On Being Honest on the Internet

April 29, 2013
You guys know I totally wouldn’t lie to you, right?

I mean, I’m scared to death of a lot of things. But telling the truth, even if it makes me look really bad in the process, isn’t one of those things.

I will totally tell you that I’m bad at talking to boys. And I don’t know how lipstick works. And that I have been known to replace my meals with pie.

And you all know that if I do something really stupid, but I think it will make for a super funny story, I will totally tell you, right?

Plus, I’m always posting photos of myself like this on my blog:

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And this:

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And this:

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So that’s got to count for something in the honesty department, right?

But after reading this post last week and this post this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the ways I’m maybe not so honest on the Internets.

While I usually have no problem coming clean about the not so pretty truths of my life on my blog, I am more than a bit guilty of sugar-coating the daily details of my life on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

For example, last week, I posted this photo on my Facebook page with the caption “Just another day on the farm…”:

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Like, ho hum, look at me, just hanging out in PARADISE where cows quietly munch on grass and sunbeams follow me around wherever I go.

What you can’t see in this photo is all the piles of manure I had to crop out.

Which, I guess when you think about it, is kind of a metaphor for a lot of what I do on the Internet.

I crop out the shit, so to speak.

It’s not lying, exactly.

It’s just cutting out the negatives to focus on the positives.

Even when I’m not feeling particularly positive.

And while I don’t want to be dishonest, I also don’t want to be that person. You know, the one who’s always complaining in her Facebook status updates about her job or the weather or the fact that it’s Monday.

Even though I suspect that in real life I’m totally that person. Because, seriously, you guys, what’s the deal with Mondays? I mean, nobody likes them, so why won’t they just go away already?

Totally THAT person.

Totally THAT person.

I also do a lot of cutting out the mundane bits of my life.

Like, the fact that I pack the exact same lunch for myself almost every single day: a turkey sandwich, carrot sticks, hummus and mini-pretzels.

And the fact that I wear the same outfit almost every single Wednesday.

And the fact that I drink more herbal tea than alcohol these days.

Sure, you can go ahead and think I’m some spontaneous, boozy, world traveler person, but I’m actually your typical seventy-year-old, school librarian. You know, the one who wears holiday-themed cardigans covered in cat hair and doesn’t know how to work the VCR.

I AM HER.

SHE IS ME.

WE ARE ONE.

Holiday themed sweater? Check.

Holiday themed sweater? Check.

Lately, though, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to crop out the proverbial manure.

You see, ever since I moved home I’ve been dealing with depression.

I know a lot of this has had to do with the stress of moving home and starting a new job and a new life and not really having much of a social circle.

But I also know that depression can hit you wherever you are or whatever job you happen to be working or not working or however many friends you happen to have or not have.

I’ve dealt with depression off and on for years. I’ve even talked about it on my blog before. Admittedly, I don’t talk about it as much as I talk about bacon or unicorns or cuddly kitty cats. Because talking about my depression doesn’t make me feel better. It just makes me feel worse. Talking about cuddly kitty cats, though, that’s a different story.

Hello, happiness.

Hello, happiness.

I certainly don’t talk about my struggle with depression on social media. I mean, I’m not going around posting photos of dead flowers on Instagram with captions like, “These are my FEELINGS. Gahh!” Or leaving Facebook status updates like: “Hey, guys! Finding it really hard to get out of bed today! LOL. Depression is such a STUPID JERK FACE, amirite or AMIRITE?”

Does this make me dishonest?

Probably.

But, frankly, there’s this part of me that hopes that if I can just delete depression from my Facebook status updates and my Twitter feed, then maybe I can just delete it from my life once and for all.

Just like how I can leave out the Mondays and the mundane bits and the mini-pretzels.

Well, not all the mini-pretzels.

I do kind of like the mini-pretzels.

Are you honest on the Internet? Come on, be honest.
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I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On April 29, 2013 at 8:03 am Katja said:

    Am I honest on the internet? No, not entirely. Like you, I find that talking about the bad things drags me down. So I don’t. Sure, they crop up every so often, but I prefer (and always have done) to deal with my own problems in my own way and, for me, that means steering away from misery for fear that it’ll bring all its friends along with it for a pity party. Far better to head off on a train trip up a volcano and sit in silence, drinking in beautiful scenery until there isn’t any more room for the misery to get in, or to write cheery updates so often that one day you realise that, far from being dishonest, they’ve become true.

    Katja: cropping out the shit on the internet since 2004.
    Katja recently posted..Sinners and Saints in Siracusa

  2. On April 29, 2013 at 8:29 am Val Hamer said:

    Katja, I love this line:

    Far better to head off on a train trip up a volcano and sit in silence, drinking in beautiful scenery until there isn’t any more room for the misery to get in …

    Sally – I tend not to be 100% honest on FB or my blog – partly because I don’t like to deal with things that way, and also because you never know who is reading it!

    I appreciate you sharing your feelings about depression.

  3. On April 29, 2013 at 8:41 am Maria said:

    I’m definitely in the same boat.
    I’m actually still finding my voice in my blog but for my Facebook, overall, I stay away from the negative posts. I think part of it is being an introvert. I share bummer stuff with a close few but everyone certainly does not need to know my business. And, it bums me out to see friends posting negative stuff, I feel for them but after awhile it’s draining too. I’d prefer to not add to it.

    P.S. I went on a solo adventure and even sketched in a food court, which got me odd looks. I thought about you writing about being weird in Asia though and survived. Sketch turned out awful and no cheese but all was well. 🙂
    Maria recently posted..Ayutthaya

  4. On April 29, 2013 at 9:06 am Deedee said:

    As honest as my blog is, I leave some parts out, too. I’m struggling with a monster myself – one does not get to weigh nearly 300 pounds because she is happy, well-adjusted, and subsisting on a steady diet of steamed broccoli and broiled chicken. There are some things in my blog that hurt to write about, and I try and sugarcoat them with humor and a dose of “but I’m totally over that, ha ha ha, isn’t it funny how damaging our childhoods can be hardy-har-har” – but the truth is that some things are too dark to bring up to the general reading public, and as such I keep those things hidden from view and try to work around them by addressing other things that help me address them in a roundabout way. Does that make sense?

    Anyway. If you feel comfortable writing about your depression, then by all means – write about it. If you don’t feel comfortable writing about it, then don’t. It doesn’t make you dishonest. It doesn’t make you a liar by omission. It’s completely up to you what kind of blog you want this to be, and if you choose not to broach the topic, then that’s your right, as much as it is to not write about it.

    Choosing to leave out personal feelings and sensitive information is not a matter of honesty, and is not a measure of your integrity as a writer or a person.

    I’ll still read your blog, no matter what. 🙂
    Deedee recently posted..Baby Steps…and Food.

  5. On April 29, 2013 at 9:11 am Jenny said:

    I am MOSTLY honest on the internets. But like you I edit the mundane and crappy stuff out. Because I don’t want to be that person who uses twitter like a moan box. But at the same time I do think it’s important that people talk about depression so that it becomes normalised. But again I haven’t done so on my blog because it feels like a post where I write “stayed in bed most of today – blurgh today” wouldn’t be too interesting for my readers.
    Jenny recently posted..An Australian Easter

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm Sally said:

      Totally agree. I think that’s why bloggers like The Bloggess are so important — they normalize all the stuff that makes you think you must be crazy.

  6. On April 29, 2013 at 9:14 am Selly said:

    This post is hitting home these days. I tried to photoshop and crop my life for a while but when you’re dealing with real life things that seem too daunting to even contemplate even that get’s tiring because you’re perpetually showing a happy-go-lucky side of yourself that you possibly can’t even relate to at that moment in time. For me, it got too tiring after a while so I stayed away altogether. Then again, when real life gets the better of you, it’s also nice to share pretty and happy things in hope that all that will make you feel better. I don’t really know into which category I personally fall but I probably mix and match.

    I do truly appreciate your post and that you took the opportunity to discuss something very important, namely how we present ourselves online where it can be all too easy just to let go and whine because we don’t actually have to show our face if we don’t want to. Funnily enough though even that doesn’t stop us from wanting to show our best side and be funny, charming, interesting and just downright amazing.

  7. On April 29, 2013 at 9:26 am Alice Anne said:

    Hi,
    First time to the blog. You hit on something I have been trying to puzzle out or maybe balance for a long time and especially in the past month, in which I have been more active on FB than ever before. I completely believe in “being positive” and I also completely believe that denial doesn’t work. I hate whining (especially when I realize I am doing it) and I also hate “aren’t these the greenest peas!” (family reference, but I think it explains itself). I haven’t come up with a clear “solution” or when being upbeat slips into denial. For one thing, I think it may that it changes. I have come up with a couple thoughts. One, I don’t get to tell someone else “they are lucky to have the opportunity to get their priorities in order” when she is about to have a mastectomy.(One of my aunts actually said that to my mom.) Two, when the pile of sweepings under the rug start to trip me, it is time to find a way to clear them out–and it probably will involve looking at them. It sounds to me like you are in a place a bit like that. And sympathies and encouragement on the depression issue. I’ve been there. Seek out help if you need it. Moving is a huge trauma. Losing a loved one or divorce are about the only things that trump it, according to something I read years ago, and that includes moving across the street, let alone across the world. Take care of you! (another family quote;-)) -Alice Anne (tries-to-be-brave)

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm Sally said:

      I didn’t know moving was considered so traumatic. But that makes sense. This past move HAS been hard for me — much harder than I thought it would be and that’s mostly because I’ve moved so much I figured one more move wouldn’t be so hard. But I think coming home has made me face lots of things I didn’t have to think about when I was living overseas — family dramas, financial stuff, worky stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s GOOD I’m facing these things. I NEEDED to face these things. But it’s HARD.
      And, thanks, for the support & stopping by. I do hope you’ll be back!

  8. On April 29, 2013 at 9:31 am Marta said:

    I don’t really know what to say. But I feel like I should say something. Ten Awesome Years are an outcome of a quarter-life crisis, breaking up a painful relationship, being unemployed and not leaving my bed for a week and eatinig mostly Deprim. Now it’s much better. I made a decision to make my next ten years awesome, no matter what and suddenly things got back where they belong.

    Maybe you should hit the road again? Did you look for a professional help? Depression is a bad chemistry in your brain. This, and the fact that it’s so common these days doesn’t make it any less painful, but there are ways, different for everybody, to change it.

    Don’t feel bad about not being honest on Internet. Too much honesty on the Internet will do you no good.

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm Sally said:

      I have thought about moving overseas again — but then again that’s kind of been my cure-all for depression/boredom/burn out/what-have-you for the last ten years. “Hey, you’re depressed! Let’s backpack around SE Asia for a year! Who can be depressed while living in paradise?” (Answer: me.) Maybe I should try, Idon’tknow, facing the problem for once?

  9. On April 29, 2013 at 9:34 am Heather said:

    I think I’m a lot like you — I try to post the positives online and minimize sharing the negatives, even though I have been so stressed with all of the life changes I’ve experienced in the last few years. Even good stress is still stress, and it’s been a mixed bag. I don’t want to come across as ungrateful for what I have, but I also try to normalize feeling stressed and the process of being in transition when I talk to folks in person. I posted a link to this image on transition theory on my blog way back in the beginning and I had to dig it out recently to share with someone.

    I’m sorry you encounter and struggle with depression sometimes. I’ve found that quite a few bloggers I know do as well. It’s good to know we’re not alone with the struggles and transitions. <3

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm Sally said:

      Yes, it does seem like a lot of bloggers experience depression. I wonder if it’s something about the writer/artistic brain or if they experience depression just as much as everybody else but are more apt to talk about it?

  10. On April 29, 2013 at 11:18 am cosmoHallitan said:

    I think most of us edit ourselves for public consumption. Some people may do this a little too much and get caught up in their online persona. I try to be honest, but like you, I don’t want to come across as the girl who complains about crap all the time. And I don’t feel the need to share that many days, I’m sitting in my apartment in sweatpants reading about other people’s exciting lives online. But I’m also not one to share too much personal stuff in general. Heck, I don’t even share my real identity online! (I’m not actually a ferret, shocking I know.)

  11. On April 29, 2013 at 11:33 am Kerry said:

    I don’t think it’s being dishonest! If you’re depressed and something is making you more depressed I’m pretty sure it’s OK not to do that thing!

    Also, for me there’s something to be said for, I don’t know, telling the story you want to tell? Like, I think if I shared too much my readers (all six of them) would just get bored (the ones that aren’t my mom, of course). A blog isn’t supposed to be a RECORD OF EVERYTHING I HAVE DONE EVER, it’s a storytelling form. And editing the mundane parts out is a good part of storytelling. (Not necessarily the bad parts – but the mundane parts.)

    I agree that social pressure is hard and it’s really easy to do on the internet! “Ha ha look at my great life yeah!”

    I’m really sorry to hear about your health issues, by the way, depression is seriously shit. 🙁
    Kerry recently posted..Hawksmoor Meat Feast at London Guildhall

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Kerry. I definitely agree that there are plenty of things that warrant being left out on the Internet (and kind of wish all my Facebook friends would agree to this — I mean, seriously, we all need to stop talking about our kid’s poop, okay?) But it does become hard when that thing is kind of taking over your life and you’re still not talking about it (which I guess you could use an argument for parent’s talking about their kid’s poop — if it’s all they think about, why not talk about it?).

  12. On April 29, 2013 at 11:41 am Priya said:

    I’m definitely not nearly as honest as you are my dear. I mean, you keeps it reals.
    Sometimes I’m afraid to be really honest. There were about twenty posts I could have written regarding my last job, and a lot of it had to do with my personal depression and not fitting in and how it affected me in a way I didn’t think it would. Seriously, I felt like the weird kid who had to eat her lunch in the bathroom. ( Though I would never do that because that’s gross.) And the commute was long and bit of a cultural shock, too. However, as much as I wanted to write about all the awful these I felt, I’m always hesitant when I write about work-related things.I don’t know if there’s like a blogosphere. I’m still very new to this world.
    I didn’t write about these these but I felt it. A lot. I guess sometimes we have to just tell it like it is. And sometimes it’s not sugarcoated with unicorns and flowers, and you have tell the world this is who I am and this is how I feel during this moment– either embrace it with me or shut up.
    Priya recently posted..Kick ‘Em To The Curb

    • On April 29, 2013 at 11:44 am Priya said:

      I meant a rule in the blogosphere*
      Priya recently posted..Kick ‘Em To The Curb

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm Sally said:

      I think the honesty thing definitely comes with time. When I first started my blog, I was all sunshine and rainbows and “LIFE IN JAPAN IS AWESOME!” The more I blog, the more honest I get. But also the more worried I get about disclosing too much — especially as my readership has grown. For example, I used to write a lot more about my family and friends and post their photos — I don’t really do that now (unless they’re fellow bloggers and wouldn’t really mind me sharing their details with the rest of the world). So it is kind of a strange balance between trying to be honest and trying not to tell too much and invading other people’s privacy.

  13. On April 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm Sarah Somewhere said:

    Beautiful! There’s honesty, and then there’s airing dirty laundry, there’s humility, then there’s capitalizing on pain and grief for hits. It’s a fine line, (one I think you walk very well, I might add), and one I am constantly trying to balance myself. Like you say, if it feels icky to write about something, then we shouldn’t do it. P.S You’re funny and I love your writing. Honest enough? 🙂
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..On Freedom

  14. On April 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm Mzuri said:

    I felt touched by your post, Sally, for your opening yourself up about feeling depressed. Thank you.

    As for some higher calling for “honesty” in social media (including blogging), as it pertains to personal disclosure, I believe this is a false value proposed by some, and I think what and how much we disclose about ourselves depends on our audience, our venue, the purpose of our communication, and our personalities.

    If I equate FB or twitter to face-to-face communication with a stranger or acquaintance, do I expect that stranger or acquaintance to disclose her innermost thoughts to me? I sure don’t. And do I expect a family member or close friend to share her intimate thoughts and experiences with me while we’re at a table with other people? No, I don’t.

    I don’t expect painters or photographers to jot notes about what they were wearing, how they felt, and what was going on in their lives at the moment they painted or snapped that photo, and include that information with the publication of their work. I don’t expect the New York Times reporter to share about how bummed he was about the argument he had with his girlfriend while he was trying to write his article.

    If a blogger or social media user chooses to open herself up to me, the reader, about her intimate self, then that’s a gift and I accept it as such.

    A beautiful way that social media *are* different from face-to-face, mainstream media outlets, or email communications is their ability to: 1) localize our world; 2) make the world accessible to those with disabilities in mobility or sight/hearing or income; and 3) to call out injustices, crimes, and emergencies as they happen in the world.

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm Sally said:

      Thanks for the comment, Mzuri. I do feel like our expectations of what bloggers will share with the world are different than our expectations of what, say, a NY Times reporter will share. One of the reasons people read blogs is because they want a personal story — I know that’s why I read blogs. And, honestly, I can say the more personal a blog is (to some extent), the more I tend to enjoy it. I would probably never read an impersonal post titled “Top 10 Things to do in Thailand.” But if someone wrote a post titled “Top 10 Things I Would Never Ever Do Again in Thailand Because I Hated Being in Jail”, I would TOTALLY read that.

  15. On April 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm Carmel said:

    I don’t think anyone really can be. I think we all try to, to a certain degree at least, spare each other’s feelings. Probably because we all know deep down inside that everyone deals with quite a bit of manure, so why would I add to your pile? I’m definitely not that honest. Of course, right now, I just write a food blog. But as much as it’s fine to share some, you’re probably never going to be totally honest (I like to save the real bat guano crazy for my husband and mom). Just remember that when someone else’s life on a blog or Facebook looks all sunshine and lollipops, they’re probably dealing with a lot of behind the scenes crap, too.

    PS–how many different ways could I say poop on this comment?
    Carmel recently posted..Thai Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Tofu

  16. On April 29, 2013 at 4:06 pm Mariah said:

    No, I am not always honest on the internet or in the way I portray myself to others. But I think it’s mostly because I am not always honest or sincere with myself. I like the cropped and edited version of me much better than the sloppy, double chinned version. I’ve been on the road for almost six weeks now, living a freebird lifestyle with no work or responsibility. Still, the other day I had a total meltdown for NO APPARENT REASON. No matter where you are in life there will be good and bad days. I think we need to embrace the humanness of ourselves and others. Personally, I’d like to see a picture with huge piles of cow shit in it! 😉
    Mariah recently posted..A Walk In The Woods

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm Sally said:

      “No matter where you are in life there will be good and bad days.” AGREED. But it’s so hard to explain that to people when you’re living in some tropical paradise and you’re whining and they’re all like, “But you’re LIVING IN A TROPICAL PARADISE!” Luckily, I don’t have that problem now that I’m living in Buffalo. When I whine now people kind of understand. 🙂

  17. On April 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm Rebecca said:

    First, you are not *required* to do anything on the Internet that you don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable doing. You are not required to make full disclosure about your life, ever.

    Having said that, hiding depression takes effort. Keeping any kind of secret takes effort. Being open can be freeing. The usual reason we hide things is because we are afraid of the opinions of others. There is a huge amount of freedom in letting go of that, and the consequences are not usually as bad as we expect them to be.

    Often, we find out that there are many more people who share our dilemmas than we realize. And it can be surprising who those people turn out to be.

    Next, if you are not already aware of http://thebloggess.com/, then I suggest you go there asap. She suffers from a variety of other disorders in addition to depression, and is open about them – sometimes seriously, sometimes humorously.

    I suffered from very deep depression for several years. I recently realized that my depression perfectly coincided with the time frame during which I smoked pot.

    I loved everything about smoking pot: the shared fun with friends, the way my cigarettes tasted after a joint, the relaxation. I smoked a lot of pot. And apparently, it was all my body chemistry needed to trigger a different emotional reaction. I never had a clue the two were related.

    Decades later, which was within the past couple of years, I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I was depressed – truly depressed, not just upset over some current situation. Because I still remembered how I constantly used to take my mental temperature – am I depressed, am I about to be depressed, am I coming out of this depression? – I tried to remember when I stopped doing that. And that’s when the I noticed the timing.

    I was one of the lucky ones. My depression was caused by something I was doing to myself and it went away when I stopped doing it. But it was every bit as deep and dark as if I’d been born with it. Over 30 years later, I remember it clearly.

    I know that there are many causes of depression, and some are related more to life issues rather than physical/chemical ones. But if there is any chance that yours is physically based, I hope you have explored the medications available to treat it. Check out Wil Wheaton on that topic:

    http://wilwheaton.net/2012/09/depression-lies/

    In my experience, it was possible to distract myself for short periods of time if I wasn’t already too deep into the hole of depression. That’s probably one of the reasons I was always taking my mental temperature. If I could feel it coming on, I would try to immerse myself in various activities, hoping if they lasted long enough, that the threat would be gone by the time I finished whatever I was doing. Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn’t.

    But I just want to finish by saying that I absolutely loved the comment above by the person who said she made the active decision to make the next ten years awesome.

    I have recently realized that there is SO very much more in life that I have control over. And I have been trying every single day to do at least something that brings me a little closer to my goals. Now, several months later, they are starting to seem doable rather than impossible – which I thought they actually were.

    So, seek help if you need it – there really is no reason not to. This is so very important, there may be things which can help you that you are not aware of.

    Put some effort into finding as many things you enjoy doing as you can find and do them as often as you can.

    Be selfish when you have to. Do what makes you happy and don’t force yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable…unless that makes you happy.

    I wish you the very best and hope to hear good things from you soon.

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm Sally said:

      Oh yes, I’m a huge fan of the Bloggess, and I think what she does on her blog is so important — especially because she reaches so many people.

  18. On April 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm All Things Jennifer said:

    This post made me love you even more!

    I’m right there with ya sister…and I have blogged about it in the past and The Big D does creep up in my social media posts sometimes, but…it depends on where my life is at the moment. Right now, I’ll be back out looking for jobs and although it’s out there to find, I probably won’t be bringing it up on All Things Jennifer.

    I do however know that reading other people who deal with the same things I have, really helps me so I TRY to be honest on the internet and in face to face discussions about my depression. Especially to know someone else KNOWS what it FEELS like. Why should I be sad? I have so many things to be happy about! Yeah, tell that to the perpetual sandbag that whacks me out of line and keeps me under the covers every so often.

    Also, being a very off the chart extrovert who suffers from depression is always an interesting conundrum…

    Sending happy thoughts of bacon and unicorns your way.

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm Sally said:

      I think there’s this perception that extroverted people are happy all the time, but it seems like some of the most extroverted, funny people I know suffer from depression. I guess it just goes to show you that there is always more than one side to everybody — even the super funny, outwardly happy people. And, thanks for all the bacon and unicorns. They are much appreciated!

  19. On April 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm Gillian @OneGiantStep said:

    Thanks for sharing Sally. Of course you needn’t share anything you don’t want to but it’s always nice to see all sides of a person to remind us that we’re all real people, with real struggles, and real lives. I hope you soon see yourself to the other side of this. Take care.
    Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..Monday Moment: Paharganj, New Dehli, India

    • On May 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm Sally said:

      Thank you, Gillian. I appreciate your comment, and, yes, it is nice to see all our cyber-friends are real people and not just super happy robots. 🙂

  20. On April 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm Sarah P | The Travel Spotlight said:

    Oh, I think social media has definitely made me play up the good and keep the bad hidden away!

    When people look at my FB page (before I shut it down!) they probably thought I was the happiest person in the world with such a great life! I’d only post happy things there (travel, celebrations, etc..). But there was so much going on underneath that no one knows about!

    Like how I stress about planning almost everything! How I’m anxious about every exam and every day in school. I guess I’m not honest because I only like ppl to see happy me & keep sad me hidden away!

    p.s. I totally pack /eat the same thing for lunch everyday. And what’s worse, I ACTUALLY LIKE IT!! So you’re not alone in this regard either!
    Sarah P | The Travel Spotlight recently posted..Travel Interludes: Fun travel reads

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:59 am Sally said:

      Ha ha, me too! I love my lunch! I’m so bored while packing it, but by the time lunch rolls around you’d think I’d never seen hummus and baby carrots before!

  21. On April 30, 2013 at 1:59 am Karen McCann said:

    A lovely, thoughtful post, Sally. Of course nobody on the Internet tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That’s not what it’s for. It’s for glimpses of the truth. And your post prompted a lot of interesting glimpses into what people are thinking about honesty and depression. I agree with Val that Katja had a wonderfully apt thought about it: “Far better to head off on a train trip up a volcano and sit in silence, drinking in beautiful scenery until there isn’t any more room for the misery to get in…” Train therapy isn’t always the answer. But it’s one answer. And thanks to Katja and Val – and you – a lot of us will be thinking about that next time we need to, as the Spanish put it, “reanimate ourselves.”

  22. On April 30, 2013 at 5:14 am deb dench said:

    sally, i agree with most everyone out there ( and you). i admit to being depressed at times, but try to focus on the positive. life sure is better now that i’ve found the right combination of meds and a good person to talk too. hope you’re managing your depression also. best wishes, deb

  23. On April 30, 2013 at 6:01 am Paul Farrugia (globalhelpswap) said:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for being just you! That’s why I love your blog. It’s not one of these blogs that is so polished and cropped! Stay true to yourself.

    I am honest on the internet. Probably too much. I get into huge debates on facebook!

    Take care,

    Paul
    Paul Farrugia (globalhelpswap) recently posted..Welcome to Planet Earth: an all inclusive planet

  24. On April 30, 2013 at 6:21 am Madhu Bhardwaj (@madconnection) said:

    Hello there.
    Girl, you are brave.
    Unbrave is just wrong.
    I think you are talking about at 50% people on internet. They do crop out the crap and leave out the details, bad photos and offensive stuff that may hurt others who know them in real life.
    It is odd, you can talk with complete honesty to complete strangers but have to edit and censor when you talk to people you actually know.
    Chin up!
    Madhu Bhardwaj (@madconnection) recently posted..Chicken as Baingan Bhartha

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:56 am Sally said:

      Oh, totally. I hardly ever talk about depression with my family or friends — they know about it, but it’s not something that I’m like, “Hey, so I’m depressed” unless they really ask me. And even though I don’t talk about it much on my blog, I do probably talk about it more on here than I do with them. I guess that’s probably not good.

  25. On April 30, 2013 at 9:24 am Kat said:

    I love this entry. We are all not completely honest, but that does not make us liars either. Just self censoring.
    Kat recently posted..Cherry Blossom Season

  26. On April 30, 2013 at 10:22 am Tamara said:

    As some more eloquently put it in their comments, social media is not reality. Those who believe it is are setting themselves up to feel bad much of the time. It’s not lying to edit out the mundane details of life in social media, it’s kindness and common sense. No one cares what any one else had for lunch, and streams of posts/tweets filled with negativity aren’t healthy for anyone. Social media can be used to focus on the positive, and it should. Those who use it as a forum for complaining may be seeking commiseration or comfort, but the Internet is not where we should be seeking. As bloggers, part of what we try to do is tell the stories and inspire others to get out and have their own REAL experiences. I love reading your posts. They are inspirational. Don’t even worry about the whole liar-pants issue. Keep being you and keep doing what you do!
    Tamara recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:54 am Sally said:

      Aww, thanks, Tamara. I’m glad you enjoy my posts. That’s really my main aim — to entertain people. And if it means I have to be a liar-pants sometimes, so be it!

  27. On April 30, 2013 at 11:31 am Cuz Katy said:

    I am soooo happy you are back on the continent that I live on, Sally!.. Knowing you are a day flight away is reassuring… Knowing that if we ever felt like meeting at Arni’s it would totally be do-able! And if you ever want a break from the cowpies in NY, come see the cowpies from Happy California Cows in sunny CA, they even smell different!… ~~Honestly~~

    ***Hugs***

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:53 am Sally said:

      Sun and different-smelling cowpies? Sounds fantastic! Must come visit you soon — until then see you in June! So looking forward to the reunion!

  28. On April 30, 2013 at 5:07 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    Wow, I am so proud of you right now I wish I could hug you! You have no clue how helpful this post will be to a lot of your readers!!! I think about this A LOT, because everyone always comments how positive and upbeat I am. Which I am and I’ve never felt depressed, but I do have ups and downs like every normal person and I hardly ever share my downs unless I’m trying to get the attention of a company I’m pissed at for screwing me over. I’m not sure how genuine that is…

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:52 am Sally said:

      I do definitely find myself gravitating to more positive, upbeat blogs — like yours. Even when I’m not feeling positive or upbeat, it’s just a nice way to take my mind off of stuff. So I guess that’s why I try to stay positive and upbeat, too. Even though I may not be feeling good, I want to still make other people feel good. It may not be genuine, but at least my intention is, right?

  29. On April 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm Jessica Pepe said:

    I usually gloss over the parts of my life that aren’t shiny and cheerful, because I tell myself no one would be interested in them. Which is fine on a case by case basis, but I think it ends up being unfair to the people I know online, because I’m unintentionally hiding things.

    There’s also the fact that it feels way safer to tell people about my 305 favorite ice cream shops then about my own insecurity or mistakes.
    Jessica Pepe recently posted..I can see Russia from my site!

  30. On May 1, 2013 at 11:09 am Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    Considering that most of us can’t even be honest with ourselves, how then can there be any expectation of honesty from others? I think we portray what we are comfortable with. Like the masks we all wear in public (and the net IS public), some are full on ski masks, some or more “Venice Masquerade” style … it depends on you and what you are comfortable with. Was spider man any less a hero for his mask? No. So no worries. No one expects that “here are my heart and guts” kind of honesty. Heck, we have Photoshoped a little too – you know that horrible orange construction cone ruining the prefect photo? It has to go! Is that dishonest or just an esthetics preference? Where do you draw the line?

    As for depression… that is brutal. And your brave for sharing. Take good care and be gentle with yourself. There is no shame in it. I think almost everyone at some time has their battle with it. Some of us more than once. You shall prevail as you have in the past. Positive action will help.
    Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..Montecristo Travels Poem #1

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:48 am Sally said:

      Thank you, Sonja! And, yes, I’ve been guilty of photoshopping a few orange construction cones (and people and other random things) out of photos.

  31. On May 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu said:

    Dearest Sally,

    Thank you for being brave and being honest. We all love you for both of those qualities.

    I’ve been quite overwhelmed by the response to the post I wrote about feeling lost and down, mostly by personal emails from people I’ve never met thanking me for writing honestly about what they saw as a shared human experience – everyone feels low at some point in the year and many of us suffer from depression at some point in our lives.

    More than anything, I was buoyed by their complete acceptance that what I had written about was OK to share, and I felt an enormous weight lift from me. I hope you will too.

    Fiona xx

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:46 am Sally said:

      I definitely did. As hard as it was to write and as many doubts as I had after publishing it, I’m so glad I did. And I’m so glad you posted your post — it gave me the courage to post my own!

  32. On May 2, 2013 at 2:32 am Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) said:

    I’ve been blogging for a little over a year, but I am still trying to find my voice. I don’t know how personal my blog should be (it’s mostly a travel blog), but when I do post something more personal, those are my most popular posts.

    You and I have something in common. I’m visiting Montecristo and his bipeds too–on June 5th!
    Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) recently posted..Philadelphia Phriday – Parc Brasserie, A Bit of Paris on Rittenhouse Square

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:44 am Sally said:

      I totally agree that the more personal the post, the more popular it is. Not only as a writer, but as a reader. I love the personal posts!

  33. On May 2, 2013 at 7:16 am Naomi said:

    Of course no-one is totally honest on the internet, we aren’t in real life either. I actually started my blog when I had hit the burnout wall at work and descended into a deep depression and although I wrote about it at the time, I didn’t wallow in it, more talked about how to survive it. Personally (and professionally, I am a doc after all!), acknowledging depression to yourself is half the battle, and sharing it with others is also helpful in the healing process. It kind of forces you to tackle it. And discover no one throws stones at you, but big warm offers of support.
    But that doesn’t mean everyone actually wants to hear about the really ugly stuff that happens when you get depressed, so you don’t have to feel bad about not sharing that! But if you can add your awesome wit to it, bring it on!!

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:44 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Naomi. While this post was hard to write, I do think it was my way to finally face the fact of what was happening. Until then I had just kind of brushed everything off as stress from my new job or moving home or hormones or whatever. But since writing this, things have gotten a lot better — although that might have something to do with all the travel and not working I’ve been doing, too!

  34. On May 3, 2013 at 12:35 am Sine said:

    You really hit it on the head (as always) – we all do the same, cropping out the shit. How much video footage do I have of four smiling and cute kids? Tons and tons. And how much video footage do I have of tantrum-throwing kids? None whatsoever. Even though, trust me, the actual real-time footage was much the opposite.

    Especially we writers do that cropping thing. You can so alter a story by focusing on one thing and not another. That’s the whole art of it. I will rant and rave while I’m standing in line at the post office, but when I write my cute little expat story about it, it will all come across as quaint and funny and I will come across so above it all, which is a total lie.

    I recently read a column in the NY Times by a writer who argued that you pretty much will never know what actually happened once you start writing about it, because in the end your writing will become more real to you than what actually happened. Or something to that effect. It was actually very confusing and I’m not sure I understood it all, but the essence of it was that we writers can tell a story any way we like and thereby make it true for the rest of the world, including ourselves.
    Sine recently posted..You Expect ME to do THAT?

  35. On May 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm Phil said:

    Depression is a stupid jerk face. Several years ago I struggled with anxiety and depression issues. But they largely went away when I started spending most of my time in West Africa. They’ve been replaced with a receding hairline and heartburn, but what are you gonna do? As far as sharing stuff on social media, when I think about it, I don’t share that many personal things, good or bad. I will share things that I think other people will find interesting, though. For example, if I see some goats in a tree. If you are experiencing depression and you don’t want to write about it because it makes you feel bad, that’s one thing. But don’t worry about annoying us with it – I’m pretty sure every one of your readers will appreciate your writing regardless of what you are talking about (see potato chips, couches, cookies, unicorns etc. 😉

  36. On May 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm Miss Britt said:

    I am, actually. And it’s not always easy, but it’s the only way I know how to be.

  37. On May 7, 2013 at 11:03 am Ofelia said:

    I’m honest about my financial struggles, my old car, my love of all things thrift, some of my personal relationships but then again I don’t write about the ex-husband, the job, the crazy and unstable family member and of course my kids individual or social life. But then again, I just did!!!!!?????

    There are certain things that I like to keep to myself and that doesn’t make it a lie; it makes it keeping a bit of personal info: personal!
    As always a great post.

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:27 am Sally said:

      Yeah, I try not to write too much about my family — except for maybe my mom and dad but they’ve come to expect that. I figure I’ve decided to make my life public on the Internet, but they haven’t, so I have to respect that.

  38. On May 11, 2013 at 1:35 am melanie - grlwithgumption said:

    Cropping out the shit. Fantastic.

    Speaking your truth (even the mundane, depressing bits) is difficult. People get judgy.

    When I read some of my first posts from Africa (the ones with all the rainbows and sunshine) I am so frustrated with my sugar-coated presentation of my reality. I hate that I wasn’t strong enough to write honestly. As if cropping out the shit would someone make it disappear. I’m glad I found the courage to write about my experience honestly. It means I get quite a bit more negative feedback (and that sucks) but I guess I would rather other people dislike me than to dislike myself (or a version of myself).

    Let’s hear it for manure! It isn’t pretty, but it can fertilize our own personal growth.
    melanie – grlwithgumption recently posted..the hiatus. an explanation

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:19 am Sally said:

      When I first started my blog in Japan, I was definitely all about the sunshine and rainbows, too. That was mostly because when I had lived in Japan previously all I did was write emails home about all the negative stuff — mostly because I found the negative stuff funny. And because I am kind of a sarcastic jerk. But then all my friends & family thought I was miserable all the time and when I told them I was moving back they were all like, “But you hated it there!”

  39. On May 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm Christy@SweetandSavoring said:

    Man, I wish I’d seen this two weeks ago! But…I’m glad I’m seeing it now, because me too! You’re always funny and entertaining, which I appreciate. I appreciate the honesty, too. How much to disclose online, on FB, on my blog, is always a conundrum, even more so when I’m actually feeling depressed. It’s a fine line. But I think most people that read blogs know they’re not getting the whole story. I mean, how would that even be possible?
    Anyway, not feeling particularly articulate at the moment, but thank you for posting this. Honesty & sharing & generally keeping it real seems to be a recurring theme for me lately.
    I hope things are getting better for you 🙂 (trying that whole “fake it till you make it” thing…)
    Christy@SweetandSavoring recently posted..Strawberry Basil Shortcakes + Revealing Imperfections

    • On May 18, 2013 at 11:03 am Sally said:

      Thank you, Christy. And, yes, things are definitely better. I’ve been traveling a lot — that always helps. As does lots of ice cream!

  40. On May 17, 2013 at 10:54 am Teresa said:

    I am you and you are me! Maybe its that dreaded disease some call menopause and I call DESTRUCTOR OF LIFE! It literally steals my life some days. If I am not traveling, writing about travel, or researching travel, I would just rather stay in my beautiful cloud bed all day. I find myself in a funk if I go too long without a trip (even a local outing to a favorite spot or someplace totally new). Sometimes I think I have a sort of combination Bi-Polar, Adult onset (or menopause induced) ADHD, and manic depression. I’m either very excited or very mellow. The only Rx for me is TRAVEL! Someday, you and I will take a glorious adventure together, you with cape, me with………….I don’t know, I haven’t got that far yet 🙂 THANK YOU for your honesty! I, too, can be accused of cropping out the negative and only bringing the camera focus on the positive. LOVE your descriptions of EVERYTHING-its like you went into my soul and pulled out words I didn’t know would express how I feel so eloquently. Can I just say I have a girl crush on you (and I am quite happily married) 🙂

    • On May 18, 2013 at 10:44 am Sally said:

      Aww, so glad you could relate to what I said here. I think it is just natural to crop out those bits of us that we don’t enjoy. I mean, if we don’t enjoy them how will the world enjoy them?

  41. On May 23, 2013 at 5:18 am high school study abroad said:

    I guess being a liar isn’t as bad when it comes to you. I enjoyed your pictures of truth and honesty. haha

  42. On May 29, 2013 at 5:34 am Diane said:

    I think a lot of people (non bloggers too) can relate to this and struggle with how real they want to be on the blog. One of my most real posts that resonated w/others was about being a lonely expat. Was it real? Hell yea. And reality comes with a healthy dose of the not so positive aspects of living abroad. Also, sometimes the “shit we crop out” is boring, or too personal, or not relevant or we’re just scared it’ll change someone’s opinion of us. That’s how I feel. Finding the balance of being the real you online is a tricky one, even when you’re not a blogger. Just knowing how much to share and where to draw that line depending on one’s comfort level. We all know “those people” that overshare or over-complain or over whatever, and for some it works. I think finding a happy medium is a work in progress for most. 😉 I enjoyed this post!

  43. On June 10, 2013 at 5:48 am Fem said:

    Good post, Sally. I recognize it. I sometimes feel like a liar when I read the happy posts on my blog. It also consumes lots of energy to write these, because generally, at the moment, that Happyhappy is not how I feel at all. It also frustrates me that some people take my blog, rather than my word for how I’m doing. (seriously, even good friends. It’s completely bizarre. I then feel whiny when I tell them how I actually feel, and they seem to disbelieve me, as I am so cheerful on my blog).
    At the same time: we don’t have to share every single thing about our lives, do we. It is OK to keep some things for ourselves.
    In a way, I would like to blog about it and be more honest, but then get stuck, as I am, at this point in any case, unable to write an awesome post like you just did, or like the Bloggess does.

    • On June 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm Sally said:

      I wouldn’t feel bad about writing about the nonhappy stuff. At least you’re honest about that stuff in real life. And that’s probably what counts the most.

  44. On June 15, 2013 at 2:31 am Ceri said:

    I think maintaining that balance of privacy between real life and the internet is important. I wouldn’t want ALL of me to be available to read about online because then there’s nothing special about meeting people face to face. And, hun, I don’t think you’re lying by not talking about your depression on the internet. I actually admire you for wanting to focus on the positive. When I suffered from a serious bout of depression, nothing seemed to be able to make me focus on any kind of positive so what you’re doing is really something amazing.
    Ceri recently posted..NY Bucket List: #1 – Visit Central Park

    • On June 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, lady. It was kind of hard to focus on the positive, and it ended up feeling forced a lot of times. But, now, I’m happy to say I’m in a super happy state and all the positivity coming from me is 100% natural.

  45. On September 26, 2013 at 7:29 am Hata Trbonja said:

    Hello!
    I just found your blog and I adore reading it. I found this post when it was hard for me to get off the couch. I just moved to France and have had a hard time with it. I also deal with depression off and on and have to force myself to get up some days. What helps you? How do you break through the fog? Thanks for your honesty. I was just thinking about writing a survival guide to this type of situation on my blog. Hang in there and don’t let the fog stay too long.
    Hata

    • On October 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm Sally said:

      Hi Hata,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your depression. I know how debilitating it can be — especially when you’re dealing with something like a big move. Honestly, the best things I’ve found that help me are exercise (which can be hard to do when you’re depressed) and socializing (again, kind of tricky when you can hardly muster up the courage to get off the couch) and, well, medication. I was hesitant to go the medication-route to be honest, but it really has helped. I went on medication shortly after writing this post, and, while I still experience ups and downs, I haven’t been having the monumental downs that I was experiencing earlier this year. So, if you haven’t done so already, I definitely recommend seeing a doctor and asking about medication — even something simple like birth control (if you’re a lady) can really help balance out your hormones and get you in a better place.

  46. On April 17, 2015 at 5:16 pm Rana said:

    It is such a right observation that we crop the bad parts when sharing something on social media. We shoot a well organised table with a laptop a cup of coffee and a cute book aside and crop the coffee split on the table when Instagram’ing. That was one thing I was thinking about recently.

    I sometimes find myself thinking, ‘How the hell everything runs SO smooth in their lives?’ It my not be dishonest to leave the shitty shits out but its not being honest either. Maybe it is about making empathy with their followers and think they wouldn’t want to see any negativity on their timeline. Do the ones bearing the risk of annoying the people get the best at the end or the ‘mainstream’ style of sharing, the sugarcoated one, is still winning? I Can’t tell.

    Great blog btw!

    • On April 18, 2015 at 11:30 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Rana! And thanks for the deep thoughts. It is always tempting to sugarcoat “shitty shits” as you call them. Shitty shits just aren’t very Instagrammable I guess.

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