Back in the day, “Keeping it real” was a popular phrase used in hip-hop culture. It was about being genuine to who you are and where you’re from. Keeping it real wasn’t always the best etiquette and tact at times, but it beat the dreaded alternative: being phony.
Unfortunately, it seems keeping it real is a thing of the past in today’s society, largely due to virtual profiles we create via social media.
With the hundreds, if not thousands, of social media networks out there, we dive deeper and deeper into creating profiles, posts, and fake images of ourselves. It’s not that what we post for public consumption isn’t true, it’s just incomplete.
I was conversing with a friend recently about how Facebook posts present false images. People only post the best things about their lives: cool vacations, new outfits, new cars, cute kids, and delicious-looking meals. They leave out the photos and statuses of when they are sitting at home alone, can no longer fit into those jeans, when the car breaks down, when the kids are driving them crazy, and when they burned the meatloaf.
The truth is, the latter happens more than we let on. And that’s just reality. But we don’t keep it real anymore. We want our lives perceived as perfect.
This causes a few problems, but primarily it tickles our tendency to compare ourselves with others. We look at the selfies, vacation photos, and plates full of food and think we’re missing something in life. We think our lives are not as great as those on our friends list. But as Pastor Steven Furtick once said, we should never “compare our behind the scenes footage to other people’s highlight reels.”
Essentially, we tend to compare those perfect things people post to the most imperfect things in our lives. The things that most people wouldn’t dare to post, but we are all experience.
Now, I’m not saying that we should publish all the negative, private, and frustrating things about our lives (because honestly, some of us need to chill on sharing all our drama with the world). I just believe we shouldn’t be focused on creating a flawless public image of ourselves.
The reality is, we have plenty of issues. And when we’re brave enough to open up and admit it, we realize others are experiencing the same problems and have the same imperfections.
The most tragic thing is that practice of putting only the best image forward plays out not just virtually, but in public, particularly in the place where people should be most free to keep it real – the church.
Unfortunately, in the place we need refuge and should be able to openly share our weaknesses, we find ourselves being more fake than ever. God forbid someone in our congregation finds out we struggle with self-confidence, fear, lust, doubt, insecurity, pride, etc. It’s not like 99% of the people, including the pastors, aren’t dealing with or haven’t dealt with the same issues. And that’s just my personal list of issues. I’m sure you could add your own.
It’s time for a reality check. What type of image are you portraying? Is it authentic, or are you just trying to make your life look awesome to others? The whole you is much more beautiful and much more admirable than just the “best” you. Let’s go back to keeping it real.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices we make every day. It’s the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Brene Brown