Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Highlight Reel

One of the dangers of reading blogs or routinely following social media is the comparisons that can all too frequently result...comparing your life to that of others. (A topic I pondered earlier this year here.) Of course, this isn't social media's just serves as the avenue by which we're able to see so very frequently what everyone else's life looks like.

Or, do we?

A friend shared the following quip with me a few months ago. (I'm not sure who deserves credit for saying it in the first place.)

"Don't compare your everyday life 
to someone else's highlight reel."

The point is, the images and stories shared on blogs or Instagram or Facebook are very often only part of the story, chosen to depict an event or an experience (or an outfit...or a house...or a child...) in the way that the owner wishes for it to be. I suspect that we rarely see the big picture...the entire story.

And I think that leads us to have very, very false impressions of the lives that others lead...believing that they are more glamorous individuals or that their lives are far more idyllic than our own.

I'm not suggesting that every person who posts such things is maliciously trying to deceive others. It's fun to share snippets of our lives with loved ones and frankly, even complete strangers. We're (myself included) intrigued by the lives that others lead, and conversely, others enjoy knowing what goes on in our world. But the reality is that what is shared is not always the whole truth. And, we often only share the best parts of our lives for others to see. I'm guilty of that. And I need to be ever-mindful and very cautious about my intention in sharing bits of my life. Because if my motive simply becomes showing others how great I believe I have it, then I've crossed a line.

With that said, now seems as appropriate a time as any to share the story of our family adventure to the local fair a few months ago...with all the nitty-gritty, entirely unglamorous details.


Bobby and I have fond memories of summer trips to the fair, especially during our dating years, when it was a yearly ritual complete with an annual photo in front on the ferris wheel. (Which I would love to include an example of here, were the photos not stuck on an old hard drive and on DVD's. Ugh. The never-ending challenge of figuring out to effectively store and archive thousands of digital photos.... If you figure it out, let me know.) It had been a couple of years since our last visit, and we were excited to make new memories there...this summer, with our daughter!

As we left the house that evening, I felt a bit queasy, but not so much so that I thought it to be overly concerning. We bought our tickets and made our way in the gates, but no sooner did we step onto the midway that it became abundantly clear to me that I needed to find a bathroom. Quickly. I'll spare you these details, but know that our first 45ish minutes at the fair were spent racing to find a restroom...and then another one. (I told you...glamorous, right?!)

While I dealt with my unhappy digestive system in what were certainly less than pleasant fairground facilities, Bobby was left trying to manage an unhappy one-year old, who was upset by Mommy's sudden disappearances, a looming bedtime hour, and the nearby balloons that she had spotted but could not attain. (To dear Bobby's credit, he did a great job, even succumbing himself to a sales pitch by a life insurance representative in the sea of vendors for the sole purpose of securing a balloon for Emerson. What a guy!) Suffice it to say, none of us were having much fun.

Once I began to feel better, we managed to visit the cows and see the baby chicks, and Emerson had a great time playing in the corn-filled tire. We saw the horses before their show, walked around the midway again to see the ferris wheel and all of the lights, and Emerson got her first little taste of a corn dog. It was a beautiful summer evening and it was special to be out together as a family.

Below is the photo collage I posted to Instagram...which, frankly, suggests an idyllic evening...a happy little family enjoying the fair in all its glory...right? These are the images of the parts of the evening I enjoyed. And, there most definitely were some! I wanted to remember these details of the night, and in my opinion, they were worth sharing.

Regardless, it probably would have been more accurate to show a photo of the inside of a bathroom stall. Or, at the very least, a picture of our family looking as frazzled and underwhelmed by the occasion as we felt.

No one really wants to see that, though. Nor is it any fun to admit "this was not entirely a good experience...things didn't go as planned...I had tummy trouble...our life isn't picture-perfect".

But, all of those things are true.

Between the unplanned bathroom visits, the plumes of cigarette smoke we were repeatedly forced to walk through, a generally "dirty" environment,  and a tired toddler, our trip to the fair was hardly the lovely family experience I'd pictured...though it was memorable, indeed!

(Bobby and I have discussed the possibility that the fair experience itself was always similar to this, minus the bathroom stops. The possibility that we were too distracted by our young love years ago to realize it...or that our perspective of a 'fun' outing changed once we had our baby along with us. It's possible. But, we also really do think that the fair has gone downhill in recent years. Another definite possibility, I think.)

So, case in point. I used Instagram to show a "highlight reel" of the evening. I didn't exactly depict our real life experience. And, that's okay...but perhaps, to some degree, dishonest. I need to be mindful of the "reality" I'm presenting and thus implying to well as maintaining an awareness, for my own sanity, that others may just be showing their "highlight reel", too. 


  1. My friend and I just had this discussion on comparing your life to other bloggers and being envious and thinking they have the perfect house/car/family etc. But, like you we always come back to needing to be humble and realizing you have more than many others in the world and family is most important above all else! Thanks for sharing the "real" fair experience!

    1. I think it's a really interesting topic, and important to discuss! This is an article that I linked to in a previous post (which I realize now is much more relevant to this post, haha) that I think you may enjoy.
      Thanks for the comment. I miss reading your blog, but I'm sure you're quite know, saving animals and everything! ;)