One of the seven emails from the nice lady talked about social media and how it can completely undermine our positive feelings.
As you will know, if you have been reading my blog for a while, I had a sabbatical from Facebook a while back and only kept in touch with the groups that I am in via a separate app (I need this facility so that I can see when my lovely ladies are meeting up and for selling stuff). I gave it up because it was making me cross. All I saw were people’s dinners, people’s cats/dogs (which I am sure appeal to all the animal lovers out there but that’s not me), adverts and what other people have “liked” – I don’t want to see the photos of a complete stranger even though our mutual friend thinks they are nice.
I started dipping back in again when my friend was doing an event and I wanted to see updates and pictures. I was appalled at how quickly I got sucked back into looking at it every day and how quickly those feelings of annoyance and irritation came back. I’ve tried to ignore it since but do find myself checking in on it every once in a while. I would dearly love to remove it completely, delete my account and forget all about this world that takes over our lives. But, as I deliberated over this all those months ago, the reasons for not removing myself from it remain: I want to stay in touch with some old school friends and family members and most of them only use Facebook and not Instagram (still my favoured social media of choice); I like to keep up to date with my book club ladies; and I like to sell the odd item on the local Parent Network. If it weren’t for these things I would gladly move along.
One of the points that the nice lady made was that we see pictures of people’s lives and assume that their lives are like this ALL THE TIME. I’m not naive enough to believe this and I’ve never been one for sitting looking at the computer and thinking “I wish that were me”. But it did get me thinking about our motives for posting certain photos and/or status updates. Some people (and I’m not talking about people I know) are blatant attention seekers posting cryptic statuses crying out for a “What’s up, hun?” response; others are serial likers and “like” every post known to man; others want the world and his wife to know every minute details of their lives. Some people post pictures of their families out on a walk (er herm, yes I put my hands up to that one); or on holiday. Surely that’s acceptable?
I post regularly on Instagram and like to share snaps of where we have had a nice stroll or of a tasty cake that A has made. I would hate to think that this could be misconstrued as showing off or trying to appear to have a perfect existence. We endeavour to get out and about for a bike ride or walk fairly regularly but this is not my entire life. However, according to the nice lady in her email, there are people who may see this and feel downhearted that their life is not full of walks in the countryside or of nice cakes. I might well post a picture of my kids smiling and laughing on a walk but it doesn’t show them bickering about who is going to eat the last sandwich from the picnic 20 minutes later. It doesn’t show the row we had over who had walked mud into the house when we got home half an hour after the walk through the fields; or me getting cross when A didn’t clean the kitchen after making a lovely cake. Of course we don’t show this stuff. Who wants to see that?
But this is what my children’s generation are growing up with and they are part of a new culture where real life is hidden behind a mask of perfect photos that have been filtered or photo-shopped. They are inundated with this social media stuff and they live in a world where it is much harder to “opt out”. I know that my friends selfie is just a snapshot of her life and that hours later she was despairing over what to cook her kids for dinner. I would like to think that my daughter knows that her friend only looks like a model in her pageant photos because she has a ton of makeup on and had her hair done professionally. She DOES know this. She knows what her friend looks like on a day to day basis but it could so easily be different. And it worries me. I will be having yet another “chat” about the realities of photos on social media and maybe thinking a bit more about how many photos I post. Perhaps you will see the odd one of the dogshit on my shoe or my cry-face when no-one likes the dinner I cooked. Perhaps not.