Each day, 1.8 billion photos are uploaded to the internet, and the average person spends 1.72 hours on social media (via Adweek)—not to mention all of that time spent capturing, editing, and filtering the perfect picture. In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” In 2006, Twitter launched with a mission “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
Ironically, social media was founded on the principles of connection, yet it remains one of of the greatest sources of disconnection in our modern culture.
Four years ago, I began my pursuit as a “blogger babe.” I packed my bags at age 18 and moved to Los Angeles for a fashion PR internship in West Hollywood. I had a suitcase, a camera, and a heart full of passion. It was this summer that I fell in love with snapping photos for my blog between lunch breaks, styling my food for 10 minutes before I could even take a first bite, and spending hours organizing little vignettes of products on my dresser. I fell in love with the “art of social storytelling,” and began my blog and my instagram, @livinlikelarz.
The hustle began and never stopped. I sent nearly 20 emails a day in hopes for a response. I acquired two new internships for Hood by Air and Sincerely Jules, where I spent most of my time in front of a spreadsheet, running around LA delivering packages, or folding numerous objects for the next orders. I worked 14 hour days, buying clothes to shoot for my blog, only to be returned after a “style shoot.” I began to craft a perfect story, with new daily #OOTDs, perfectly crafted lattes, and high fashion parties on Sunset Boulevard.
Four years later, I “made it.”
I skipped my second week of school at Vanderbilt University to attend New York Fashion Week, where I began sharing my stories to millions of followers on the Lookbook.nu. I had mastered the art of “social storytelling.” But something didn’t feel right. I realized I was only telling #HALFTHESTORY.
It was 80 degrees and I was running from the Betsey Johnson show to the AOL Headquarters in a double denim outfit. I had a front row spot at DVF’s Build Series, and I had 15 minutes to make it on time before the show went live. I got lost on the subway, and wound up running 8 blocks in my denim outfit, wiping sweat down my face. I face planted, broke my phone, and eagerly raced into the office. Later that day I proceeded to post one of my #glam street style photos from an Elle photographer and proceeded to create an image of “perfection.”
I was crafting the story I wanted to tell, but this was only #HALFTHESTORY. Nobody could see the anxiety that raced through my blood as I raced from show to show. The sleepless nights that I spent writing papers for my courses, or the times when I felt run down and could barely get up in the morning. This was the other #HALFTHESTORY, a story that we all experience, but are afraid to share.
WHAT STORY ARE YOU TELLING?
As bloggers, we are artists. We make the simple things look beautiful; every meal is a perfectly styled masterpiece, every day is an #OOTD, and every fashion week is another experience of art, fashion, and after parties. Our followers eagerly await our next carefully curated instagram or blog post, aspiring to live the idealistic lifestyles we lead.
In the midst of all of the talk about whether “social media” was good, bad, or inauthentic, I realized that it is art. In essence, art is inspired by reality, however, it is not reality in itself. Social media is criticized for its “superficial fashion bloggers” and the unattainable strive for perfection, but it is not a bad thing. But it is only #HALFTHESTORY.
For artists, it is important to remain authentic and relatable, to take a moment to share your #HALFTHESTORY, whether that is your success story, a dream, an aspiration, or the truth behind the “glam and glory” of fashion. It’s a moment to pause and inform your readers of the reality of your every-day life, so that you can connect on a human level rather than an artificial front. I truly believe that as bloggers the biggest challenge is to balance high quality content with authenticity. Without knowing it, our curated lifestyles have a strong enough power to inspire as we do to destruct. With social media at our finger-tips, dreams may seem so far fetched andunattainable, however, it’s the daily struggles, triumphs, and learning experiences that bring us closer to our goals.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS ONLY #HALFTHESTORY
As a response to the ongoing conversation about whether social media is “good or bad,” I have designed a social media project, #HALFTHESTORY, which inspires individuals to use the platform as a means to connect, rather than disconnect.
In a world driven by instant success and social media, we have the opportunity to carefully craft our identities through the images that we share on our social channels.
In a world driven by instant success, we tend to hide behind our perfectly curated social media identities and an unrealistic perception of reality.
There’s nothing wrong with finding that beautiful little square in the turmoil that accompanies life, but all those perfect squares are only #HALFTHESTORY. The #HALFTHESTORY Project is changing the meaning of vulnerability. You don’t have to tell a sob story to connect on a human level. You can share a passion, dream, or desire to make it happen. Our goal is to provide a platform that allows men and women from all walks of life to share a part of their story that isn’t revealed through their social channels. #HALFTHESTORY does not focus on weakness or insecurity, but rather, is a celebration of individuality, intellect, and passion. We aim to shed light on hidden human talents, ideas, and beliefs that create TRUE connection.
WHAT IS YOUR #HALFTHESTORY?
What’s your #HALFTHESTORY? Share your ideas below.