What We Post on Social Media vs What Really Happened

Image via Galit Breen

Social media can have even the coolest of heads comparing their bloopers to others' highlight reels. This can make even the nicest of hearts feel jealous and act differently than they'd (we'd) like to. In my book, Kindness Wins, I call this the Greener Grass Perception. A part of creating a culture of kindness is stepping right into the reality that highlights and bloopers exist for all of us and using that knowing to feel — and act — better. Let's do that right here. I'll start.

This fall, Jason and I surprised the kids with a trip to Disneyland. It was wonderful and magical … about 75% of the time. Doesn't the photo above look like it falls into that 75%? It so doesn't.

This was exactly mid-vacation. My younger two were on the kids' meal plan and kept ordering chicken nuggets every day, then complaining that all they were eating was chicken nuggets! Brody was so over being on our schedule. We agreed to take him to Downtown Disney that morning, which required a bus ride, a boat ride, and then another bus ride back to the parks. He was motion sick, not in the mood for nuggets, and all done being on vacation.

Right before I took this photo, everyone was whining about the nuggets, the birds, the cold. And right after? I took Brody back to the hotel for a four-hour nap while our other three went on rides. Jason and I are the only ones who remember this day for what it was, and you certainly wouldn't guess that this is how the day was going from this photo, which I haven't posted until now. But I bet every parent reading this can relate; there are always bloopers behind the highlights. Social media changes how we perceive things. We just have to remind ourselves — and our kids — that nobody lives in a highlight reel.

Ten women share their own Greener Grass Perception moments, showing that when we look past the highlight reels, we really are more the same than we are different.

Image via Rochelle Fritsch

Rochelle Fritsch is a newly job-free wife and mom from Milwaukee.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “Just an impromptu carefree photo of my fun-loving family, happily packed for a picnic in the park on a sunny day. My daughter's goofy face is beaming, fun loving. And just look how carefree I am, rocking that baseball cap! So much happiness was packed into that tiny little car. There was barely enough room for our picnicking gear.”

What actually happened: “We were on our way to an afternoon family picnic and running late because everyone overslept that morning. My daughter was super hyped because summertime and a chance to eat crappy food all day. My husband, on the other hand, was crabby-edgy because we were running late, yelling out the time in five-minute intervals with a few Could we please hurry up?! thrown in for good measure.


“In between screaming back at him, I hear you, I'm not even ready yet, and No, you aren't taking a handheld with you because you're going to actually talk to people at the picnic at my daughter, I barely had time to brush my teeth or wash my face. Or comb my hair. Which is why I was rocking the baseball cap. Mix up all of the above, add Hey, let's take a picture and that's what we ended up with. Who says chaos can't be beautiful?”

Image via Dina Relles

Dina Relles is a caffeinated lawyer, writer, and mother of three young sons who blogs at Commonplace.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “Here are my three handsome, obedient sons out for an evening stroll to find the ice cream truck, whose jingle we just happened to hear from our house while we were playing board games or eating vegetables or some equally wholesome activity. Oh and look, my oldest is such a caring, doting big brother that he often puts his arm across the small of the younger boys' backs as they cruise the neighborhood in peaceful harmony.”

What actually happened: The boys heard the ice cream truck jingle BEFORE DINNER, of course, and made a mad dash for the door — sockless, shoeless — just freakin' BOLTED towards the street. So I did the same, yelling after them and waving my arms like a wild woman to COME BACK and put on socks and shoes and we don't even have money to buy ice cream even if we DO find the damn truck! Well, that got 'em. So back they came for footwear and cash and out we went again, at this point missing the truck altogether, which led to no tears whatsoever. Nope. None at all.”

Image via Kristin Nilsen

Kristin Nilsen is a writer and erstwhile librarian who blogs about cabin style and cabin life in far northern Minnesota at Cabin Crush.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “The long-lost besties can't get enough of each other during their reunion!”

What really happened: “I took the photo in burst mode because I couldn't get them to pose for a photo. And the next photo totally exposed my lie; that was no embrace — it was a strangle hold. All day long, they fought to be the first in line for EVERYTHING. I have no idea why being the first person on the merry-go-round is so important, but it was like they were fighting over the last seat on a Titanic lifeboat. All day! It was exhausting.”

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Image via Heather Davis

Heather Davis is a momma and a writer. Her latest book, Life With Extra Cheese: Being the Ham in the Sandwich Generation, hits bookstores on June 30.


What it looks like happened in her picture: “I stood in the crystal clear Illinois River and snapped a pic of my feet soaking in the refreshing waters.”

What actually happened: “The water was flippin' freezin' cold, and the minute I popped a toe in the river, I had to pee. Of course, the cabin was about 500 yards away, so I had to snap the pic, then hurry in order to save not only my outfit, but my dignity as well.

Image via Ellie Grossman

Ellie Grossman is a stay-at-home mom who never stays home. Ellie is also a co-producer and co-director of the Listen To Your Mother Show in St. Louis and the author of the award-winning book, Mishegas of Motherhood: Raising Children To Leave The Nest … As Long As They Come Home For Dinner, which is a collection of stories that combine domestic satire with Jewish wisdom that applies to all modern families.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “We are blissfully posing on the street of the Hollywood Walk of Fame after we just met one of our favorite celebrities, Ellen Degeneres, at The Ellen Show, in March 2015.

What actually happened: “While it was truly one of the most exciting times of our lives to be in the audience of The Ellen Show earlier that day, sitting on the wet, dirty sidewalk by Ellen Degeneres' star at Hollywood and Vine was another story. There was a homeless man peeing next to me, my 16-year-old daughter, Sari, was complaining that we were taking too many embarrassing photos, and she was worrying her white shorts would get dirty. On top of that, my legs were so stiff that I needed my friend to pull me by the arm so I could stand up again!”

Image via Andrea North

Andrea North is a mom of two girls and owner of #SocialSchool4EDU, a company dedicated to helping schools celebrate their amazing students through social media.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “These two girls bounced out of bed, eager to take on the new school year, confident of what they were going to wear and how their hair was going to look.”

What actually happened: “I spent 10 minutes just trying to get them out of bed. Once they were out of bed and dressed, we discovered Aliya's dress was too short to go without shorts or leggings, so a frantic search for leggings that would match OK ensued. She was convinced the black ones wouldn't match, kept searching, but then I finally got her to try them on and look in the mirror, and she agreed to wear them. The girls wear the same size shoes, so there was then a huge argument about who was wearing what sandals. I'm always amazed at the older sister's negotiation skills to convince her sister to get her way.”

While putting the ponytail in Kyra's hair, there were tears of course because her hair is SO THICK! Aliya straightened her hair and ended up in tears because her hair was “too poofy.” She wanted to wet it down, but by this time we didn't have time to wet it down, dry it, straighten it, and still make the bus. I finally got her away from the mirror to the kitchen table for breakfast–in tears. As I told them hurry up for the 15th time, we spotted the bus coming over the bridge, meaning they had about two minutes to catch it. They rushed to brush their teeth (not for the required 2 minutes!), grabbed their glasses, and rushed out the door. And then I stopped them for this posed picture where they look relaxed and happy–I had to snap about five to get a good one! You don't even want to guess what I looked like on the other side of the camera!


Image via Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a freelance writer for parenting publications with a passion for writing about blended families.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “A fun day as a family at the local corn maze and apple orchard.”

What actually happened: “I was very sick, newly diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Psoriatic Arthritis. I couldn't walk through the apple orchard or complete the corn maze with my girls. I was still inching along with a cane after months of being bedridden.

“I chucked the cane out of the frame for this photo. My husband had to help me up and down every step and undulation in the terrain. We were crushed. Heartbroken. This was not part of our plan. Not only was I sick, but the medication they had me on to fight the disease stripped my body of folic acid, meaning we couldn't conceive a child. My diagnosis had stopped us from trying. What you see in this picture is the love that held us together through this tough time.”

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Image via Shabnam Samuel

Shabnam Samuel is the founder of a writers retreat in India called Panchgani Writers' Retreat.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “This picture was from a college friend's wedding in India. We were all 19. I look happy and thrilled.”

What actually happened: “I was envious and sad. She was marrying someone who lived in America, a land where I always wanted to be. As a Christian in a small town in India, where you were not allowed to date, I saw nothing in my future. I would never be allowed to marry someone who was not a Christian, and the men in our Christian community were few and far between. So, there I was sitting, pretending to be thrilled, but all I could think of was the lonely existence ahead of me.”

Image via Hastywords

Hastywords is an anxiety-driven over-analyzer with a mind full of rainbows and devils.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “It looks like my daughter and I are having the time of our [lives] together.”


What really happened: “In reality we were lying flat, spinning on a metal merry-go-round. It was hot, hot, hot, and the sun was super bright and blinding us. We wanted a selfie to remember the moment, but we nearly burned ourselves alive to get it! We were laughing because we were trying to hurry … fast, fast, fast.”

Image via Alice Seuffert

Alice Seuffert is an education researcher, television cook, blogger, and mom. She blogs about creative comfort food and her parenting adventures at Dining with Alice.

What it looks like happened in her picture: “Our family sat lovingly in the backyard under the stars, watching everyone's favorite movie, Frozen. My daughter sweetly dancing next to the screen.”

What actually happened: “I've wanted to have a backyard movie night since last summer. It took me over a year to get a functioning projector, proper cords to connect everything and display it, set up an online movie account, let alone convince my husband it was a good idea.

“Well, I forgot that the sun doesn't set until 8:30 (30 minutes past my kids' bedtime). The kids were crabby, they screamed and fought each other. We fed them takeout fried chicken and pizza (yes, both) for dinner. Dessert was a bowl of Chicago Mix and candies. I mistakenly told my husband I would like a fruit tree for Mother's Day, and so he immediately went to the garden store, bought the tree(s) and planted them (during the movie). My beautiful backyard family movie night was chaos 3/4 of the time.

“I shared a photo that represented the 1/4 of the beauty of that night. My daughter did sweetly dance along to the movie, and we sang along to our favorite songs. My son wanted me to zip him up in my sweatshirt like a kangaroo, and we watched the end of the movie like that, together snuggled up.

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“My husband and I enjoyed the first of summer's really great craft beers. The reality is we never really know the whole story behind everyone's photos. Most people tend to share the green pastures pictures because that is what they want to show others, but I think it's also what we want to remember about that moment. It's also important to share the vulnerable pictures, the pictures of real life. I recently shared a picture of my very ugly laundry situation, and you know what people said? ‘I'm glad I'm not the only one.'”

Stepping into — and sharing — what we know about Greener Grass Perception is one way to create a culture of kindness, which is a big part of Kindness Wins. Have you ever had a Green Grass Perception moment? Share it with me in the comments!

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What We Post on Social Media vs What Really Happened

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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