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Don't 'whitewash' on social media — show us your true self

There's this thing called 'whitewashing' I recently read about. At first, I assumed the article was talking race. Certain Hollywood films will use white actors for non-white parts — that's whitewashing. But the article was talking about the whitewashing we do on social media. This type of whitewashing is something we are all guilty of ... and we can't stop it.

The iceberg

I know you have seen this picture before. It's been used to explain hard work or how we only see part of the big picture. The latter is what we use on social media. I recently got a new job, and I posted about it all over my social media. From Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, I celebrated my excitement about this new adventure. But that's just the tip.

I didn't mention the other 10 jobs I've applied t, or how this job may test my marriage.

I don't mention when I go through a difficult day with my depression or how I still struggle with the death of family members.

This is whitewashing. We clean and purify our social media posts. We don't talk about how we stopped working out after we bragged about it two weeks ago. We never mention all the failed attempts. But we need to talk about it.

Effect on society

Time magazine did a story titled We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones by Markham Heid in their Nov. 6, 2017, edition. They talked about how youth being constantly connected may have a correlation with higher depression and suicide rates. A study cited mentioned that "among kids who used devices five or more hours a day, 48 percent had at least one suicide-related outcome." Being on their devices is just the tip of the iceberg.

The teen Time interviewed had no idea why she was depressed. However, every night before she would go to bed she would scroll through models on Instagram. Filtered and staged photos were what this young girl viewed as reality. Because they are staged, our brains view them as advertisements. But instead of selling their products, which some successfully do, they sell us their life.

We find our lives without value. We find that we don't have a rocking body or perfect tan lines. We feel adequate, at best. But being adequate isn't good enough. So, we doctor some photos and flip our hair to the right side. We stage a photo so it looks better. Then we post it.

Being true

I don't have a fair life. No one does. But I talk about it openly. I have depression, I'm not always healthy about my meal choices, and polycystic ovary syndrome causes me to wax my chin every week. Not talking about those issues makes them taboo or forbidden. And that's where the issue really lies.

Post fun photos and talk about the wonderful things happening in life. But don't hide failures. As a society, we need to change the narrative about struggles. We need to talk.

As always, be kind.

Editor’s note: Ashley Bettenhausen graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics. Minnesota girl turned North Dakotan, Ashley is sharing her love of agriculture and life through her blog, North Dakota Farmers Wife. This is printed with permission from her blog which you can follow at ndfarmerswife.com

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