Monday, November 14, 2011

My Life in a Nutshell: Facebook is not Reality

I recently had a wonderful Facebook chat with 2 real-life friends who currently live in other states. It was like a girls’ night out, but digital. In our discussion it came up that sometimes we all feel down because we are constantly getting the impression that everyone else has rosy lives filled daily with delicious and attractive meals eaten with perfectly satisfied husbands and clean and helpful children who never have tantrums at school and positively never ever pick their noses. And other such impossible realities. The truth of the matter is that Facebook lies to us.

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On Facebook, like on many blogs, we only see the really notable aspects of someone’s life, generally the most photogenic or comment-worthy. We see pictures of their wedding, new babies, vacations, reunions, New Year’s Eve parties. We don’t see those same people feeling miserable or doing mundane activities. You know, the stuff we deal with regularly that doesn’t feel notable or particularly satisfying. In March this year, the journal Pediatrics published a paper on “Facebook depression”, a phenomenon among teens and tweens (and to a lesser extent all users of social media). The findings indicated a correlation between depression and usage of social media, though there is no consensus on which came first. Apparently we all like to stuff our electronic bras, selectively sharing our lives with the world at large in a way that gives the best impression. It’s a natural reaction to an unnatural information society, free of context or body language - a vicious cycle in which our perceived worth is as simple as the number of people who read our updated statuses.

I try to keep it real here, but it’s human nature to make others think we have our act together. We don’t like to feel incompetent or pitiable. In a recent post I whined about how busy and scattered I am, and I do genuinely feel very much that way most mornings these days. But I am optimistic (because I need to be to survive my life right now) and sometimes I might be doing you a disservice by not disclosing more aspects of my less-than-perfect life. So here we go! A good confession is truly cathartic, so I expect to feel better by the end of this as well.

I can be shamefully disorganized at times. For example, my work room:

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Do you like that I have a watermark on that photo? Don’t you dare go trying to put my “studio” on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens now, or I might get litigious. That was an admittedly bad day (thwarted cleaning/organizing in addition to a rain-induced leak in my work area). But still. Would you want to try to work there? I also had some recent shameful disorganization-related incidents at social functions, nearly-missed appointments, etc. I just renewed some library books that were due with mere minutes to spare. My kids aren’t always clean…

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or dressed properly,

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or polite.  

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I cook ugly food most nights for dinner, if I cook at all. 

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And sometimes my best efforts just plain fail.

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(those were supposed to be lighthouse-shaped cookies!!)

I always do my best, but sometimes my best isn’t really something I think you’d want to read about. That’s been happening a lot lately given our family circumstances, and it is partly the cause for fewer posts than I’d like. But it’s my new resolution to be more honest, so hopefully that’ll translate into more posts. Shorter, less entertaining, uglier posts.

See you real soon :)

7 comments:

Jodi said...

I will now start the hashtag "StuffMyElectricBra" whenever I post something braggy on facebook or twitter.

I love your beautiful self. Thank you for this vulnerable post.

Alexis said...

I second Jodi on the stuffing the electric bra analogy! Too perfect!!!!

Roz said...

And here I thought that #stuffingmyelectronicbra meant you carry your iPod around in your brassiere just to keep it handy. I've been known to do that.

Love your reflections, Karen.

Reenie said...

Fabulous post! Reality seems to be a theme in my life lately, although I certainly couldn't come up with an AWESOME term like stuffing my electric bra. Fab. Thanks for your wisdom and honesty, even here on the interwebs :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I was looking for some validation on this exact topic! Facebook envy must be rampant because I have actually de-friended people (secretly) for making 'too perfect posts'. I think I will change my profile pic to a more real/unflattering picture of myself... thanks again. :)

hometown girl said...

hi karen! it's been awhile since i visited but i know exactly what you mean and i do the same. i tend to not post when i have a bad day or want to complain and i have not posted photos of my junk drawers! i'm not on facebook, i tried it for a week. i find it odd when people i barely know want to be my friend or people i haven't seen in 20 years? i find that about blog world though when you think everyone's like is picture perfect all the time, which i think most of us realize is not the case. i've missed visiting with you! susan

Anonymous said...

FB is the biggest lie of the century!!!