No, but seriously, that was the furthest from what I hoped to do. Originally, I had actually written another paragraph empathizing with the social media façade, but although you'd probably never guess, I try to keep my writing from turning into a free-flowing stream of consciousness, so I chose not to digress any further. The intent of my birthday post for Jon was simply to honor him. I didn't set out to confront the paradox of social media, but I did want to add a bit of a disclaimer so I wouldn't be contributing to the problem of online comparison that can be so damaging. If I just post flattering pictures of my husband looking all burly, helping around the house, and doting over our toddler, without keeping it real to some degree, then the folks who rarely see us in more than cyberspace could get the impression we have a marriage or family worth coveting.
But here's the catch, no matter how real you wanna keep things, you can't share the negative stuff online. I can be open and honest about my own plethora of shortcomings, and in my opinion it's still okay to share when a toddler acts like a toddler (i.e. my current Facebook cover photo). But there's a certain age of accountability, which happens to coincide with about the age of entry into the social media world, where it's no longer acceptable to keep throwing your kids/spouse under the bus. This was a rude awakening for me, as a mom who had posted pretty transparently about our adoption and parenting struggles in hopes of encouraging others in similar situations. But then one day, Angie was online too, and it was no longer fair to be as vulnerable when it meant exposing her.
If there were sound bytes or video clips of my squabbles with Jon behind closed doors, I could probably share them with you, because mine would be the tone that would make us all cringe, and the scowl would darken my face not his. But if anyone recorded his list of unfinished projects that are driving me nuts, or the mornings I couldn't get him out of bed, it wouldn't be fair for me to divulge such details, (posted with permission from him here of course.) You see, we tend to get on social media right after a tense moment with the kids or spouse and we see others on date night. Maybe their date wasn't even that stellar, but they had good lighting for the selfie and Instagram has a filter for everything!
All this to say, there is a reason people mostly post their highlight reel online, not necessarily to make others believe they're doing better than they truly are, but because those are the moments you can share without insulting others. And those are the moments you want to dwell on.
So, to that wife who continued to keep up appearances, so to speak, even when the truth was likely much bleaker, here's what I almost wrote in the original post, but didn't want to digress from my main purpose of praising Jon:
Maybe those idyllic images and kind words about her man weren't meant to deceive anyone, but were meant to help her remember, and to remind him, of why she loved him. Maybe she too wanted to dwell on the beautiful moments and capture them for as long as she could. And maybe by speaking words of life into him publicly instead of condemnation, there could be hope for a future with more lovely times worth capturing...
May we all have the freedom to share much of the beauty that we experience every day, and may we have the wisdom to recognize others' posted moments aren't the only ones they're having, just the best ones.