By Erika Fehernbach Prell
Did that title catch your attention? How about those Insta-worthy photos? I am excited to let you in on the backstory on this perfect example of a social highlight reel.
Have you ever heard the term “highlight reel”? Basically, the highlight reel is what most people share about their lives, whether in person through stories or, more recently, on the multiple forms of social media. This includes all the great things that are going on in their lives like birthdays, celebrations, kids sports, achievements, and new jobs. Most people share only the good things going on in their lives with others; the complete story that includes struggles, failures, and frustrations is usually reserved for the inner circle. Particularly on social media platforms, these snapshots of domestic perfection can cause those that are struggling to feel “less than”.
Let’s look at my pictures. Aww...handsome Liam enjoying an ice cream cone at the back to school ice cream social, my perfect family at Liam’s birthday party, and that adorable Lucy sporting her baseball attire as her brother’s favorite fan! Let me tell you the real story, not the highlight reel one - what you see and assume is going on versus what really was happening.
One of my friends tagged me on this picture of Liam from the school’s website. This picture captures the perfect last days of summer moment - ice cream, seeing friends before school starts, enjoying precious moments outside before Wisconsin weather turns on us. What didn’t you see? About three minutes before this picture was snapped, Liam was having a fit that they didn’t have ice cream dishes, only cones, AND that he had to go get the ice cream himself if he wanted it. Did I mention this was a free ice cream social? You don’t see me getting completely frustrated with Liam’s attitude, getting angry that big brother Ethan doesn’t want to help Liam get the ice cream, and Lucy freaking out because she is super crabby. That’s what was really going on behind that perfect snapshot of social media perfection. By the way, Liam realized that ice cream cones are actually quite delicious and all was well in the world.
Look at that perfect family in this not only Insta-worthy photo but also a Christmas card-worthy picture? This was at Liam’s recent family party to celebrate his 8th birthday. What you might not see? Adam is hiding in the back because he has on an old shirt that he changed into to play wiffle ball and basketball in, the boys are annoying each other, Lucy is super annoyed with taking pictures, and there are literally four adults behind the camera trying to get everyone looking in the right direction and smiling. Domestic perfection, right there.
And, finally, case number three, the adorable baby sister in her baseball superfan outfit. This is the ultimate example of the highlight reel in action - and where the part in the title about a baby covered in poop came from. This summer we were at an out of town baseball game. On the way back to the hotel, we were in a drive through waiting for our dinner to be delivered to the car when Liam said, “there is something on Lucy’s face.” Ethan was next to her so I asked him to check it out. He swiped something off her face near her eye and handed it up to me. It didn’t smell and appeared to be baby food, which seemed odd. Call it third kid or just exhaustion from being out in 90 degree heat all day at a baseball game, I didn’t think much of it. We got to the hotel and went up to the room. I set sleeping Lucy down in her carrier and got out her pajamas so that I could transition her as fast of possible to her pack and play for the night.
And, that’s when the mystery substance was revealed. The baby was covered in poop from her head to her feet! O.M.G. At some point, she had blown out the side of her adorable baseball-inspired onesie and proceeded to have a good-old-time playing with it. I mean, I guess it was entertaining. Having three kids, blow-outs are not new; baby painted in poop from top to bottom, however, was a new experience. Again, this did not make social media mostly because I was too out of sorts to figure out how to clean up the situation to document it.
Social media has become an ingrained part of our lives; there is no escaping it. Even if you happen to not be on social or a certain platform, people reference them all the time. A quick Google search produces multiple links between social media and mental health, particularly an increase in depression and anxiety. When you are depressed or anxious, social media and highlight reels can add to these feelings and make your mental health worsen. Even those not suffering from depression or anxiety can “not enough” themselves based on what they see on other people’s social feeds. Remember, these are just a snapshot in time of the highlight reel; you are only seeing a quick representation of the victory and not the struggles and valleys behind that domestic perfection. Behind that Insta-worthy snapshot might actually be a baby covered in poop.
Shine on, friends!
Side note - Depression, anxiety, and mental health is a serious threat to someone living their best life. September is Suicide Awareness Month. There are many resources and mental health professionals that want to help you, or those that you love, get through these very serious health conditions. If you or someone you love is struggling, please seek help.
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.