Jessica Ryan
Jessica Ryan

Over the weekend, I received some amazingly wonderful news, and I couldn't wait to tell everyone.

So, naturally, I blasted it out on social media. The likes, comments and even text messages came flooding in, and I was so happy to see other people sharing in my excitement.

This week, as I've been spending time with people IRL (in real life), I still find myself saying "Did you hear about my good news?" And while some people hadn't, most had already seen my (admittedly way-too-many) posts about it— and the excitement was a little less exciting.

Generally, I love social media. It gives me a way to keep in touch with people who live far away, a place to share fun and interesting things I find online, and to digitally document my life as it continues on. I've made countless friends on social media, and it makes up a huge part of my professional life.

But lately I've found myself wondering: when we put our entire lives online, what do we talk about in real life?

And furthermore — we aren't actually putting everything online, are we? Aside from huge life events, the social media "rules" we've generated say we shouldn't post negative things, so our digital lives end up looking positive almost all the time.

There's this Portlandia scene I love: Fred Armisen's character says "Everyone on the internet? They're not having as great a time as you think they are," and Carrie Brownstein's character responds, "I guess people are just cropping out all the sadness."


The rules we've started applying to our digital lives seem to be seeping into the real world, too. Lately I've caught myself apologizing for telling some of my closest friends about challenges I'm facing or hard times I've gone through, and I've noticed them doing the same thing. "I'm sorry for being annoying," we all say. "I don't mean to be a downer."

"You're not being a downer," we say to each other. "You're being real."

Whether it's looking for a job, wanting a boyfriend, or just trying to be a happier person, I often hear people tell each other, "fake it 'til you make it." And while that might be good advice, if we apply it to every part of our lives — digital and IRL — doesn't that just make us fake?

Our real-world interactions are limited on the positive side by social media oversharing, and on the negative by digital rules suddenly applying to analog life. It's time we stop saying "I know, I saw it on Instagram" and start saying "That's so great!" And it's time to stop cropping out our sadness, and start being real IRL.

Jess Ryan is a community manager and CU grad. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan