Deep down we all know that social media is a carefully curated highlights reel. Even the spur of the moment “I look so weird and don’t care” probably took about 5 shots to get. I always smile when you are about to take a photo and someone turns their head at a very specific angle and pouts just right.
Saturday was a public holiday, but if you are like me and work Monday through Friday, it didn’t really count. 🙂 It was Youth Day and to celebrate, a TV producer by day and tequila fiend by night, Jo Lurie, came up with #TheGramSham.
How #TheGramSham started
Working in TV, Jo Lurie knows what goes into making your life look glamorous. And after Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, she realised that she should have known better.
I’ve spent the last 15 years in the TV industry and I see first hand how much effort people put into selling the dream of how happy their lives are. You shouldn’t have to put in so much effort to make your life look happy and glamorous. It shouldn’t be this hard. What about the in-between bits?
So, this is where it all began. I’m pretty ashamed to say that even I bought into #TheGramSham, which came as a real surprise to me because I thought I knew better. I’m 40 years old, I work in the entertainment industry, I see the fronting all the time, and I was shocked? What about kids who think it’s ALL real? They really take it ALL at face value. They think that’s what their lives will be like. Our fairytales lived in books, their fairytales are playing out on instagram. Just for today, let’s be real and lift the lid on it. No dream selling, only truth telling.
There is a connection between increased feelings of inadequacy and failure and social media such as Instagram. About two years ago, I went on holiday and because there was no signal, I wasn’t able to check social media. And even though I was relaxed, I knew a big part of that was because I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to others on Instagram and Facebook. So I’m really mindful of when I go onto social media (it is also part of my job), but this doesn’t mean I don’t feel inadequate. I often feel this way.
Jo Lurie encouraged others to explain that their Instagram feed wasn’t the only part of their lives and that there are always the “in-between bits”. I didn’t know what #TheGramSham was but noticed that a few of the people I follow were revealing some things that I would never have guessed. And the most interesting part was that not once did I think the image was ugly or out of sorts. It was only the caption that made me realise this wasn’t a ‘regular’ post.
I've just stumbled across #thegramsham and the stories have had me in tears, have had me nodding in empathy. I like to think I'm pretty transparent but looking at my Instagram I can see I'm not really. My life on here is actually extremely filtered. I have an amazing person, the best kid, a job I mostly love, we go on holidays in forests and am a university student. But, let me share some of what you don't see… You don't see the SMS saying our bank balance is R3, the lack of sleep because I have to work extra hours and take jobs on at a fraction of what I should charge just so we can manage. I have the best kid in the world, but I struggle as a mom, and not just because I'm his only parent, because even though he will be 9 in August I still have a hard time really bonding with him and the guilt is crushing. You don't see the chronic pain caused by arthritis and spinal issues, the failing eyesight, the sun allergy, the early menopause, the crippling social anxiety, the extreme noise sensitivity, the aspergers that I try so hard to "manage". You see happy and sad days sure, but those are managed emotions because borderline personality disorder means I am basically a drug addict (prescribed) to manage and regulate those emotions. The self loathing every time I look in a mirror or even put on clothes because of the extra 30kg I carry around on my body due to medication, a lack of exercise cause I'm too tired and a shitty freaking diet because I would rather just have a cup of coffee so that my kid has decent and healthy meals. I show worries about exams but not the debilitating anxiety they cause because of a childhood raised believing that failure is never an option. Even my body is filtered. The scars are covered with beautiful ink. I'm 30 and I still don't feel like an adult, I feel like an utter fraud actually. I don't have my shit together. I am not perfect. So to the youths out there… Try not to compare your life with what you see on Instagram. At the end of the day your only competition is the person reflecting back at you in the mirror.
This is how I showed #YouthDay my respect. In Jan of this year I discovered I was quite sick. I had no clue until I ended up in hospital. I never really discuss/tell people what's wrong with me because I'm of the belief that continuos talking of the negative just makes the negative linger for longer than necessary. So for the last 6 months I've been eating better & trying to find ways to ignite a love for fitness. So I realize now #Yoga is still a first love. I joined hundreds of people this morning at Wanderers Stadium for a yoga session & It was great & I feel great. I have rolls in my tummy that were in shock at being stretched out, I lost balance a few times & at one point I thought wow… you're not young anymore 🤣🤣🤣 but I carried On! My point is #YouthDay is a day to remember to carry on. Live your life, enjoy your youth, take time out yet never forget this day is here because of people who can no longer be. 💔 Young ones, life isn't perfect, you can only make it perfect for you. Happy #June16 #YouthDay #TheGramSham #JoziYogaDay
Imagine starting your weekend with over 30K in your bank account then waking up Monday morning with this bank balance? Here’s a little story I hope will inspire someone: About 5 or 6yrs ago I was one of the main anchors of the country’s biggest live teen variety show. At this time I was also main cast in a prime time weekly drama series that aired on the national broadcaster, the “makings of a teen idol” as my PR bio would read if I were Selena Gomez or Miley 😜. My personal life seemed to flourish as well, I’d just purchased my 1st car, acquired a bond towards a loft apartment in one of JHB’s northern suburbs, well on my trajectory towards success. I made a few friends in showbizz whom I loved because they made me feel famous, like I’m some kind of big deal. I was deeply insecure and a people pleaser – yeah, strange right? Me? INSECURE?! One random afternoon a payment of over 30K came into my bank account from a random job, common practice in this here business, and the first thing I did was call up a few friends. Three of us linked up that weekend living the time of our lives with bottles of bubbly, clubs, hotels and strippers. Monday morning I had to report to set and as I swiped at the service station this was the notification text of my bank balance. I spent all day recalling what I’d spent all that money on, how I’m going to cover my bills and why the fuck was I so irresponsible? I later found out why: I wanted to fit into a realm and level I hadn’t reached yet, I let a bunch of hype words get to my head, I wanted to showcase a “lifestyle” on my gram, I wanted those friends to think I lived that way daily. It’s years later, I’ve kept this SMS as motivation to get up in the morning, as the reason I will work 3 jobs at a time, as a reminder to stay in my lane and walk at my pace because I will never have R22 left in my bank account trying to impress and be liked. This app is but a granule of our realities, shall I remind you that what glitters isn’t always gold. PS: I’m a lot older and wiser now, I still like nice things, I have a little more than R22 in my account for this weekend- don’t worry😂🤷🏽♂️ #HappyYouthDay #Thegramsham
I always try to be real on Instagram. I share my stories, I speak from the heart and I try to be encouraging. But I do always share the nicest pictures and I do filter them with a pink filter to make my feed look somewhat nice and of course I don't always share the bad moments. @thejolurie has encouraged all of us to participate in #thegramsham. The hashtag is pretty self explanatory but the most important part of it is the date she chose to do it – youth day. We need to stop fooling the younger generation into thinking that our lives are perfect by what we share on here. So here goes, this picture was taken in a change room and I left without this shirt and I left feeling like shit. I preach body positivity and I have come a very long way with mine but that doesn't mean I don't hate it on some days. This day was one of them. This was the biggest shirt and I loved it but hated the way it fitted. I wanted to take a knife and cut my tummy rolls. I wanted to go back to my old extreme dieting. I wanted to cry in that change room. But I didn't share that with you. Whenever I have these moments I feel like a fraud because I am trying to encourage others to love themselves but I can't even do it properly. Some days I feel like I am annoying, I am very insecure about my relationships with people and 99% of the time I care waaaay too much about what others think of me. Now it's your turn.
#TheGramSham The truth is … what you don’t see in this pic is … The insecurity. It’s sounds small, but it’s something that affects most areas of our lives. I’ve spent a lot of time learning to deal with insecurity (especially since I’ve been in my industry). Wondering…am I enough? … I’m slowly learning that I DON’T need to fit in…in fact, learning that the plan was never for me to fit in at all. The older I’ve gotten, the more secure I’ve become…& the closer I get to God, the more secure I’ve become in who I am in Him. To every young person reading this, I want to remind you that social media is NOT real life. We are all just here putting our best foot forward. There is A LOT we don’t post. I want to encourage you to find identity in knowing that you are fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose greater than being “accepted” on social media. God’s plan for your life is perfect. I wish, on this #YouthDay, and everyday, you know that you are enough…JUST AS YOU ARE. #FailingForward #ImperfectlyPerfect #HappyYouthDay #TheGramSham @thejolurie
We simply CANNOT go on showing off our flashy lifestyles and the things we “own” and the places we go WITHOUT letting the youth of South Africa know what we’ve gone through to acquire such. The youths who look up to you, turn back and look at THEIR lives and come up short. This leads to depression and feelings of inadequacy. Sure you’ve worked hella hard, but, your reality (in some cases, not all) isn’t as rosey as you’d have the gram believe. Show these kids how you went about it and what sacrifices you’ve made, if any. Stop making these “goals” so unattainable to the kids, the youth of our beautiful country. Post your #TheGramSham and end this. We’re not looking for you to embarrass yourself, just to be real !
I really wanted to take part in the #thegramsham since @thejolurie tagged me in it. It’s so important for people to realize that what we put on instagram is highly selective. But then I went galavanting through the Seychelles and all the “bad” stuff was still pretty incredible and to post the behind the scenes of this week would have been the biggest humble brag. But the reality that us artists don’t show you is the daily rejection. The dropped bookings, the constant hustle. (This email is actually referencing a booking I had moved a lot of things for, even postponed the Seychelles trip for it, and it got dropped just like that.) You see the glory when it all goes according to plan, you don’t see the frustration, the financial strain and the hopeless sobs when it doesn’t. #youthday. #StillLaughMyLife ❤️
I’m guilty of #TheGramSham
I always make a point of never having a profile picture that would make someone go huh and do a double take in a bad way if they saw me in person. But recently I have only been posting what I consider to be flattering photos. I have gained a lot of weight in the last 6 years (30kgs) and lost 10kgs only to put it back on again this year. And while I am aware, it never really bothered me until last Monday. I was at an event, they wanted a photo and this was a professionally taken photo but my double chin really bothered me.
Sure it has been there for a while, but it only started bothering me on Monday. I was like there is no way I am sharing this photo, but after seeing this hashtag, why not? It doesn’t make me less of a person, it is just a photo of where I currently am. And it’s no surprise of what I look like anyway. And that’s fine. Plus I had a really good time.
This was such a fun evening. We laughed the whole time but I was reluctant to post it because I didn't like the way I looked and the irony of it being a food event isn't lost on me either #thegramsham. It's OK to post pics that aren't a highlights reel. It's OK for people to know that you have hang ups.
The weirdest thing is that when I was “thin”, I was actually the worst I’ve ever been in terms of my mental health. I feel much better now but I keep on telling myself I must be missing something because carrying an extra 30kgs can’t just be nothing.
I’ve been following Body Positive Panda in an attempt to stop beating myself up but it is a challenge. After the photo, I decided to put my health first and started an eating plan. Nothing hectic, but enough to not make eating a mental minefield. This is a process.
The point is to always be kind. And I always try and do this. You never know what other people are going through.
Jo Lurie creator of #TheGramSham has this to say:
I reached out to Jo Lurie and asked her what she thought about the response.
“It’s completely disarming to see such truthfulness on a platform that celebrates fluff and filters. The best thing to come out of this is the mass realisation that everyone feels like they’re failing on some level. Everyone feels like they are not getting it right in some way, on some days. Everyone feels like they’re the only one going through this. By people sharing these truths, they realised they were actually not alone at all. They understood that their experience was more normal than they thought.”
And this is only the beginning…
“My big learning was that the truth may not set you free, but it will connect you to others, and that’s what #TheGramSham so successfully did. Initially, it was meant to be just for Youth Day, but I think the conversation isn’t over yet, so I’ve extended until the end of June”.