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Being more genuine on social media could make 2017 suck less

 About me:  I have been staring at these words for three hours and still can't figure out what to write!  Why is this so hard?!  It's about me for God's sake I know who I am!  My name is Rachel Ulriksen.  I'm a third grade teacher, girl ...

It's time we stop lying and posturing on social media

Last night my husband took all the kids sledding and I had the whole house to myself.  (Oh silence I’d missed you.) And I found myself watching my first ever TED Talk explaining that the Millennials are all screwed up because they were the first generation to be raised in the age of social media and I thought, “Well what’s wrong with social media?”  It’s fun, it connects people, and how else would we find out about obscure celebrity deaths?” 

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Well according to TED people use outlets like Facebook and Twitter to lie. People lie to get out of trouble and make themselves seem better or more important than they are. Now I’d heard this before but never gave it much thought, but for some reason coming out of an expert's mouth it sounded very true. So I turned it off and went on Facebook to test the theory. Do you know it's right? People aren’t just lying, they’re bragging and whining.

In the new year, we're all committed to making 2017 not suck right? Well I think there’s a very simple place to start: social media. Pick an outlet (Don’t pick Twitter it’s evil) and ask yourself an honest question: Do I post honesty, blatant lies, shameless bragging, or complaints?

For example, I have a friend whom I’ll call Narcissa because it means “love thyself.”  She’s blonde, beautiful, rich, and thin with a hot husband and perfect children. Her posts are all pictures of herself in front of her shore or lake house in a bikini with her hot husband and perfect children and the captions read something along the lines of:  #Lovinglife#soblessed#livingthedream#purejoy.

If it’s envy she's seeking, congratulations she's got it. However if her desire is to “connect” with people she needs to try something different. The next time she starts to post a new picture of wearing diamonds, she could post a picture of the wart on her toe instead and tell us it hurts. She's already desirable, but people want relatable.

Of course there are also people who do nothing but complain about the problems I wish to God I had in place of my own. I'll use "Amanda" as an example because we all know someone who when her posts come up in your news feed you roll your eyes and think, “Could you PLEASE start a blog so I can NOT follow it.”  Page after page and you’re just like, “Shut up already!”  And what kills you is she’s a nice person. A genuinely nice person who just has zero grip on reality and WAY too much time on her hands. The last thing I read went something like:

"I’m so sad. Honestly I’m so sad I think I might drown in my sorrow. Yoga didn’t help. I’m sitting here trying to plan our 11th vacation of the year, a month long tour of France, and I can barely lift my fingers to type. We have to sell our shore house. We’ve crunched the numbers a million different ways but it’s the only way we can afford a boat big enough for all of us to sail around the world. I know I have to have priorities but I just can’t stop crying. Maybe I’ll go get another tattoo?"

People, please don’t be Amanda. Before you post about a problem can you please make sure it’s something anyone would consider a problem. There are people out there facing illnesses, death and bankruptcy and don’t tell me it’s all relative because it’s not. If your biggest problem is that you have to sell your summer home to buy a boat, you don’t have any problems. You are surrounded by people who are genuinely suffering so in a world where you can be anything, be empathetic.

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And now for the liars. We’re all liars but some people post things about themselves that just aren’t true to mask what’s really going on in their lives. I have nothing witty to say about this except please stop. You don’t have to be like me and post about your problems constantly, but once in a while it would be nice if you admitted you had some.

I read a post from an old friend the other day that really blew my mind. Her husband recently left her for another woman and though she’s devastated about it she posted a selfie with the caption “So Happy To Say I’m Single!”  I sat there thinking, “No you’re not. I know you’re not. I talked with you for an hour last week while you cried. Why are you posting this? Because you don’t want anyone to know you’re sad? Your husband just left you who WOULDN’T be sad?”  I speak from experience people: When you are in pain, if you lie and say you’re happy the pain gets worse.

That’s why they say that the Millennials are so depressed – because they turn to social media where everyone is happy so they think they’re the only ones depressed, and then they get more depressed. When your life sucks you don’t have to talk about it, but don’t lie, it just makes it worse.

Then there are people like my friend Maria who is one of those rare people whose posts are all honest and fun. She is honest because she has no sense of how to lie. Her posts crack me up not because she’s trying to be funny, but because it’s stuff that actually happens to her. A typical Maria posts is along the lines of, "This is the third time this week Edward has fallen off the roof." When she posts pictures it’s of the cake she baked, the mountain of clothes in her laundry room or her son’s newest black eye.

When I read Narcissa’s posts I feel envious, when I read Amanda’s I feel angry, when I read the liars I feel sad, but when I read Maria I feel like I’m home. I smile and think, “My laundry room looks like that too!”  It makes me happy to see I’m not the only one and to think I might be anything like her, this sweet, inconspicuous, joyful little soul who is never anything but honest about her life. Honesty heals even the most broken of souls.

So if you’re looking for 2017 to be different, the next election to be different, or if you’re looking to make a difference of any kind, tell the truth on social media.

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