The craziest part of the ridiculous photos people put on Instagram is actually the captions they include. It’s in the captions where we tell our biggest lies. It’s where we cover our tracks and try to justify or ignore our real motives for posting a photo.

Case in point, my friend Donald Miller had given me and the 1,200 other people at his conference a sample from his new book, Scary Close. His New York Times Bestselling book Blue Like Jazz sold 1 million copies and he’s definitely an author I look up to.

I thought for a minute about posting a photo of the pages with the caption, “So proud of my friend Donald Miller. Can’t wait to read his next book!”

That’s a noble caption at first glance. Look at me celebrating a friend! Look at me helping drive more book sales! I am such a giver!

But if Instagram had an honest caption filter, this is what it would have said:

“I’m friends with Donald Miller and I want you to know that. He gives me stuff that he doesn’t give you.”

Well that’s a tad bit gross. I don’t think I like that caption nearly as much as the first one. I was a hero in the first one! And there’s the rub. Most of us aren’t true because we want to lie or trick people. We just want to look like more of a hero than we really are.

We want people to think we’re cool. Or that we win a lot. Or that we’re smart. So we do things online that perpetuate that perception. We create a character instead of living with character. The first step to being true is to just gut check our motives.

I’m not asking you to go off in the woods and beat a drum each time you’re about to tweet or post something on Facebook, I just want a 3 second pause. Sometimes simply asking the question, “What’s my motive here?” is enough to bump us back to the land of honesty.

Live with character online instead of playing a character online.

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