Two of my children were celebrating their birthday – despite being four years apart in age they were born on the same day! The day was drawing to a close, the takeaway pizza and garlic bread had been demolished and we were lighting candles on the birthday cake.
As I took photos to remember this occasion I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself: we were no Instagram family.
Our newest teenager, freshly sunburnt that day, held up bunny ears behind the head of her younger brother and birthday twin who was determined to get his new drone into the photo no matter what. He later tried to extinguish the candle on his cake using the drone too – particularly the uplift from launching into the air – which added at least another 20 seconds to the obligatory video of our rendition of happy birthday.
Another child doggedly avoided being included in the video and the others were a mix of tired preschool and school students adjusting to the start of the schooling year. Hubby too was tired, a long day of work and me, well I was in my ‘house clothes’ which is code for daggy clothes suitable for domestic chores, face devoid of makeup and dry shampoo in my hair.
We were a long way from the Insta-worthy depictions of immaculate houses, outfits and birthday shenanigans. But we were all present, engaged and enjoying ourselves.
Our video will never be uploaded to social media, because it has little value to others, but those memories have immense value to us. In short, it is genuine.
In a contemporary world where we are constantly marketed to by social media influencers, it is easy to overlook or discount the genuine in favour of the aesthetically pleasing, or virally hilarious. But being genuine in all aspects of our life will enrich both us, and those around us, much more significantly than any Instagram post will.
Being genuine means being sincere in all our dealings with others and not in a superficial way. We want to be truly present to others, this means diving beneath the surface of shallow socialising and being willing to make ourselves a little bit vulnerable.
It means being prepared to be completely and unreservedly ourself, accepting that this will showcase both our strengths and our weaknesses. It means coming to terms with our own our authenticity and providing a safe and genuine demeanour that invites those around us to embrace their authenticity too.
It means disconnecting from excessive social media pandering and preening, instead measuring ourselves in a sincere and concrete way that has nothing to do with how we present a sanitised and edited image for Instagram.
It means subscribing to Authentagram (yes, I did just make that up), and showcasing ourselves in a way that is honest, authentic, real and reasonable. In a way that is not motivated from a place of pride, vanity or unhealthy disinterest.
It means seeing ourselves, and those around us, in all their potential and creating an environment of openness and respect that allows all of us to flourish. It means sharing and connecting in a real and vibrant way.
And better yet, it doesn’t need a filter!
Written by Emily Shaw
Emily is a former ACPA award winning magazine editor. Emily shares 15 years of marriage with her husband, Ben, and is now stay at home mum of seven and freelance journalist. Emily’s work has been featured in a variety of media internationally, writing on all things faith, parenting and craft. She brings close to 20 years of experience in media — print, online and social — as well as several years in active youth ministry including three years as the Diocesan Coordinator.