Everyone craves authenticity. Some people fake it—whether for selfish reasons or for business—while others are truly authentic and share what is on their heart and mind. I’ve always been purposeful to be authentic in what I write and also when I share on social media. I want people who read or see what I share to truly sense and know that they are getting the real me—not some fabricated version of myself. I believe my authenticity will shine the most when my character speaks honestly—but I choose to do so sparingly.
Sharing Too Much on Social Media
In today’s overly saturated selfie culture, authenticity can often equal sharing everything, like:
1. Big Moments (pregnancy, new job, engagements, etc.)
2. Pictures of Our Children
3. Significant Thoughts or Experiences
It’s exciting to be a part of these experiences because it’s when you get to celebrate, share your excitement, and include others in watching your kids grow up. Sharing these things may seem harmless, truly authentic, and may be joyful in spirit. However, I think about it a little differently.
Social Media Steals Meaningful Relationships
Sharing on social media actually steals from you the very thing you desire—meaningful relationship. It’s really easy to share something of significance these days with just the click of a button. Plus it can be addicting and somewhat of a high to see who likes what you post, who follows you, along with what comments you’ll get. Aren’t the things that hold significance meant to be reserved for the relationships that matter most? My husband and I think so. In fact we believe that sharing too much begins to degrade the very foundation of all of our relationships.
1. The offer: a sense of community and family that diminishes the value of your real family and close friends.
2. Fear of missing out: your children and you may miss out on something, we need to document it.
3. It’s exciting to have people comment, like, and share what you share. It makes you feel like you’re important.
I focus on the these three reasons that bring joy to my life—and why they matter more than a status update, an awesome picture, likes, or follows.
1. Family First
We save things for the people in our life that matter most—our family. This could be small things or big things. The point is that we want our family to know we love them and we honor them by sharing and cultivating that relationship. We especially make sure to share big news with our immediate family first.
2. Protecting Identity But More Importantly Innocence
In today’s culture, protecting your child’s identity is a concern. We agree and that is part of the reason why we limit what we share about our son, but the bigger reason for us is to protect his innocence. The things that we freely give away—we can’t get back. Think of those kids who lost their childhood to the media during their formative years—like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus. Their lives were displayed for all. Granted it was on a very big scale, but it’s a similar principle with social media. Each time you share on social media you’re doing the same thing. You might be thinking, “My parents shared stuff about me all the time”—and that may be true. The difference today is that now it is documented—while the stuff they shared can easily be forgotten.
Looking to your child’s future—how will they handle this exposure?
Will they feel like it’s an expectation that they have to meet?
Will they feel shame or failure because their life has been shown to the whole world, like the movie, The Truman Show?
Another example that hits my heart more is when your child’s innocence is stolen and you have no control over it.
One day my mentor was at home with his wife and three children when the phone rang. His middle daughter who was about four years old at the time ran across the room, “I got it! I got it!” After a few seconds, in a timid and scared voice she called out, “Daddy?!!” and he promptly took the phone from her.
On the other end of the line was a man’s voice who was talking X-rated sexual language.
That man—that phone call—stole something from his daughter and even as a father, he hadn’t been able to protect her from a seemingly harmless thing such as answering the phone.
At that moment, he was enraged and gave the man a piece of his mind before hanging up the phone. He went on to explain to me that although he could’ve just been angry over the call, he was broken. As a father, the one who is his daughter’s protector, he had felt like he had failed.
Our Children are Vulnerable
Our children are vulnerable and we have choices in how we protect their identity and innocence. We have chosen to do this by not sharing a lot of pictures of them on social media. We do share a little—but it is usually in ways that they cannot be identified. Does this mean we are immune to things happening? No, not at all. It just means we are trying to be wise in what we post and what we don’t.
3. My Spouse is My World
My husband matters to me more than the rest of the world and he should know more about me than anyone else. Sharing things online when my husband doesn’t even know about it, causes a break down in communication in our marriage. It also sends him a very clear message: he doesn’t mean much to me. The social media likes, follows, and comments mean more.
I love my husband more than anyone else on the earth—he should get my best. My best moments, my best thoughts, my best experiences above anyone else. I should also give him the opportunity to support me in my worst. If I don’t give him that opportunity, I’m stealing from him the joy of serving me, supporting me, and loving me in ways that no one else can. He loses. I lose.
In closing, write down one step you can take today in changing your habits with social media. Take the initiative to love your people well by sharing less.