The Vixen Thinks: Why I Filter My Online Life


Earlier this year, I wrote a post on whether people are obligated to use their platform or not. While I was writing it, I kept find myself wandering off track and speaking about why I personally don't speak about certain things on social media. Eventually, I realised I was going to have to write an entire post about why I filter my online life to highlight the good.

Whether you do it intentionally or not, we all edit our online lives. It would be impossible to share every little aspect of yourself on the internet, so even those who are the most open, even those who try to be absolutely genuine on social media, will have little bits and pieces of who they are missing from their online life.

Over the years I've gradually started to share less and less information about myself and I've made conscious decisions about what I do share and what I don't share. In my mid to late teens in particular, if I was in a bad mood, I would immediately take to the internet to vent. At first it was on Myspace, before moving to Facebook, Twitter, and of course, blogging.

I've deleted a lot of the things I've written on the internet. Posts I've made while drunk, posts I've made in sheer blind rage, posts I've thought better of 24 hours later. Sometimes, it was too late. The wrong person would see and the damage would be done. Other times I'd be safe, but I was often left with a deep sense of annoyance towards myself, particularly when the posts I were deleting were alcohol fuelled.

As I get older, I rarely have to delete anything I post online and it's because I've taken the time to sit and think about exactly what I want to share on my blog and social media. I do edit my life and I'm very aware that Facebook and Instagram in particular are my "highlight reels".

There are those out there who believe this is dishonest. I disagree. 

As a teenager, I kept diaries. Unfortunately, I was a very unhappy teenager. When I re-read the hundreds of thousands of words I wrote in my journals, I cry. I feel empty for days afterwards. I can't believe I was in so much pain.

My blog and social media profiles are the modern day equivalent of my diaries. They are a record of my life. But when I use apps like Timehop or scroll through months of Tweets and Facebook statuses, I don't want to cry. I don't want to be reminded of the worst days of my life.

I actively filter the information I share online to highlight the good and minimise the bad.

Part of it is practical: it doesn't look good to employers if they check you out on social media and all they can see is negativity. But mostly, it's about my mental health. Because of my diaries, I can remember, in acute detail, incidents where I was hurt years and years ago. Nowadays, when I have an embarrassing moment or someone upsets me, I've forgotten about it in a few months time because I no longer keep records of everything that happens to me.

Instead, I look back on social media and see pictures of me having a great time, making friends, taking on exciting new challenges, overcoming obstacles and achieving things. I re-read old blogs posts and instead of anguish, I am inspired.

I also like to share mostly positive things on social media because I believe it helps others. I hate scrolling through social media or reading blog posts that are full of arguments, ranting, whining and misery. I don't want to contribute to that.

In order to ensure I don't cross the line into dishonesty, I am careful not exaggerate. I do not lie about my lifestyle. I remain open and honest about the fact that there are improvements I am actively trying to make to my life, to who I am as a person. When particularly horrible things happen to me, such as when I ended up in hospital, I do not pretend they didn't happen, but I use them to learn lessons and share those lessons.

I urge everyone to think about the information they share online. Everyone will have different comfort levels and that's fine. Perhaps there is value for you in sharing the not so great side of life. For me though, I want the life I live online to be as positive as possible.