I'll preface this post by saying I'm a huge Instagram fan. Of all the social networks, it's the one I'd miss the most if it were to disappear tomorrow. I suspect this love is rooted in a favorite childhood pastime: thumbing through old family albums. Many an hour was spent perusing the pages of family history, scrutinizing not only the photo subjects, but anything in the background, trying to absorb all the accidental life stories captured within. While Instagram lacks the tangible delight of heavy photo books and page flips, it has become the modern version of the family album of yore. What once required the foresight to capture photos, the patience to develop and a sizable chunk of time to lay everything out in a photo book, can now be accomplished with the literal click of a button.

But along with the good, comes a side of hostility. Critics berate Instagram (and its users) for the rise of the "Envy Effect," claiming the majority of photos shared on Instagram portray a perfect and unrealistic life. “When you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, the majority of your friends probably aren’t doing anything any more special. But it only takes one friend at the Eiffel Tower to make you feel like a loser.”

As one author says in his rebuttal to the post, "I wouldn’t be the first person to point out that if you’re jealous of your friend’s life as it looks on Instagram or Facebook, the problem is not social media — it’s you."

I tend to agree.

Nobody ever said Instagram was a non-fiction storytelling tool. If anything, it's a medium for telling the story of our lives based on a series of true events. It's art, not forensics.

like experiencing the world through the eyes of those who find beauty in unexpected places. I like that people are taking the time to experience the magic of life on a micro-level. I like people who challenge themselves to find a softer world -- and share that with others. That doesn't take away from my life experience, it reminds me to keep my eyes, mind and heart open to everything around me.

Sunday night a friend shared a great post on Facebook: What I Instagrammed Vs. What Was Really Happening, Or My Entire Life is a Life. In the spirit of the true story, I'm taking a page from Olivia's playbook. Here are Instatruths of my own...




What it looks like... BEHOLD! Life in Ohio is a blissful state of autumnal glory – and it’s only early September. Must be going now. It’s time to don a thick scarf and a cozy cowl neck sweater for the hayride that takes us to pick apples and sing songs around a Pinterest-worthy bonfire.

The real story... Two minutes before I took this photo, my 2-year-old "nephin" chucked one of these pumpkins at the ground. Hard. As a result, we went home the proud, new owners of a bruised and battered pumpkin.



What it looks like... Clad in practical shoes, I hiked to the top of this mountain to be at one with nature and revel in the splendor of Mother Earth.

The real story... I was essentially tricked into climbing this hill by a much more outdoorsy, fit and nature-friendly friend. Number of asthma attacks experienced climbing hill: 1. Hits off asthma inhaler: 2. Number of complaints about climbing steep terrain only to arrive in front of a beautiful waterfall drenched in sweat on a 90-degree August day: countless.



What it looks like... Just another Saturday night sipping on a fabulous drink at a fabulous bar living a fabulous life.

The real story... The bartenders at this place are so hipster I was afraid they would judge me if I asked if that was a pineapple top. So I just took a picture of it instead.


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What it looks like... Just a quick photo to say hello!

The real story... This is the first time I’ve had my hair out of a messy bun in over a week. It only happened because I had a guest in town. If you run into me any place else under any other circumstances, neither I, nor my hair, will look anything like this.


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What it looks like... My dog is an adorable, quirky creature.

The real story... My dog is an adorable, quirky creature with a penchant for getting into trouble. This is his “I did something really terrible #SorryNotSorry” face. I see it all the time.

CHIME IN: Do you think the Instagram is a positive or a negative thing?