I’m far better-looking online.

Driving through town, I had to pull my car over and “Shazam” this song to find out what it is. Brad Paisley cracks me up with Online — a song about our efforts to snow everybody with our online presence. Listen!

Come on, you know it’s true. We want to convince people that we’re not beer-bellied or love-handle-laden normal people who sit at home and fret and stress and wish that we were something other than who we are. We want people to find us confident, attractive, in possession of a stellar resume and every status symbol our subculture most values, and relationships to envy. We want people to think that we have a dream job, a spouse who looks like a movie star (and worships us), and above average everything.

So we curate these lives on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. And naturally we don’t include pictures of the meals that flopped, the anniversary dinners at which we had our worst fights, the times we went to a Starbucks to meet a friend who never showed up, the struggles with weight and health that hang on year to year, the existential crises when we wonder if — in the end — our lives will have meant anything.

What if we had an online meeting place (or, better yet, an in-person one) where it was expected that we’d be entirely honest about who we are, what we lack, what we fear, what we long for and ache for, what we’re celebrating that we feel a little bit vulnerable about, and how much we want to be known, loved and accepted “as is.”

I love those rare places, mostly the space of individual friendships, where I can laugh at my messy self, but only for a minute because really, although my friend loves me deeply, I am not the center of the universe, and real friends help me remember that, even as they make me feel like I am (Click to tweet!). 

And the more we can show people who we really are and accept others as they really are, the more free we will all be to let our online presence reflect reality — and create spaces where we can take our interactions into real-time, in-person, risk-taking relationship.

That’s my vision.

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