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Transparency on the Internet

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“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick

Do you ever feel like everyone besides you has it all figured out? Like every woman has an amazing body, eats whatever she wants, constantly has her hair and makeup done, never pushes the clean laundry off the bed and onto the floor before bed, and has kids who love broccoli and never insist on ice cream for dinner? Been there. It seems like everywhere I look, people are stronger, fitter, tanner, smarter, wealthier, and happier than I am. But are they really? Hell no.

What we’re struggling with is what I’ve (I think) dubbed ‘highlight reel syndrome,’ wherein we do exactly what Steve Furtick was referring to in the quote above. Rather than recognizing that people on social media get to show us only what they want us to see, we think we’re seeing it all. We think everyone else’s lives is all rainbows and sunshine while ours is, well, real life.

rainbow and sunshine

We see a perfectly lit, posed, and flexed photo of a #fitspo and think “Wow, she looks amazing! Look at those abs! I bet she has those all the time. And probably without even trying! And she posted a donut burger last night! She gets to eat whatever she wants and still have abs all the time!” Is that accurate? Hell no!

What we didn’t see is the dozens of selfies that didn’t make the cut because they were unflattering in some way. Because of a blemish, or bad angle, or toothpaste stain on the bathroom mirror. What we didn’t see is the week she posted old pictures because she was bloated or feeling bad from eating ‘off plan.’ What we didn’t see is that she shared that donut burger with her boyfriend who ate 11/12ths of it. What we didn’t see is the pile of laundry just outside the shot, just waiting to be folded, or the overflowing garbage that hasn’t quite made its way out of the house yet.

donut burger

We see what people want us to see. We need to remember that. We do it, too. And there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with showing people your best. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to post a flattering picture as opposed to the one where you have a lazy eye and thumb in front of the lens.

I’m not suggesting anyone does this with ill intentions (well, not most people, anyway) and it’s not the highlight reel itself that’s the issue. It’s when we lose awareness that it’s a highlight reel in the first place and allow ourselves to compare someone’s Best Of to our Everyday Life. This is why sometimes I wish there were a little more transparency on the internet. Just to serve as a casual reminder that no one is perfect and the people we go crazy comparing ourselves to are human just like us.


These pictures were taken 30 seconds apart.

So what can we do to start the #transparencyontheinternet movement? For one, we can post some of our own behind-the-scenes to help counter all the highlight reels out there. We can show that we’re human and sometimes we have pimples or greasy hair or drink too much and feel it the next day. We can view highlight reel posts with a little bit of well-intentioned skepticism rather than just accepting them at face value. Remind ourselves that that perfect selfie probably took a handful of takes and a filter or two. (Can you even use more than one filter? I don’t know). We can recognize the beauty in “normal” and we can compliment people on their intelligence, accomplishments, grit, perseverance, and inner beauty, not just their physique. We can respect the people who show us their good, their bad, and their ugly, not just their airbrushed. We can recognize that even as we strive to better ourselves, who we are in the meantime is worthy of love, as well.

you are enough

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