Social media is often lamented for providing a stream-of-narrative, unexpurgated account of what’s going on in people’s heads (for some reason, people Tweeting what they had for breakfast is the most-often quoted evidence of this).
I won’t argue that social media does allow for a sizeable degree of over-sharing, but I would take issue with the idea that it’s unexpurgated. One thing I find fascinating about social media is the degree to which it allows us to edit the face we show both friends and complete strangers.
In particular, it allows us to improve how we present ourselves – to edit our lives for public consumption. A glance through Facebook makes me think all my friends have lives that consist of non-stop beautiful cake baking/eating, magazine-cover-worthy home improvement, sun-filled holidays and fantastically stylish AND on-sale clothes buying. Realistically, I know this isn’t the truth – my friends have to deal with dripping showers, lost TV remotes and socks with holes when these occur. We all just choose not to mention those aspects of our lives – we edit the dull stuff out.
Editing is a particular focus for me at the moment because I’ve just received back substantive edits for my next book – The Last Dreamseer. I wish it were the case that I only needed to edit out the dull stuff. Unfortunately, my editor has pointed out a number of gaping flaws that will need significant repair-work.
Now, it’s not editing how I present myself to say I’m confident it’ll all work out fine, because I genuinely know it will. I hire an editor on purpose to point out the work I need to do. If I wanted to be told my book was great as it was my mum could do that for free – and then readers could point out all the errors in 1-star reviews. This way round is much less painful.
However, in the interests of full-disclosure I won’t airbrush out the fact that it’s going to be a lot of work and will involve a sizable amount of both wailing and chocolate. But that’s life. Whatever the impression we give on Facebook or Twitter, it has ups and downs. What matters is keeping going through both.