Boastful. Smug. Artificial.
Qualities one doesn’t usually look for in a friend or acquaintance and yet there these qualities lie, staring me right in the eye every time I check on a certain social networking site with a face.
Recently, I’ve been getting rather annoyed with social media. It’s not done anything specific for me to be frustrated with, it’s more how I’ve been reacting to it. The love affair between us is over. I’ve had enough and I have a feeling I may not be the only one…
So what has social media done that’s so terrible? Well nothing really – it’s been it’s usual self, delivering posts from ‘friends’ onto my ‘newsfeed’ for me to feel like I’m up to date with their lives when I haven’t seen or spoken to them in years – obvs! But I’ve got to the point where the representation of life on social media is getting me down. Well annoying me…a lot.
Over the years, like most people in the Twenty-first Century, I’ve been one to put updates on my timeline – these have marked my nights out, travel adventures, special occasions (such as birthdays) and momentous occasions (such as my engagement, marriage and the birth of Pudding). Interestingly, I’ve noted how the posts I put up have changed over the years. In my mid twenties it was all drunken nights out and group shots with friends looking glamorous and sexy in cute outfits; like some sort of girl band without a stylist. Now – well I’m truly in the phase where it’s engagement and birth announcements, wedding celebrations, scan pics and sold signs being removed cluttering up my feed. Me and my ‘friend network’ have all grown up and moved on. Quite literally in some cases! I do have the odd young, single and under thirty friend (well the odd under forty friend with a Peter Pan complex) who are still in the party hard and live young lifestyle but these are getting fewer and fewer in numbers.
After Pudding was born, I was conscious not to post too many photos of her on my newsfeed – why? Well the reason was two fold, firstly because, as I’ve mentioned here, I am mega neurotic and don’t want images of my precious ending up on the Dark Net in some horrific capacity and, secondly, I don’t want to over share and clutter up newsfeeds with a constant barrage of my Pudding. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but I was happy to hear several people commending me for not over posting the baby pics. At least I wasn’t an annoying over sharer. This is another thing that can be frustrating about social media – over sharers! No I don’t need to see a bloody photo of your dinner. No I don’t want to see the bloody view from your window. No I don’t want to see you tagged up shopping in ASDA!!!!! No! No! No!
So what’s fuelled this change of heart with social media? It’s the constant representations of ourselves that we post eagerly awaiting validation from our friends. We no longer take a picture to capture a genuine moment for posterity, instead we take about a dozen photos, select the one we like the best, crop the pic, apply a filter and post it up for all to see and click like. We are editing our lives to appear more appealing (or at least polished and glamorous) than it really is. Not that there’s anything wrong with this per se, it just seems that we aren’t really acknowledging the real us – just the presentation of ourselves we wish to project. Maybe, just maybe the reality isn’t always as great as the post depicts.
So really, the qualities that we see brandished across social media are hiding the fact that we’re Insecure? Lonely? Needy? How often have you seen a post that’s then fuelled a feeling that maybe our own lives aren’t quite as interesting, perfect or exciting? In response, we then post something that shows how great and wonderful things are with us. It’s Competitive Online Life Syndrome (another Googling Mum coined phrase I do believe).
Then again would we genuinely wish to see some of the reality that features in our daily lives? ‘Hey here’s the fifth nappy I’ve changed today and I’ve got baby schmmo on my trousers’. Or ‘here’s a shot of me vacuuming the lounge’. Maybe even a snap of you first thing in the morning with no makeup on and yesterday’s mascara under your eyes – now there’s a selfie! When you actually think about it smug, fab and glam life posts are more appealing. But for every night out girl band with out a stylist group shot – there is also the morning after, hangover to suffer. Or perfect family photo at Alton Towers – there will be the temper tantrum that happened ten minutes later. Or scenic country walk – someone will have stepped in a cow pat. Because that’s life. Sometimes it’s bloody awesome and filled with brilliance, at others it’s imperfect and chaotic. And then sometimes, and never underestimate how important this is, sometimes it’s just mundane and ordinary. In fact we should all aspire to mundane and ordinary as when life isn’t mundane and ordinary we can’t differentiate the good and brag worthy times.
So, in order to assist everyone with feeling better about social media and to allow a little perspective, here are some tips to dealing with social media:
One: Every now and then post a really dull photo of something completely ordinary and random. For example a muddy puddle or brick wall. There’s beauty in everything y’know.
Two: Post a comment that describes what you are doing “Currently loading the dishwasher #livingthedream” this will help maintain a grip on reality. It will also reinforce that life comes with menial tasks to complete.
Three: Brag/boast about something really trivial “Heading to do the grocery shop with the family in a recently cleaned car” or “Completed ironing pile today #winning”.
Four: Share really dull articles and blog posts to help make people realise that dull is also good.
Five: To prevent over sharing, select a day or two where you don’t post anything or indeed, maybe (if you’re crazy enough) don’t check any social media for that day. You might find yourself enjoying the day or two break.
Six: Don’t like anything too showy, boastful or contrived – not that the person posting will notice but it’s ok not to have to validate everything other people do. It will remind you not to feel so controlled by the ‘likes’.
So that’s pretty much it. I’ll still continue to use the old social media as we obviously have a healthy love/hate type relationship (plus I don’t want to become a social pariah) but I think I’m going to step away when it all gets a bit too perfect lives. I’ll take a walk, drink a cuppa or flick through a magazine as sometimes, being in the real world is better than that of the contrived, super perfect ideal of social media.