Perception vs reality on the internet, everywhere

I was sitting on the couch reading The Missing when the nerdy exterminator guy was spraying around the house outside; Grandmama opted for sweeping the ants from under the rug on the outside porch. It wasn’t until I propped my right foot up on the homemade foot stool that I realized how this scene may look to an outsider: a millennial sitting on her ass, reading a book whilst her grandmother works to clean the front porch.

Perception vs. reality: the post I’ve struggled to write for a few years now, thrown at my face only after my realization that the grass is only greener on the side watered (and has a greener grass variety, not a grass duller than others even at its healthiest).

Had the exterminator caught a glimpse of us, he might have assumed I was lazy and hadn’t any place to rest my right foot upon that stool. My chronic pain dealings are invisible to most everyone, the extenuating work I did yesterday—moving things and vacuuming and sweeping and mopping—in preparation for his arrival non-existent for the most part. The excruciating pain I am in today: blind to him.

Having a blog is similar to this. Reality is similar to this, too, but I prefer to think most already understand not to assume things about others offline lest they want to feel like a fool with their pants on the ground when karma up and knocks them in the knees.

It’s easy to think we know how a fellow blogger’s life is, because it’s easy to think we know what is going on in each other’s lives just by perusing their blog archives and reading a few social media posts. However, if we took a closer look from afar, we’d see things clearer: those Pinterest-perfect photos require early morning hours tho acquire; that gymholic has struggled to get to this point of confidence and comfortability; the out and unapologetic autistic low-key lives her life ashamed and terrified because she’s autistic in a world that, for the most part, doesn’t want her.

Paraphrasing Melissa Cassera, we’re selling a lifestyle. We’re not going to include everything all the time, not that we owe anyone anything at all. It’s enticing, what we’re doing—so it’s super easy to give off the impression that we’re sharing everything about ourselves when we’re not.

The perception is the assumption that we’re this and that, but don’t forget to consider your perception may be farther from reality than you’d rather.

Don’t forget the blogger is still a flawed human like yourself.

Don’t forget to water your own grass.


In some ways, this reminds me of “2 Truths, 1 Lie”, a game wherein one teller tells three things about themselves and the players have to figure out which is the lie. I found it flawed because people evolve over time, but in the moment it’s played, the point of the game holds: it’s easy to assume we know something about a person, but when forced to figure out which is a lie (or not the whole truth), it’s hard.

So sure, there may be a blogger out there posting loads of great photos on all her channels, but the lie by omission is that she’s batching her photo-taking, using a friend’s camera, and is struggling to find a way to figure out how to tell her boyfriend she’s gay in an environment where it’s not accepted to be such.

Don’t hold against us what we don’t share because we don’t share it—we have our reasons.

And please, for the love of humanity, let’s stop assuming we know what other people are dealing with/experiencing/feeling/etc. and passing our perception off as fact; it reveals an uncanny character.

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Edel’s gravatar

These days I’ve pretty careful to take social media with a grain of salt. I assume everything is carefully curated to show the best aspects of someone’s life or try to put on a positive spin on the not so best aspects. There are some rare people who unabashedly air their dirty laundry to everyone but even then, everyone will perceive that differently. It’s hard to be authentic and vulnerable.

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Liz’s gravatar

Yeah. :/ There are some things assumed about me/my life based on what I post, both by family and strangers, the latter of which is to the point of near defamation (and sort of the point for this post).

I try to not censor too much, but there are some things I cannot discuss for safety purposes (both mine and that of minors’). But I consider myself reserved/a private person and the center of my being, because I don’t share everything (and there are things I’m sitting on and may share later, when it’s safer).

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Jamie’s gravatar

I think a lot of people tend to forget that the way people seem on blogs (and by extension social media) is only a small piece of their lives. I’ve watched a few close friends break down in jealousy over their friends seeming happy on social media and it’s so hard to explain. People pick and choose the best pictures and videos to upload, people tend to share their happiest moments, or at least the moments that look good when in reality it might not be so.

It’s because of assumptions and possible harassment that I am cautious about what I post. I just feel uncomfortable posting more personal information or about the things that I struggle with for fear of backlash, because it comes no matter how well you’re doing.

Great discussion piece! Don’t worry about the haters, you’re a great person Liz.

Also Pants on the Ground.. 😆 That was my first time seeing that.

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[…] returned. I don’t want to be forgotten or a person anyone is ashamed of for any reason. But I can’t control the way people perceive me. I can only hope their perception of me is a positive one. I want to people to just care before […]

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