Our (Fake) Storybook Lives

The New York Times recently reported that there’s a stark difference between what we post on Facebook and what we search for on Google. On Facebook, we share glowingly positive highlight reels of our lives, but our Google search histories tell a different story.

“Sometimes the contrasts in different data sources are amusing,” The Times explained. “Consider how wives speak about their husbands. On social media, the top descriptors to complete the phrase ‘My husband is …’ are ‘the best,’ ‘my best friend,’ ‘amazing,’ ‘the greatest’ and ‘so cute.’ On Google, one of the top five ways to complete that phrase is also ‘amazing.’ So that checks out. The other four: ‘a jerk,’ ‘annoying,’ ‘gay’ and ‘mean.’”

In other words, social media gives us the opportunity to pretend that everything is awesome! My life is great! I couldn’t be happier!

But that’s simply not reality. As The Times reported:

“Once you’ve looked at enough aggregate search data, it’s hard to take the curated selves we see on social media too seriously.”

“Curated selves.”

Ouch. That hits close to home, doesn’t it? I mean, we all want to look perfect; we all want to live that idyllic, storybook life. That’s why we share our happiest moments on social media, we say “I’m doing great” when people ask, and we try to look cool and collected at all times.

But let’s be honest—on the inside we’re all a mess. Relationship problems, health concerns, sin habits, jealousy, bitterness, the list goes on. There’s all kinds of stuff below the surface that we definitely wouldn’t want to broadcast to the world.

I can attest to this. At first glance, you might look at me and think I have it all together. A sweet family, a good education, a well-paying job, a big smile. But on the inside, everything is not okay. Doubts—like big, worrisome, “is God real?” doubts—constantly harass my faith. You wouldn’t know it from looking at me (or my social media profiles), but they’re definitely there.

So what’s the takeaway from all this?

Well, first of all, whatever you’re struggling with, let me assure you that you are not alone. Being human means being imperfect. Yes, even your cheerful, smiling friends who seem to have it all together have big problems too (including me). So take heart, you’re not alone (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Second, remember that our Heavenly Father sees right through our shallow storybook facades (1 Samuel 16:7), but He still loves us with a fierce, unending love. Not only that, He offers us righteousness through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, best of all, it’s not phony, fake righteousness—it’s true, lasting, eternal, righteousness.

Broken sinners,
welcomed into God’s kingdom.
Now that’s storybook.

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