Showing your true self(ie) on social media

Faux fur jacket: Vintage
Lurex scarf: Vintage
Jeans: Zara
Boots: TK Maxx

Disclaimer: This post isn’t at all related to the whole Essena O’Neill saga, the 19-year-old Instagrammer (with 500,000 followers) who dramatically quit social media denouncing it all as fake fuckwittery. Nope.

For me, this is more about the disconnect with your ‘real life’ self and your ‘social media’ self, particularly when those two worlds collide. We all have those groups of friends/family who’ve known us our whole lives and wonder who da fuq this sassy social media persona we’re portraying online is, or have no interest in helping us snap our outfit pic or getting a sweet, sweet still life of our Sunday brunch. FFS.

Recently, conversations with people I know IRL have made me realise that despite my relative reluctance not to overshare on social, I’m still managing to present a carefully curated version of my best self.

This might not sound like much of a revelation to others, but having recently come to terms with the fact that I’m an introverted extrovert (s’gotta be a thing, right?), I’m actually quite a private person and I tend not to share the exact minutiae of my day, or give everyone a heads-up as to when my house is going to be free when I pop off on holiday and that.

However, the updates that I *do* decide to share with the wider world may be giving off the wrong impression that my life is worry-free, without any problems; that I’m out having a good time all the time.

I was pretty shocked to hear this relayed back to me by one of my closest friends the other day. We hadn’t seen each other for a while – too long, really – and in reality, I had been having quite a shitty time of it: plagued by constant illness: chronic tiredness, daily migraines, a bout of a weird viral flu thing and then my monthly periods of hormonal doom (which demand a whole blog post, and definitely ALL the Tampax, tbh). Both of my parents have been in hospital, too. I’ve hardly been going out, unless you count the weekly shop as an exciting excursion.

I even had to move out of my flat for a few weeks while extensive work was carried out on the heating system, involving ripped-up floors, a burst water pipe and a fuck TONNE of dust, all the while living out of a suitcase but without the fun of being on vacay.

Life has been far from rosy – though events like the atrocities that took place in France on Friday remind me that I’ve a lot to be thankful for, don’t get me wrong.

But on the face(book) of things, it clearly looks like I’m having the time of my life, thanks to my carefully guarded Insta grid, and the odd Facebook check-in at a fancy place.

My friend was in fact, a bit miffed, because it looked like my life was a social whirlwind, yet I kept saying to her that I was too tired to go out, or too busy. She thought I was trying to blow her out, and I seemed to have time for everything else, but in reality I’ve actually been struggling to function a lot of the time and in no mood for socialising.

Another case in point, which actually pisses me off slightly, is when people forget that I’m a social media manager. I KNOW HOW IT WORKS. IT’S MY JOB. AND NOT EVERYTHING YOU SEE ON SOCIAL MEDIA HAPPENS IN REAL TIME.

  • Sometimes I post a pic straight from the place I’m in, but quite often I don’t.
  • Sometimes I wait until I’m back home so I can edit the image before Instagramming it. That’s right, I said EDIT THE IMAGE.
  • Sometimes, I scroll through my camera roll and pull out an old pic, especially if I haven’t shared something on Instagram for a while. That means that delicious brunch you think I’m having right now is actually already in the sewerage works #sorryboutit.
  • Sometimes, I schedule a blog post to publish it DAYS after I’ve written it. Just ‘cos it’s gone live, doesn’t mean I wrote it there and then. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Sometimes, I schedule the tweets promoting that blog post. Sometimes those tweets go out when I’m lying helplessly in bed, waiting for my migraine to pass.
  • Sometimes, I check in somewhere on Facebook that looks like it’s all sorts of uhhh-mazing, but in reality it was shit, and I only stayed there for five minutes. Ditto some press days. But I’ll maximise the opportunity because hello Instagram.

Now, I know to any other bloggers reading this, or anyone working in the digital sphere, the above sounds pretty flippin’ obvious. Fairly standard behaviour on ze socials, in fact.

But this is precisely my point. It’s the overlap between real life and Insta-fantasy that causes the problem. When old school friends follow you, or people from work. And perhaps it’s because they DO know you in real life, they also assume everything you share happens in real time, too.

I dunno.

This post isn’t very coherent, but hopefully you get the gist. Maybe you even feel the same, or have had similar experiences? I’d love to hear. Until tomorrow…


  • Comments

  • avatar
    Sally T

    Totally hear ya, sistah. I dread receiving a notification that ‘someone you know irl’ is now following you uggghh.

  • avatar

    1. Great post and, while I don’t have lots of followers, I totally understand the points you make. All you can do is be your true authentic self, no matter what platform.
    2. Love your look in the photo!


  • avatar

    I loved this, it really put thing into perspective. I always think I’m “faking it” putting up all these photos of amazing things and everything looks perfect…. but everyone else really is living the dream and I’m just providing some crap crafted knock off.

    It was so great to read I’m not the only person portraying the best bits of my life, and that everyone else is doing that too. There’s so much pressure for everything to be perfect but I think I just have to accept not everything always will be.

    • avatar
      Natalie Wall

      YES! I have that thought too – that it’s IRL for everyone else, and I’m the only one masquerading to keep up with the virtual Joneses. It’s definitely harder to accept/deal with if you’re a perfectionist (like moi). The thing is, I LIKE having a nicely curated edit of my best bits. I just need people in my day-to-day life to realise that’s exactly what it is: EDITED HIGHLIGHTS. x

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