What is a picture? It is a moment in time that someone is trying to capture. Someone is usually trying to get you to smile, telling you to say “cheese” or being silly to get you to look happy. If someone isn’t smiling it is often referred to as a bad picture and gets deleted or will take 10 pictures to make sure there is a “good one”. Sometimes people really are happy and may even ask for the picture to be taken. Other times you smile because you feel obligated or want to look good for the picture.

People see these pictures get posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, shown on someone’s phone, in newspapers, magazine’s or if they are really lucky an actual printed picture. These are usually the “good pictures”, of them smiling, being silly and having fun. The crazy part is that it is such a small fraction of a second of your life but others will judge how a person is doing based on how they look in that picture. Social media is a great way for a person to get positive comments and feedback. How often though do people post pictures of them hurting, crying or angry? How often do they even post bad things about themselves unless someone has died, something significantly bad has happened or they are truly open and honest about themselves. There are not many people that open themselves up to let the world know how they are doing on a daily basis.

Sadly pictures, especially on social media is now how we know other people the best and even feel that we can vouch for how others are doing in their lives because of it. It isn’t with bad intentions that we do this. Even twenty years ago you wouldn’t even think of responding about how someone was doing based on a picture they saw of someone without having a conversation with them first.

Now that social media is the norm and the easiest way to connect with people it is also the fastest way misread situations and sometimes judge others. The worst part is that it has caused people to forget to check in and talk to each other about how they are doing. More than the casual walking by someone and saying “Hi, how are you?” where everyone usually answers “good” because often times people don’t even wait to hear the answer if it was different than “good.” This has somehow turned into a polite norm rather than honest communication. It’s difficult and often awkward when this is the only in person contact people have with others because if they aren’t doing good how do they respond. You don’t really want to say “good” because you aren’t but don’t want to say bad because there isn’t usually time to elaborate. This is where an answer like “Living the dream” comes in handy.

So why do people try to portray such happiness and positivity if things are so bad? It’s more likely that it is nice to have some positive moments to post than that they are trying to portray something fake or innacurate.

I know when I am not having good times in life I still want my kids and family to remember good fun things rather than their mom, wife, family and friend is hurting all the time. It’s trying to find the best mix of sharing with others what’s happening and even the bad times so they know just how bad things can be. This leads to trying to decide to share with others or only the ones that live with you.

Next time, before you assume you know how you think people are doing by looking at a picture that instead if you are wondering how they are doing pick up your phone and give them a call or ask to meet in person. Remember a picture isn’t always as it appears.

It is great that everyone is able to stay in touch this way however people are losing something by only connecting through social media. People will often determine how a person is doing based on the photos they see. These photos where someone is telling them to smile.