Social Media’s Perfect Lie

If all you do is follow my twitter feed, read this blog, and skim through my facebook posts, there are a few things you might come to believe that are only few partial truths.

You might think that my job is more entertaining than it really is. Don’t get me wrong, I have a good job. The company that I work for has been a supportive and challenging and a blessing for the past seven and a half years. My coworkers are a colorful cast of characters, but it’s not the never-ending wellspring of funny and peculiar people. While I find the innards of my job duties fascinating, the tedious details of what I do would bore most normal people. You might see the nerdy pop culture references and rick rolls scribbled on my dry erase board, but you don’t see the Excel formulas and SQL scripting. You’ll read about unfortunate typos I come across or odd comments I overhear, but you probably don’t understand that the moments of office hilarity are an infrequent occasion.

You might think that my kids are among the quirkiest and most well behaved children on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, they have their quirks and they usually maintain decent manners but they are not angels. Friends and coworkers often tell me how much they enjoy reading the “stuff my kids say” tweets. In reality, only a fraction of the funny stuff that comes out of my kids’ mouths makes it to twitter. Yet, for every laugh inducing or mind boggling phrase they speak, they’ll say an equal amount of words that are rude or disrespectful. You might read about JJ’s maniacal laughter after telling me how he is going to sit on my face, how my daughter wants to keep her bowling shoes, or how Christian hoped all the orphans could find a home before Christmas. But you haven’t read a post about them saying “I got the last spear of asparagus - that means you can’t have any more.” You haven’t read about the screaming and the tattling and cries about how life is unfair because one kid got to cuddle and another one didn’t. You might see pictures of them on Sunday morning before we go to church, but you don’t see photos of them on Sunday night when they’ve been wrestling all day and don’t want to go to bed.

You might think I live a intriguing life, that I am infinitely cool, and that my day to day experiences are filled with excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be a captivating person, but I have a healthy self perspective. I'm not that interesting. You might see me post a few Star Wars or Lord of the Rings jokes, but you probably don’t realize that I’m a bigger geek in real life. You might see the #nowplaying hash tags in my twitter feed or read occasional song lyrics in my facebook status updates, but you probably know nothing of the hours I spend organizing my iTunes playlists like I have been clinically diagnosed with OCD. You might read about me playing my guitar, but you can’t hear my clumsy strumming patterns and I’ll probably never admit that I’m really not that good of a player. You’ll see foursquare check ins when I’m at the theater or the bowling alley or the Tillamook Cheese factory, but you won’t ever see a check in for when I’m mowing the lawn and you probably don’t realize that a majority of my time is spent at home or at work. You might know that I play video games, but you probably don’t realize that I play Sudoku or Angry Birds as much as I play Call of Duty or Dead Island. You’ll see me post comments about karate practice, yoga, and brisk evening walks, but I rarely mention that I’m still horribly out of shape. For every witty post that I write online, I say three or four remarks that makes Bekah roll her eyes in a combination of dismay and concern for my sanity. It might seem like I usually look on the bright side of life, but I’m jaded and cynical.

This online world we inhabit creates a abnormal microcosm where appearance is only a filter of what truly exists. We get to share our joy and pains to the extent we wish them to be known. We are given the freedom to mold our image into whatever shape we desire. We can accentuate the best of who we are, exaggerate choice bits of personality, and trim out the parts of our being that we don’t like. We describe events like a highlight reel and pass it off as the definitive history of our life. I use social media to make me look more interesting than I really am.

But here are some truths that I hope don’t get lost in the alternate reality of social media.

I adore my wife. I'll admit that marriage isn't easy but I couldn't imagine a world without her. Through trials and tribulations, she's stood by me. She's given me strength and forced me to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man.

My kids are my world. Even in their most aggravating or obnoxious states, they light up my life. They bring me joy and contentment I never understood before they came into existence.

My life is truly blessed. It is complicated. At times it is stressful. I have been broken and downtrodden. Bekah and I have been through hardships that I could never fully describe. Yet through it all, God has taken care of us. (At the risk of sounding cheesy) we've never had everything we've wanted, but we've had everything we needed.

I am thankful for the people in my life. The dad's group that I play poker with once a month: they understand the challenges I face raising a kid with aspergers because they also have kids on the autism spectrum. The kids on my quizzing team: they make me feel young and relevant. My team at work: my boss is committed to my professional growth and my peers match if not outshine my geekiness. My family: in all their eccentricities, they make me me. A few key friendships: they keep me grounded an sane.

It is possible that the above truths get lost or over looked in the lies of social media. It's not really a blatant falsehood; there isn't an intent to deceive. That's what makes it a perfect lie. The story I tell is not complete. It's only a part of my life's narrative - and really it's only the parts I want you to see.

I will continue to tell that perfect lie, these half truths. Because when I'm gone, I'd rather you remember the funny things my kids say. I'd rather you remember the victories I celebrate. I'd rather you remember the best version of myself that I can portray.

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