Instagram Envy During the Holidays: Beware of the Pitfall


Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words; other times, they are total liars. So before we fall victim to Instagram envy during the holidays, let’s look at things a little more realistically.

Yes, photos can capture the most beautiful moments in one’s life. Sometimes they are spontaneous, and sometimes they are planned with color-coordinated outfits and contoured faces. I’m reminded of how wildly popular the mall-based Glamor Shots used to be before selfies and filters made that business obsolete. One year I was gifted this experience and now have too many photos of myself in a Blossom-style denim vest and floral floppy hat. (For those of you who weren’t stylistically influenced by this 90s sitcom character, you dodged a bullet.)

My point is, the edited self is usually the easiest self to put forward. But a picture is only a click’s worth of information that doesn’t depict the other 86,399 seconds of the day. It’s that longer portion of the day that really shapes us and leaves an impression on our hearts, in the moments that no one else sees.

Mastering Instagram envy during the holidays takes work

Scrolling through our social media feed can be particularly painful or frustrating during the holiday season when families with the backdrop of changing leaves, falling snow, piles of presents, and overflowing dinner tables abound, and our lives don’t seem to match up to those images. There’s a reason we have the saying “as pretty as a picture.” We want to share the “pretty.”

It’s that longer portion of the day that really shapes us and leaves an impression on our hearts, in the moments that no one else sees.

I’m guilty of this, of portraying myself as someone who has it together. Or maybe I’m trying to share “pretty” moments to also remind myself that in the midst of chaos, there is always something worth capturing and sharing.

Our family recently took a trip up north. Being the Florida girl that I am, I decided I needed a photo with a fall tree, stat. Someone who sees that photo may automatically fill in the rest of the day’s picture with visions of pumpkin spice lattes and cute kids rolling around in falling leaves. But what they don’t know about the moment they saw—when my young daughter and I were standing in front of an orange and red laced tree—was that it was sandwiched between a plane ride full of blowouts, toddler tantrums, death stares exchanged between two frazzled parents, and a midnight run to Walmart for snot suckers later that evening. Now that doesn’t make for a pretty picture, does it?

Or, I can recall another photo from a couple of years ago when we shared a sweet image of our family after a Thanksgiving meal… While others may have seen a happy, color-coordinated family, all I saw was the parent that wasn’t there now that our family now shared holidays in separate states, post-divorce.

So remember, when scrolling through social media during this most wonderful time of the year, that there is always more behind the picture; there is always more that can’t be seen. Don’t let another person’s moment in time feed the internal pity party just waiting to be started in your heart.

So, yes, a picture is most definitely worth a thousand words, but don’t assume you know what those words are…

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