It seems to me that people my age and younger are living life for the lens. Whenever I get on Instagram, things are perfectly posed and arranged so that their life seems, well, perfect. Recently, I got on and saw that a young woman I knew was on a second honeymoon in Europe with her husband. Let me tell you about my honeymoon: My husband had been home from his mission for three months and really wanted to pay for the majority of it himself. He had been working for a demolition company and campaigning for a state senator, so he was not making anything. He bought my wedding bands, but not my ring, and the wedding bands pretty much bankrupt him (joking, but they took out a lot of what he had earned). So, we honeymooned in LA and stayed in an Extended Stay America. Yes, an Extended Stay America. It was awful. But we had a great time, regardless. He went crazy and bought us Disneyland tickets. We went to the beach. We read books in the Barnes and Noble. We saw “The Giver” (but almost didn’t because tickets were 9 bucks each and that seemed really spendy). We made pancakes and drank rootbeer in our hotel room because our hotel room had a kitchen in it so, as my husband said, “We can make our own meals and save money!” ( Just what I wanted.) The shower had a little bit of mold in it, and my husband begged me to let him go ask the front desk to change our room, but I was too embarrassed by how embarrassed he was to let him. It was not glamorous, in any sense, but I fell more in love with this self-providing man than I ever had.
There’s a lot of trends on Instagram that I worry people think are real: The endless European travel. The ever-changing fashion. The thigh gap with big boobs. The large diamond ring on a student budget. I look at these things and wonder, how many young women believe this is the ideal? Sure, there are some people who truly can afford those things, but most of us cannot—neither is worse nor better than the other. If I were concerned with Instagram coolness, I would never post, because my life is beautifully ordinary. In fact, I recently deleted Instagram from my phone because I noticed that I had begun thinking of things in captions and likes. I was stressed about what should be posted to stories and what should be posted to my page. I noticed I spent so much time on Instagram trying to stay up-to-date, that I wasn’t paying attention to my own life and the adorable baby boy I was raising. Of all things, I wanted him to know that he matters more to me than any screen. But my brain is literally hardwired to think in terms of Instagram. At a family Christmas party, my baby boy was loving interacting with his great-grandma, and as I snapped pictures, I was trying to think of what I could say that would be witty and smart. Then I remembered I was taking a break from Instagram, and I had to figure out how, instead, to just enjoy this precious moment we were having as four generations of family.
My concern is that if you live life simply for the lens, how many extraordinary ordinary moments are you missing out on? Do you refuse invitations to things because they are not cool enough? Do you only go places to get the shot? Do you struggle living in the real world because you’re constantly wishing for someone else’s perfectly framed life? The life we live on social media platforms is not real life, and it is so very unimportant. What is important are the people around you. Your friends, your family, and those who you have the opportunity to uplift every day. When was the last time you sat and chatted with an older relative without incessantly checking your phone? Have you ever just shut off your phone and talked to your friends about anything other than what’s on social media? These may seem like novel ideas, but they’re what real relationships are founded on.
President Uctdorf said that when we give others control over our own happiness, “We are driven about by every wind of opinion—and in this day of ever-present social media, those winds blow at hurricane intensity. Dear sisters, why should you surrender your happiness to someone, or a group of someones, who cares very little about you or your happiness?” There are some who follow you who care about your happiness, but most do not. Do not let the likes and the comments determine your happiness and your life. Create your own happiness by treasuring your imperfect, beautiful, real-life life.