world?

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I was talking with a friend the other day who had deactivated their Facebook account. Initially I had assumed I was blocked because this person had been an avid poster with their account full of witty status updates, Instagram pics of a seemingly perfect life, and basically looking like they were enjoying everything that came their way. The life they shared online looked glorious where they got tons of comments and likes on practically everything. (Meanwhile I’m sitting here cheering when I get ONE person to like something.) So it was a rather big shock to hear that their reason for leaving was because they were tired of seeing other people having lives while they weren’t having one of their own due to constantly having to work all the time. I was like “But YOU looked like YOU were having the life!” I would have never guessed that they were jealous of other people because to me, I was jealous of their life. Like seriously, I found myself feeling like I was never going to be seen as cool enough based on everything they posted and found myself trying to post things on my wall to get THEIR approval. In reality, they were only trying to make the best of what was rather a grueling and tiring life.

It’s funny how with social media we get jealous of people for sharing their perfect lives, annoyed with people for oversharing their not so perfect lives, and then with our own personal lives, we just try to hide everything. We’ll either put up a facade where it looks like we’ve got it all together. This can either be on social media or even in person.

Yet inside we’re hurting and wondering if there’s anyone else out there who feels the same way we do.

How do I know this? Because for years I did this. When I was going through the worst parts of the years leading to my divorce, you would have had no idea based on my Facebook statuses or my Tweets or even if you saw me in person. I was determined to hide it and fake it so that no one would know what was going on. I didn’t want people to start judging me so I just hid everything to the point where it was like I was living a double life. You would have never known how much I was struggling during those years and what was actually going on in my real life.

And yet, sometimes there were cracks. Every now and then a rather emotional status would pop up because I couldn’t hold it in. But because I never hinted or alluded to it at any other time, the random statuses look odd and no one says anything, and it does come off as oversharing. If you’ve been positive so much and then get randomly real, it makes people uncomfortable because they don’t know what to do.

Sometimes though you don’t even need to share anything at all and it’ll still have the same effect. People who don’t post anything online but still don’t talk about it in real life either have extremely private lives or extremely boring lives. It’s not a crack at you. You just either don’t want to share things with everyone or you have nothing to share. Though I will say that if you don’t post things online but you continue to look at everyone else’s, well….you’re basically just being a voyeur aren’t you?

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But this is what I currently struggle with now. How can I be real and authentic without oversharing, being too dramatic or appear overally emotional? How can I ask a Christian show both those who share my faith and those that don’t that life is not always perfect but through it all I am getting through it because of my faith? I feel like other Christians tend to hide behind their faith and we don’t want to share the messy because we’re supposed to have it altogether. If anything, we’re supposed to have 100% trust in God and anytime we show doubt or anger or uncertainty, it looks as if we don’t, therefore it’ll appear as if we don’t have strong enough faith.

If I see someone with wonderful pictures all the time of a seemingly perfect life with their kids, significant others, DIY projects, food, car, house, job, etc. my two initial thoughts are “Why do they have it all together and I don’t?” or “Are they hiding something behind all the perfectness?” The problem is I don’t know what the truth is. Even if I know them pretty well. I’ve seen people put up their struggles on social media, not whining about petty things, but real honest struggles that makes them seem more authentic to me only to have other people blast them for being negative. So these people DO want to see a facade?

Yes, I get that a lot of you come to Facebook to escape your own life. You present the best parts of yourself online. You don’t people to see your messy and while you want to see if others are experiencing struggles, you overall don’t want to swim in theirs either. It’s a convoluted process.

All I know is that I want to try to be real and authentic when portraying myself even though it’s hard and at the same time to NOT get jealous or feel inadequate when seeing everyone else. I highly doubt anyone is jealous of mine. Right now it’s all me basically being excited about the new Avengers movie, defending Hawkeye, and all the books I’m reading. It’s my actual life and I’m not being fake about it. Taking myself offline isn’t going to be the answer for me. I’m sure I’ll figure this out…..

In the meantime, posts like this bring me back down to earth: The Reality Behind Instagram Feeds.

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Ridiculously Photogenic People….of which I am not one.

There are some people who always look good when taking a picture. I am not one of them.

Some people have the gift of looking good no matter what the situation is.

Example: 

This guy here? Ok, most people do NOT look like this while they are running. I ran in a 5k obstacle course yesterday. Trust me, the majority of people running didn’t look like this.

There are some people who it doesn’t matter what angle you take the picture from, they will always look good in the picture. I love looking at candid shots because when everyone is posed, it can sometimes look really fake. Wedding candid photos are the best because everyone is always happy and you know they are having a good time.

But I hate being IN a candid shot because I know I will look horrible no matter what the situation is or what I’m doing. I cannot take a good random shot. While being invisible, having super strength, or the ability to read minds are awfully tempting superpowers, the ability of looking good in every shot is a very enviable gift to have.

And this doesn’t just happen when you’re older. Certain babies have this gift as well. There are some babies that just don’t take good photos and even their own parents know this. Meanwhile there are other babies who get all the modeling jobs because they look so gosh darn cute even when they are screaming their heads off.

For some reason, I always come off looking extremely awkward when it comes to pictures. Even when I look at myself in the mirror and think I look actually pretty decent, for some reason put a camera on me and I feel like I don’t look anything like how I feel my reflection looks like.

I always dreaded when yearbooks came out because I never knew what kind of awful looking random shot of me was going to be included. When I get a notification that I’ve been tagged in a picture on Facebook, I always approach it with trepidation because I’m fearful that someone has tagged me and I look horrible. For the record, DON’T tag someone when you know it’s a bad picture of them. Believe me, they will not feel left out if you tagged everyone else in the pic but them. Also, if it’s just ONE person in the picture and you KNOW it’s a bad picture of them, don’t post it. COMMON SENSE.

I have some friends who know their photogenic side and will do their best to make sure every pic of them is taken from that certain angle. Of course once they pointed this out, you can’t help but notice their “bad side”.

Of course in this age of photo shopping selfies and finding the perfect filter on Instagram, most folks take dozens of shots before posting the perfect pic online. Because let’s face it. The real reason why we post pictures, any picture, is to get approval from others. Sure, there are some unicorns out there who truly don’t care if no one sees their pictures or they don’t get any likes at all. They get joy in just taking the photo. But they are also the ones that don’t strive for the perfect picture.

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I don’t NEED your approval but I secretly want it

Validation. What is it? It’s getting feedback from others that “what I do and what I say matters to you. You hear me. You see me. You think of me. You thank me. You acknowledge my accomplishments. You appreciate my efforts.”

The opposite of validation? Non-recognition. “I don’t give a damn what you want, what you say, what you think. Who cares? You’re overreacting. You’re nuts. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” (http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/09/21/the-importance-of-validation/)

I could question the fact that I’m writing about validation on a blog.

But you know what? I know I’m not the only person that this can be an issue for. Sure there are a ton of people out there (even some who read my blog) who don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. And that’s fabulous! It really is. They don’t need to be told they’ve done a good job. They just do what they want. And this is how they react when they think someone else feels like they need approval in their life:

Social media can play into a huge validation trap of wanting likes, comments, retweets, favorites, page views.

For example, sometimes when articles I write get published I feel like they get lost in the ether. I sit there and watch what seems to be everyone else get recognition from everybody under the sun and all the page views in the world. And meanwhile, my work gets pushed to the back burner and no one notices that I’m there. It’s not that I’m jealous of other people’s accomplishments. It’s that I can’t figure out what I did wrong or what I should be doing to get to that level. For some people they don’t have to make any effort at all. And while I AM proud of my own work, I also do wonder if maybe my work isn’t as good as I think it is? Is it really bad and just no one is telling me? Did I pick unpopular topics? Is there something else I should be doing?

I could be completely wrong and I may be making a huge assumption that might blow up in my face but I feel like extroverts probably suffer from this more than introverts. In my mind, if being alone makes you feel better, than you’d be completely comfortable if other people didn’t notice you or keep trying to get approval from others.

Do I need to have people constantly telling me all the time how well I’ve done? No. Please. I don’t want that.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve done something and no one notices at all. I’m not really good at self promoting, in fact I hate it like a champ. I’ve learned that people don’t like bragging. And maybe it can just be some of the people I’ve been around that anytime you just mention things that happen in your life they seem annoyed or cannot be happy for you. It makes me just not want to talk about anything I’ve done. Maybe that’s my own problem though.

If no one ever said anything, that’d be really hard. Sometimes it makes me feel like what I do is a waste. If it’s really worth the time spending if no one says anything at all. Even if I enjoy it, what if I’m wasting time that could be spent somewhere else? At the same time, I need to be do things for myself and not try to get the approval of people who really just don’t care. I’m not going to simply change my interests just because not everyone likes something I do. There’s a fine balance here somewhere.

And now I’m going to close this by Jesus juking this post:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Additional reading: 10 Signs You Might Have a Need for Approval

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There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don’t know how

I saw a status in my Facebook feed this weekend that irked me a lot. The comments that followed didn’t help to stop the irritation. I didn’t respond though.

I see arguments on Twitter when I disagree with the things people are saying. Reading them sometimes makes the blood pressure go up. I don’t engage however.

Sometimes I’m standing in a group of people and there will be a debate where I have strong opinions in. While listening to the argument, I feel the need to punch a wall. But I don’t speak up.

There’s a lot of times that I want to say things but I don’t.

It’s not that I’m afraid to say something. It’s more so that other people shout louder than me.

There are folks that have VERY strong opinions and they are not open into hearing things from the opposing end. If I try to say something, it gets lost in the crowd. People speak over me. Even if I know I’m right and I have tons of things to back me up, it sometimes feels like it’s not enough to get the other person to hear me.

It’s great that you have your beliefs and if you feel confident in them, you shouldn’t back down. But what frustrates me is when they think their way is the only way and they refuse to learn or listen to anyone else.

Here’s an example for me: In case you still haven’t picked it up after reading my blog, I’m a Christian. I am very strong in my faith and I’m not going to change it. However, I take the time to learn about other religions. My minor was religious studies and it was probably one of the best decisions I made in my life. Because in doing so, it helped me make me see why I believe what I believe and it made my own faith stronger. But at the same time, it helped me to understand those of other religions a lot better because now I knew what they believe in and understand their POVs and I don’t need to scream about what I believe in.

Maybe I’m just weird. I’m strong in my opinions of what I like or believe in. But (outside of family) I’ve found that being belligerent about what you’re passionate about, even with people who do agree with you, doesn’t always lead to the best results.

Learning about the other side doesn’t mean you’ll sacrifice your own beliefs. Sometimes you need to stop shouting in order to make yourself be heard better.

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Help-Rejecting Complaining (or I like being miserable because it gets me attention!)

I was on Twitter the other day (fine, I’m on Twitter every day) and I saw a status from someone where they seemed to be complaining about something. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this person jokingly complain about this situation. It’s something they’ve brought up many times over several YEARS (though to be fair, I only started noticing it a few months ago). And yet when solutions were offered, the person either rejected or ignored them.

It can be frustrating from the other end to keep seeing this happen. You think surely if someone is that unhappy or irritated with the current situation then wouldn’t you want a solution?  Why do you want to stay grumpy and complain all the time? I mean why keep bringing it up especially after someone gave you a possible out to the solution?

It baffles me trying to figure out why anyone would want to live like this. Am I the weird one who doesn’t want to be like this? Because I know for me, when I do vent or legitimately complain to someone, I try to make sure that 1) I’ve exhausted all resources I can to find a solution, 2) unless it’s something that can’t be fixed, I try not to keep bringing it up and 3) I don’t let the person who offered me the solution see me keep complaining because I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

So I took to Google to help me find out the reason why. It took me several attempts to come up with the right combination of words.

A “help-rejecting complainer” complains as a way to seek help and support, but then rejects any help that’s offered. Whenever anyone tries to make a constructive suggestion
– “Why don’t you try…?” or “Could you…?” — the help-rejecter insists that the advice is useless. In fact, help-rejecting complainers sometimes seem proud to be beyond help. http://www.gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2011/01/assay-a-useful-term-the-help-rejecting-complainer-why-dont-you-try-no-that-wont-help/

After doing more research, it seems that people do this because they get attention. And social media is the best place to for this to thrive. Because now you have the entire world to listen to you.

And in the scenario I described, it makes sense. I don’t know if the person thrives on the attention they get from these joking complaints, but obviously they want to share it with the world if they are posting it on Twitter. I guess I just notice it more because it hits too close at home when I did offer a possible solution only to have it ignored/turned down. And every time I see a complaint/comment related to this, I wonder if they realize I can see this and just don’t care that it feels like a slap in my face or if they never connected the two together and are completely clueless. I don’t understand people.

For most people, they would say just ignore them or block them. Don’t let it bother you if it doesn’t have to. And yes, I realize that I do have that choice. And it may come to that eventually. There’s not really any emotional ties making me have to stay connected to them. They may or may not even notice that I’ve disappeared. When I put it like that, it seems like a no-brainer right?

I think at least for me, I just want to know why. I want to understand why you keep complaining, why you rejected the help, or at the very least or why do want to keep publicly flaunting it where you know I’ll see it. I want to help. But sometimes help isn’t wanted and you need to just let go and walk away from someone who is either that toxic or just plain clueless.

There’s a difference between needing to vent once or having really big struggles that you’re trying to work through. It’s another to just keep complaining for attention’s sake.

And this is the last time you’ll hear me publicly complain about this 🙂

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You either like something. Or you don’t.

There are three levels of how people deal with “there’s a thing I don’t like which pretty much everybody else likes” syndrome:

1) “I guess it’s just not my thing.” This is fine.

2) “I don’t like it, and I honestly can’t understand why anyone would.” This can be dangerous, but it’s okay if you’ve made a serious attempt to figure out the appeal and genuinely can’t understand it.

3) “I don’t like it, and nobody else REALLY likes it. They only think/claim they do because [rationalizations]….”. Don’t do this. Don’t be this guy.

The above is taken from a recent Facebook post from my friend at Grading Fight Scenes. And he pretty much said verbatim the thoughts I’ve been having lately.

I have been noticing lately how vocal people are when they don’t like something. When they have something on their mind, they just jump right out and say it. They are much more outspoken than I am. If I don’t like something, I have the type of personality where I worry that I am offending someone so I usually tend to keep it on the inside.

But as I’m reading more social media, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. I’m seeing more and more of people who just say how much they hate something and don’t care at all what other people think.

For example this past week, the Oscars were happening. And I was very excited about them and I live tweeted through them. It was a lot of fun interacting with other people across the world and also because I was watching it alone, it just was nice to know that somewhere someone was able to share my thoughts. I did warn my readers in advance that I was doing this because I didn’t want to bug them. I also did the same thing during the Olympics. Things I get very excited about I like sharing with other people. Not because my thoughts are SUPER IMPORTANT but because I know that I can reach out and be social with them.

I don’t expect other people to share in my excitement because not everyone likes the same things as I do and nor do I anyone else’s. But when I see people posting comments, tweets, blog posts, or even say in person how much they hate these things and how they can’t stand when “such and such event happens” because it ruins everything for them, it makes me feel like I’m doing something horribly wrong for liking what I do. And then they proceed to go on about why they hate such things and why anyone who likes them are bad people. I’m like….what have I done to make you hate me so much???

But like I said that’s my personality. Even if I truly hate how you’re behaving, if you’re disgusting me and offending me horribly, unless you’re doing it in my face in person, I just usually let it go. I can always choose to not look at Twitter or Facebook. I can unfollow or block you. I don’t have to let your personal likes, enthusiasm, or mood get in the way of what I want to do. I make the choice to let it go versus just sit there and complain and insult others for what they want to do.  I don’t want you to know that I can’t handle it because your response would probably be the same as mine, just deal with it. However, I’m never going to tell you this to your face, nor am I going to spew this out anytime I see this on social media. Because I know it will offend folks and/or be taken the wrong way.

So I’ll be honest. When it comes to saying what you don’t like, I think it’s all in HOW you say it. According to the list, I’m a total number 1 person. I will let you know that I don’t like something so that you are aware. I won’t ever try to make you feel bad about why you like something nor will I claim that you don’t really like something and are faking it. But that’s just me.

Feel free to greatly dislike something. It’s your right. I just wish sometimes other people would just realize that everyone has different tastes and it’s ok that we all don’t like the same thing. Don’t get so worked up when unprovoked about it and try to immediately defend why you don’t like something or shoot down everyone else that does. Just…..let it go. It’s going to be ok.

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“You’re going to tweet about this, aren’t you?”

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I’ve been a Twitter user since 2008. I would have to say it’s my main form of social media. This post is not intended to try to convince anyone to use the service. I figure at this point, you’d use it by now if you wanted to.

I joined September 30, 2008. This was my first tweet.

I wish people on Wheel of Fortune wouldn’t buy vowels. Just take the risk and spin!

Wow. That’s really deep.

I have over 42.8K tweets (and I’m convinced that Twitter deleted a bunch of my tweets several years ago). Yes, I do tweet A LOT.

A lot of people still question the point of twitter. “Why do I care about what people eat for breakfast?” It’s amazing after 6 years of using twitter, this is STILL the number one response I get when people talk about why they don’t use the service.

Twitter is obviously so much more than that otherwise it would have shut down years ago.

I use it differently than how I use Facebook. It’s a different audience. Twitter is public. Facebook is more private. The whole reason why I started using Twitter was due to the fact that I was a book blogger and I wanted to get more involved in the community. And it helped me a lot to learn about book blogging, gain new friends, get connections, and help me to learn about social media in general. I see it as a marketing tool and as a way to brand yourself.

I’m not going to lie, when I see books and articles for the casual user on how to use Twitter, it kind of makes me laugh. It’s really not that hard. I jumped in not knowing at all if I was doing it right and I’m still using the service five and a half years later. Though I will say that on a marketing standpoint, there are several folks who still have no idea how to use it correctly and again, it’s really not that hard. You just need to put in some time and effort. This “10 horrible Twitter tips” list from Jon Acuff is quite accurate.

There are times when I’ll live tweet certain events (sports, TV shows, awards shows) and it brings a sense of togetherness with people all over the world. For example, the last two weeks I’ve been live tweeting during the Olympics and even though I’m not physically with people who are enjoying it as much as I am, I’ve found there are other all over the world who share my interests.

Twitter is also good at realizing you’re not the only one with unique thoughts. That thing you came up with yesterday that was so clever? Someone tweeted that 6 months ago.

I follow over 700 people and have over 1.2k people follow me back. I don’t just randomly or automatically follow back. The people I follow I have some vested interest in, where I will interact with them or I am just really interested in what they have to say. The people who follow me back, if I don’t know you at all I’m not going to just follow you back if you’re never going to talk to me. This is why I get a lot of people who follow me, see I don’t follow back and then they unfollow me. I’m not building up your numbers, folks. Tip: I like really witty folks.

I actually really like interaction. There are some people who just tweet things but never respond back to anyone. Sure, celebrities do this all the time (billboards as I like to call it) but sometimes I wonder about normal folk who do this. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. Why do you use this service if you don’t want to be social? Regarding the celebrities, some of them do it well with fan interacting, ,some don’t at all. I talk to a lot of authors on Twitter who follow me back so it’s pretty fun. My current goal is to have Josh Groban reply to me. The trick appears to be timing and being witty. Still working on that.

But for companies that use Twitter well, it’s a great way to do customer service and I do judge companies on how well they handle social media.

Sometimes I wish that I was a celebrity so that no matter what I said people would find it worth of a reply, retweet, or favorite. But then I realize, I don’t really want everything I say to be judged by someone. I also don’t want my @ feed getting clogged with useless stuff.

I will never say I’m an expert at using Twitter. There are so many things still to learn about using and maximizing it to its fullest potential. Also while I use the service a lot, it’s still not a 100% representation of what I’m like in real life. Pretty close, but if you get to know me in real life, slightly more awkward but just as cool.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me at @beatccr. Be warned. I can be slightly snarky, I talk about a lot of random things, and you’ll be bombarded with awesomeness. But if you do, it’ll be worth it. I swear.

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