The Facebook Version Versus The Real Life Version

I took a photo of my kids sitting on a picnic blanket today, smiling up at the camera, and immediately thought “Oh that’s lovely – I should put it on Facebook!”

The Facebook version of our day went something like this…

We’re just back from vacation, experiencing a heatwave (which basically means temperatures hit 70 – it’s Ireland), and the kids all slept till 8am. So far, so fabulous.

We played in the garden all morning, then we had lunch there, on a picnic blanket – hence the snapshot. After that, we laid out ingredients on the garden table to make homemade ice-pops to freeze for tomorrow, which was a lovely way to spend time with my two daughters while the baby napped peacefully in his cot.

Then some further mother-daughter bonding; the girls painted my nails, and I painted theirs.

After that, we made heart-shaped sandwiches from a recipe in my daughter’s cook-book, and brought them with us to the playground for a late afternoon picnic, while taking turns on the swings.

Then we stopped off to choose some fresh fruit and vegetables for tea, and headed home to the still warm garden for another outdoor meal. The perfect end to a perfect day.


Everything above is technically true, but this is the real story of the day – the bit that the photo on Facebook doesn’t tell…

The entire morning was spent squabbling; listening to squabbling and breaking up bouts of squabbling – mostly the two girls fighting over who should be the princess in the game and who should be the sister.

There was some serious foot-stomping when I refused to let them have yogurts two minutes before lunch was ready. The picnic itself was a big mess really – food squashed into the blanket, the toddler putting his feet into his horrified sisters’ plates, and more arguments over who got the biggest sandwich. My Facebook photograph captured one quiet, happy moment during an otherwise chaotic mealtime.

The homemade ice-pops, which sound good on paper, were really just bits of whatever we had in the refrigerator thrown into ice-pop holders: water, orange juice, grapes, and one lone strawberry.

The nail-varnish the girls put on me was all over the place, and because it was some kind of gel-based paint (why?), it took half an hour to clean off after they’d gone to bed. Of course, then I had to neatly reapply it, so that they wouldn’t be offended the following morning.

The heart-shaped sandwiches? They were heart-shaped in the recipe book, but our version; not so much. We basically spread jam on bread, cut it into triangles and strips, and rolled the strips.

The playground was fine, except for when my four-year-old came over crying, because a bigger girl had told her to get off the swing. I have never confronted another child on a playground, but my daughter was so upset, I felt I needed to do something. So I spoke to the child, gently but firmly, to say it’s nicer to take turns, and that we shouldn’t tell another child to get off the swing. It transpired that the girl had just asked for a turn, and my sensitive little four-year-old had misunderstood; she didn’t know how to deal with it. Lesson learned by me – no more jumping in.

Our grocery trip was just as you might imagine it to be with three tired, hungry kids, and our tea in the garden was plagued by two tenacious, over-sized flies, now deceased.

But you know what? It was a good day whichever way you look at it.

About the writer

Andrea Mara has three small kids, one tall husband and one office job. She writes at about being a parent, being a mother working outside the home, being a woman in the workplace. She’s just trying to keep her balance. Follow her tweets @office_mum or on Facebook.

From Around the Web


Inese 1 year ago

Thanks for post! I got thinking again this all Internet and publicity staff. I think both days are good and both way are enough good to share with your friends. My biggest worry that capturing life is not over real life, which sometimes need to be lived, not all the time fixed from best point of view.
I still love to share my life story with my friends who live in the other countries and don’t see me or my family every day, but I also love days without camera and without publicity.

Susan Hess 1 year ago


Tawny Knight 1 year ago

Well of course I only share the best of what’s happening in my life…I like to spread positive vibes not drama or self involved rants.

Lindsey Diana Bennight 1 year ago

I can’t exactly take a picture of the 18 month old sticking his hands in his diaper while he’s peeing then wiping his pee hand all over my couch… I usually just stick to the not so disgusting things… Or try to anyways!

Mary Wynne Forrest 1 year ago

I too like to share the insanity. The weirder it is, the more likely I am to share (fortunately my child excels at insanity.)

Crystal Kelley 1 year ago

I like to share the batshit craziness that is working from home with two kids. Rather than cry about it, I prefer to laugh. It’s my coping mechanism lol. I think the “real life” posts are far better than the fake.

Meredith Downs 1 year ago

No, ……………
Should I?! I suppose I couldn’t be fake if my life depended on it! I think that’s a good thing though,

Just My opinion! To each their own 😉

Carla Fontenot 1 year ago

Fabulous ! That was a perfect day. Your kids won’t remember the fighting but they will remember the time you spent with them. Just perfect.

Erica Haddad 1 year ago

I share it all on FB lol I don’t have anything near a picture perfect life and I don’t complain about everything on FB but I do post the good and bad

Jennifer Galvin 1 year ago

Just wAnt to say…..I love your page/blog. Omg your real, when I see a new story from you I get excited to read it!! Love it keep it up

Care 1 year ago

Tracy Hohler…You sound Awesome… Would love to have you as a friend…..I am so honest on FB sometimes that I know my friends probably say…. OH gosh.. Carrie is at it again… Most of them show me support and or just look on by my rantings…. But I feel the same way as You do.. It’s MY FACEBOOK and It’s my only outlet…. So I will post what I want…. LOOK ME UP TRACY

Christi Adrian-Monson 1 year ago

Personally, while 75% of my posts are the fun, loving, “happy” experiences of our day, that is mostly because those are the times I actually have the leisure to post. But when I do share my frustrations or helpless moments, it’s because I would rather vent to my friends & family who know me, who have been there, and who can talk me through the rough spots than to show those frustrations to my daughter.

Christi Adrian-Monson 1 year ago

Facebook is different for everybody. There is no need to judge one way or another. Essentially, you act on Facebook as you would at any gathering of family and friends… and depending on whether there are more family, friends or aquaintences at your social networking “party.” If you are someone who wears your heart on your sleeve, then you’ll do the same on FB. If you are more reserved and keep your “private life” to yourself, then you’ll do the same online. In the end, you are who you are and there is no shame in that. Those who call themselves your friends will still be your friends no matter what you post… because that’s you and they know that. If they don’t want to see it, they will do the same thing they would at a physical get together… walk away from (or, in the case of online socializing, scroll past) your “whining.” (Though I hate that descriptor… life is ups & downs and there is no shame in calling for help, support and sympathy when your down.) So, post what you like and be you.

Vanessa Janik 1 year ago

I try to keep my FB posts mostly positive or at least try to find something positive. It’s not being fake if you’re posting truth but there are plenty of personal things I don’t feel are appropriate to blast on the internet. It’s nice when we can relate to each other’s lives..the good & not so good but no one wants to constantly read others negativity/complaining.

Christine Alessandro Maggio 1 year ago

I complain about my kids all the time on FB lol

Lucy Imperial 1 year ago

I do, no time to do it other way :)

AleshaLee 1 year ago

I agree! So I just post what I want and they can infriend me or remove me from their feed. There is no need for those passive-aggressive posts about Negative Nellies or Pollyannas, if you know how to manage your Facebook account.

Sue Alley 1 year ago

No one wants to hear a whiner….I post positive things because that’s how I roll. I won’t have FB “friends” that complain all the time. No one has time for that!!!! Now blogs….they are quite different and people know that and expect it. <3

Katie Schmidt 1 year ago

Nope! I’m a hot mess, and all my friends know it! 😉

Shelby Shelby 1 year ago

My Facebook friends are people that actually know me . I can’t pretend to be something I’m not even if I wanted to! I share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Life with kids is hectic, but sharing more of the good news is only natural. That’s all you’ll remember down the road anyway. You don’t look back on a vacation and remember the squabbles, you remember the fun times!

Melissa Hargitt-Perisanidis 1 year ago

Hahahah, I know many people like this!!!

Vanessa Hahn 1 year ago

Yea I don’t want to see peoples drama, I have enough of my own. I’m sure other people feel the same way….so yes, I do only post my “Facebook” life. My real friends can hear my shitty day my Facebook friends can see my perfect daughter 😉

Chantal Granger 1 year ago

My life is choas and everyone knows it lol i say the good and the bad only thing that isnt shared is the relationship drama between hubby, family or “friends“

Jenn Sullivan 1 year ago

I only share real life. “Facebook” life doesn’t really exist for me. I have 3 sons and they drive me fucking nuts. I figure that someone else needs to help me find the humor in my crazy. If I post it, they comment and we all laugh.

Katherine 1 year ago

Me too! I’m hopeless at the “airbrushing” we’re supposed to do. My friends are generally genuine types too though not all as open as me which is fair enough!

Zoe Zarndt 1 year ago

I think any patent who reads the fb version of that day just automatically understands that there were constant squabbles and that heart shaped sandwiches only looked heart shaped through the eyes of a child. Of course that’s hours it went down. They’re kids. We assume there were ants at the picnic because, duh, it’s a picnic. I don’t think you are retired to share every negative detail in the name of honesty because anyone with more than one child knows the day was not perfect. Just like we know that the moments were perfect and that us why they were shared. Sometimes the perfect moments are what we have to focus on to help us laugh our way through the imperfect days :)

Colleen Cameron Enders-hinman 1 year ago

That is too damn funny!

Cara Walen 1 year ago

Personally, I can’t stand both ends of the spectrum, the fake modest posts, the look how thin/rich/popular/chic/fun I am posts, and I also can’t stand the overly negative ones too. That said, I try to be mostly positive. It’s not fake but I try to share the more upbeat stuff. I don’t need the world to know how much of a PITA I can be, or how I might obsess over things, nor do I need/want people to ‘chime in’ on facets of my life. I try to be selective about what I share so it doesn’t make people feel bad about themselves though.

Jennifer Bennett 1 year ago

Yeah, I didnt mention that the 4 year old climbed the fireplace mantle to get the snowglobe that Daddy (who shouldn’t) lets the baby play with, and then dropped it onto the cement in front crushing it into many sharp glass slivers, splattering all over the carpet in a 1.5 meter radius, leading us to pack early and evacuate to our new residence 3 weeks early so the 1 year old doesn’t crawl in glass shards when playing.

Renae Johnson 1 year ago

By the way in this the teenage boy lives he is 21 now.

Renae Johnson 1 year ago

Uh…no. But then again I’m old my kids are teenagers. I don’t care to embarrass them. No. Seriously I think as you get older all the fake I’m a perfect mom BS starts to show on some of these yuppie wanna be moms…makes me sick. Its OK to say your toddler ate bugs or pooped in the car and wiped it on the windows. Or your teenage son spent the night with his rich friends in a really nice neighbor hood and answered the door naked to the pizza delivery guy just to win a bet, then ran said pizza guy to his car asking where his 2liter drinks were as the pizza guy ditched them in the bushes and peeling off down the street, as named teenager runs behind car….its OK its happened to everyone…wait…you mean it hasn’t.
The point being is as a mom or even a parent shit gets real. Why lie and be fake.

Michelle Shipley Dumler 1 year ago

I like to share the good and the bad…I don’t want anyone to think our home is “picture perfect”…but I do enjoy sharing the good more. The bad is generally framed with funny jokes, as that is the normal thing to do for me! :) I have posted a pic of a toddler fit just for good measure, followed by the giggling boy…

Susan Aldea 1 year ago

I’m not the type of person to come on FB and play the victim card. Because honestly that crap annoys me when my friends and family do it! I try to keep it as real as I can as far as my kids are concerned too but I’m sure it’s a little one-sided 😉

Tut TheSphynx 1 year ago

Unless your child got run over by the lawnmower, I’m not interested.

Amy Brabant 1 year ago

Know what happens when I post (aka vent) about ‘real life’ instead of the FB version? I get told I ‘need to be more positive about life’ or that I ‘shouldn’t take things so seriously’. Basically that I should stop being such a negative bitch. Sooo um yeah I pretty much only post the FB version, now. :)

Dried-on Milk 1 year ago

Lay it all out there! Obviously I would be annoyed with someone who complains too much just as much as I would be annoyed with someone who made their lives seem perfect. I nice balance of both. My kids are a train wreck 24/7 but I adore them so I’ll give you the best of both worlds.

Liz 1 year ago

Facebook is a place for the abbreviated version of things, for me. A blog post like this is exactly the place to go into more detail. Brava! Wish more people would be a little more real on Facebook—it seems like you’re on one side or the other, complaining or spinning things positive.
And let’s not get started on “the Pinterest version.” Ha. Actually, that’s a great idea for a blog post…Thanks!

Liz 1 year ago

For me, Facebook is usually just the abbreviated version of what’s really going on or what’s on my mind. Blog posts like this are exactly the right place to go into more detail. Totally wish people would be more real on Facebook, though. And let’s not get into Pinterest. Ha.

Michelle Brennan 1 year ago


Jessica Amber 1 year ago

Life in itself isn’t a perfect snapshot, so I’m more inclined when people post silly chaotic laugh inducing stories sometimes, rather than life is perfect every minute every day because we only eat or make organic ice pops and cut out our sandwiches with bpa free heart shaped sandwich cutter out-ers. Everyone is different, I like seeing the real life messy joy. :) to each their own!

Katie De Oliveira Anderson 1 year ago

I do complain, hell yes!

Vanessa Caley 1 year ago

I <3 U Scary Mommy! I have been thinking about this very same thing recently!!

Christi 1 year ago

There’s a reason I call it Fakebook. It’s so refreshing when someone posts something I can actually identify with! Otherwise it just makes you feel bad when it appears that everyone around you has these perfect little angels and your kid is eating unidentified objects off the ground and repeating the curse word you didn’t think he heard you say!

momofeveryone 1 year ago

Me too!

Dusty Jones 1 year ago

no dirty laundry on my FB page.

Mary Schneider 1 year ago

I have become more private since my divorce, because I have too many nosy-nellie friends and family. When I’m feeling vulnerable, insecure, or otherwise unsure of choices I’m making for my kids as we move forward, I don’t need a bombardment of criticism and “advice” from people who aren’t even involved in our day-to-day lives.
So yes, absolutely, I share select things. The rest is reserved for actual conversations, whether via email, PM, phone, or face-to-face, with the few who’ve earned their way into my inner circle.
Not everything needs to be available for public viewing. JMHO.

Amy Gapsky Mowry 1 year ago

So funny…I have to admit I have vented about some not so great days with the kiddos on FB! I was told I needed to be grateful and considerate of those people who can’t have children…mind you it took us 7 years and 5 miscarriages to have our 3 kids! Can’t always be picture perfect :)

Cynthia Lingley-Boudreau 1 year ago

I feel the same way — I hate reading everyone’s “poor me” stories so I am not going to post them… I will however, on occasion, post a pic of a child having a meltdown over something silly because I find it funny :)

Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense 1 year ago

I would love if we could let honesty like this shine through on the stuff we post on Facebook. For example, post the idyllic photo, but have the caption say, “The are FINALLY sitting still and not screaming at each other… perfect photo op!”

Thanks for telling it like it is!


Heather Williams 1 year ago

Still sounds like a great day!

Melanie Paradise Leandri 1 year ago

Before Facebook people didn’t frame pictures of their kids screaming and fighting. So why would after Facebook be different. Facebook is basically a picture frame of your life. Say Cheese and get along for one minute!!!!!

F-ton S-hairs 1 year ago

I wouldve posted the pic & said “a quiet moment amid the constant chaos” hahaha

Jennifer Twaddell West 1 year ago

I don’t want to read about your children squabbling, I’ve listened to mine do it quite enough today, thank you very much! Unless something funny happens during the squabble, then please share! 😉

Dayna Mattis 1 year ago

so true !

Dayna Mattis 1 year ago

please, I’ve tried to sell my kid on facebook !! (not literally for you nuts who’ll try to call the cops on me) as in, “kid for sale, cheap !”

Jessica Quattlebaum 1 year ago

This article is so spot on for my family. Lol I mean the whole day. I have to young girls close in age, who argue over everything, and an even younger boy (the toddler). If you were to throw in a ten year old, who thinks that she is 20, that would be us.

Mary Jane Holland 1 year ago

I tend to only mention the nice things because im happy about it. I dont post too many negatives bcuz its my issue and ill work on it. Although i thankfully have a support group where i can vent and do the complaining. If anyone thinks my life is perfect thats on them cuz its far from perfect.

Becki Hahnen 1 year ago

Maybe I shouldn’t have posted the pic of me hiding in the closet with a bottle of wine but hey it’s life 😉

Adrianne Ward Burney 1 year ago

I write about good things ’cause I was taught not to air my dirty laundry in public. If I REALLY need to complain, I have a select group of friends to whom I can vent in a private group.

Stacey WilkBrooks 1 year ago

I choose to share the happy moments with my friends on FB.

Jenny Miller Lewis 1 year ago

Just like the people that only post the good stuff. Two years after the wedding I am always so confused to see they are getting married again – to a different guy!

Laura M. Shipman 1 year ago

Real life is messy!

Giselle Castillo Wrobel 1 year ago

Who wants to see a pic of a toddler having a meltdown? Post beautiful fun pictures then use status update to whine (just a lil bit to keep things real)

Giselle Castillo Wrobel 1 year ago

I agree! Who wants to see a pic of a toddler having a meltdown? Post beautiful fun pictures then use status update to whine (just enough yo keep things balanced)

Monica Jamer 1 year ago

I usually only post the good. I try to only post the bad when it’s funny :)

Kathleen M. Cornagey Davis 1 year ago

Hmmm–well, if I ever post anything real, I get 2 likes and no comments. Post a smartass pic? 20 likes….so….

Cheryl Morien Morency 1 year ago

love it! so true!!

Samantha Sotello 1 year ago

Love this!

Tawny Starr Johnson 1 year ago

However honesty and tmi can often coincide. Gotta watch that

Alyssa Benton 1 year ago

That reminds me of a beautiful pic I posted of my 2 yr old daughter holding hands with my 4 yr old son as they walked down a forest trail…
Nobody REALLY needed to know that she had been crying her eyes out moments before because he was walking faster than her, or that I had to promise them icecream later if they held hands for just a moment, right? :) Maybe they can look back at that pic a few years down the road and think “Awww, we loved each other!!!”

Joelle DeMint 1 year ago

I try to be honest and tell it like it is, some days I wonder if people think im going crazy but what fun would life be if it went so lame and boring with no broken objects, fights over who gets to pick nap movie or which fork is their super fast one :-)

Sydney Williamson 1 year ago

11:45 am in Arlington Texas- 90 degrees!

Cassandra-Lynn Green 1 year ago

Yes and no. Some things are meant to be kept personal ie/ fights with hubby, dirty laundry, sickness in the family, family drama. If a bird poops on me, a little one does something hilarious/out there or it’s a beautiful day fb knows

Joanne Montgomery 1 year ago

I photograph the perfect parts and status update when Im looking to moan lol….think that keeps it real enough!!

Randi Chesney 1 year ago

I chuckled at your heat wave lol
I’m in Southern Ontario and it’s 88 feels like 102 with humidity right now and it’s not even considered hot yet lol

Erica Thorson-McCauley 1 year ago

Don’t even know you but like you already!!!

Aubri Armistead Girardeau 1 year ago

It’s a lose-lose situation. If you complain about anything people are annoyed by the negativity. If it appears that your life is picture perfect you’re criticized for not being real. I tend to do a little of both, depending on my mood.

Jennie Reis 1 year ago

I don’t air out anything on FB. Not anything personal anyways. However, I do like to get popcorn and a coke for when others do. It’s quite entertaining.

Jamie Tate Jauriqui 1 year ago

Yes! Because no one like those Debbie downers that constantly complain about life (we all have those friends). Life is great! Post the fun stuff, and don’t bring the rest of us down :)

Lori O’Donnell Moritz 1 year ago

I air it all. The good, the bad and the WTF moments. With a sense on humour about it. It’s good to know you’re not alone.

Stacy Bystrom Stutzka 1 year ago

All or nothing with me. Even the TMI moments, but only with parenting. The ins and outs of my marriage are for me and my hubby to deal with.

Jocelyn Van Meter 1 year ago

I have no filter. If you’re not someone I feel comfortable complaining to, you don’t belong on my Facebook anyway.

Erica Thorson-McCauley 1 year ago

Love it, nice to know I’m not alone :) cheers!!!

Jessica Courneya 1 year ago

If you are negative Nancy or complain all the time, people get annoyed. There is moderation in everything. Be real but don’t go overboard in complain and being negative.

Karen LM 1 year ago

If i waited for only envious things to post, i would never post.

Pam Kindle Davidson 1 year ago

My friends and family get the good and the bad.

Kris Kirwan 1 year ago

Mostly, with a few sarcastic real life bits here and there. But who wants to see all that innermost negativity? Public shaming & complaining about others is not my place. I’ll save my therapy for my friends over drinks! :)

Nichole Ferello 1 year ago

I mostly just write about good stuff on FB. People don’t need to know all the inter-workings of my mind and my life.

Kialee Laubenthal Bohnert 1 year ago

My Facebook version would have been her real version!

Michelle Mele 1 year ago

For me, Facebook is not the place to air drama or personal problems. When I post personal things, it is to update family and friends who are far away-pictures of my son’s growth, updates on his development….things like that. I think it’s pretty neutral-I post the photo of him being cute with his dog right along with the update about how he’s hating teething right now and doesn’t want to nap.

Martha Lindhorst 1 year ago

My friends and family get the good, bad and the ugly with my kids on FB.

Sabrina Ruiz 1 year ago

I tell it like it is!!☝️

Tracy Hohler 1 year ago

Nope. I air it all out! If people don’t care to see it, they can block me, remove me as a friend or hide me. I’m a single mama to a 3.5 yr old girl with no outlet and sometimes I just need to bitch and complain about life.