In our day-to-day life, in any given moment, we are usually one of two people. Either the person we present to the world, or the person that we are when no one is watching. The person we present to the world is some approximation of the person we aspire to be. The clothes and makeup worn, the demeanor exhibited, the measured manner in which we react and respond to things, even the secrets kept and flaws concealed are examples of the various methods we employ to convince the world that the role we play is genuine. Of course, while some people manage to create elaborate and strikingly different creations than what they allow the world to scrutinize, others may feel comfortable with a simply photoshopped version of their personality. For all intents and purposes they are sincere but maybe they soften their more abrasive quirks or vulnerable pressure points until they feel they can trust someone to reveal them.
While it's tempting to say that social media is to blame for our duplicity, it's a behavior that must span the breadth of time itself. It is, however, a lot more easy to observe through sites like Facebook and Instagram. The idea of crafting a persona for the world to see that may fly in the face of the one that actually exists is much more profound and obvious when you dictate which digital images represent you. Maybe you want to be an exciting jet-setter who posts photos of all the exciting places you've gone and the beautiful toned bodies that surround you. Perhaps you want the world to see all the cool people you're friends with or the crazy nonstop party your life is. Perhaps you want the world to see your life as one big Anthropology catalog or someone with impeccable taste in music, movies and books. We carefully curate the image of our lives with photographs that hide the parts of our bodies we're self-conscious of, the amusing anecdotes that we share and the photos of children and pets that present us as competent adults. Of course it would be strange to include in your Instagram feed a photo of a fight with your girlfriend or a photo of you on the phone with the IRS trying to figure out why you owe them money from 2011. The banal and less than shiny moments in life don't necessarily need to be announced to the world via wireless hub to make you a genuine person- but we've all seen the hoops one can go through to deceive the world into thinking they are someone else. Someone cooler or funnier or prettier or more exciting. These may be benign deceptions but deceptions nonetheless. We all do it. Which is what makes it all the more ironic when we ourselves fall for it with others. We convince ourselves that everyone else is living some great, Earlybird-filtered life, free of self-conscious need for approval. I sometimes think there should be a social networking site built for the sole purpose of allowing us to create profiles that only our exes can see. We could focus so much more intently if we could cut through the less important people in our lives and just focus on the one thing that matters most- making our exes regret letting go of us. Upon signing up for an account the app immediately sends out a password to every ex-boyfriend or girlfriend you've ever had- this can also include people who you had a massive crush on but never managed to ask out or were rejected by. Maybe- and this is where I get real crazy, maybe you could buy a premium version of the app where the passwords you get sent to peep at your exes would all go through a filter that adds acne and weight gain and bad, frosted tips to their hair. The filter would add empty two liter bottles of Mt. Dew and stacks of unopened mail in photos of their apartment and sour expressions of discontent in the eyes of their new mates that say, "You were lucky to have dodged the bullet that is life with this schmuck." Wouldn't we all feel better? Sure we'd still be lying to ourselves but at least it would feel a bit more satisfying.
In the end though, what is clear is the importance of the people in our lives that we trust enough to be our real, unfiltered, un-curated, unglamorous selves with. We need people that remind us that we aren't loved only on condition of being exciting and attractive and thus, worthy of love. In truth, while we may think we're trying to convince other people of how great our lives are, we're really only trying to convince ourselves of this fact. My advice for today? Find that person who loves you no matter what and thank them for being the real proof that your life is actually pretty great. Even if it wouldn't impress your ex-boyfriend.