Let’s be real….

This a little bit of a rant, so brace yourself.  After a very interesting (and frustrating) conversation with someone close to me yesterday I was reminded of something that I have often thought about, albeit in a fleeting manner. The following verbal vomit is the result of some less fleeting, more focused thinking on the matter:

SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL.  I think that on the surface we are aware of this.  But when we follow our friends and our non-friends, celebrities, pseudo-celebrities and a whole host of other veritable strangers on instagram, facebook, snapchat, blogs blah blah blah, we can lose sight of this critical fact.  While some people use social media to further their own agendas (think politics… or celebrity image…. or marketing of products and ideas), some of us are also using it as a way to keep in touch, as an outlet, or even with the hope of helping others.  It actually doesn’t matter what the original intent is, as long as we can remember that SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL.

My blog, instagram and facebook accounts all reflect true experiences in my life.  But as a whole they are a fantasy.  I don’t post a lot of instagram photos of me crying in my bedroom with a glass of wine in a coffee go-cup (so that the dog doesn’t judge me and so the kids don’t think that drinking is an appropriate coping mechanism…hypocritical, I know), and a bag of chocolate that I would NEVER let my kids have because it is absolute trash.  I don’t post them because I don’t actually photograph these moments.  And I’d actually prefer not to remember them. But perhaps I should.  I don’t post on facebook when someone says something shitty to me that makes me want to punch them in face, nor do I post when I say something shitty to someone and hurt their feelings.  I don’t post about how I didn’t talk to my husband for 3 days because neither of us have figured out how to find balance in our lives and so we sometimes unwittingly sacrifice our time together or the times I pretended to be asleep because I was too tired to…. I’ll let you fill in the blank on that one.  I don’t post about my bad parenting moments (you guys DO NOT HAVE TIME to read about all of them…they happen at least hourly most days).

I have had friends and acquaintances tell me they admire me, or that I’m a good mom, and that they couldn’t do what I’m doing.  While I do think I’m a good mom, and I try really hard to be great (some days…some days I say eff it, and grab the coffee go cup…).  But I wonder now, when those people are looking at my facebook, instagram or this blog, do they think my life is really like what is reflected online?  And do they feel worse about themselves because of it?  If so, I hope you are reading this now.  We are a normal family with a consistent ebb and flow of joy, anger, sorrow, yelling, hugging, laughing, door-slamming, stomping, chatting, nagging, eye-rolling, frustration, contentment and discontent.  I think most adults can reconcile this with some conscious effort.

Here is what worries me.  My daughters use social media.  A lot.  My dancer follows Tate McRae (Calgary dancer same age as McKenna who is currently the likely winner of So You Think You Can Dance), and if that’s all the context you have about Tate, it looks like she never has a bad day, loves every second of her dance training, has a perfectly happy and supportive family who are always smiling, never feels disappointed, never is exhausted and just wants to go to bed, never has a fight with her friends.  Multiply this by the 10s or 100s of social media accounts my kids follow, and I wonder if their perspective is altered by these ‘real’ people and their perfect lives.  Do my kids look at their friends and celebrities and think their own lives pale in comparison?  It’s a bit like how magazines used to be the evil that convinced us our bodies were not good enough, multiplied by a gazillion.  It’s no longer a few supermodels airbrushed in magazines.  It’s everyone.  Absolutely everyone.  And they all seem to have perfect lives.  Avi follows a YouTube family.  This family records moments of their lives and posts them weekly on YouTube.  Once again, a real family.  But NONE of the bad stuff.  The time mom and dad had a huge fight about money – nope, not on there.  The time the brother closed-fist punched his snotty little sister because she was being a PIA…Nope, edited out.  IT IS NOT REAL.  But for 11 & 13 year olds, who have grown up in the social media era, can they really reconcile this?  Or do they just look at themselves, and find themselves lacking?

I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what to do about it.  I limit the time the kids can spend on technology, which in turn limits their time on social media.  I’d love to take it away altogether, but I know they will just create secret accounts (if they haven’t already) and then I’ll be in a worse position.  All we can do is talk about it.  And I am going to use myself as the example to illustrate it to them.  They know the realities of living in this house.  So we are about to engage in a family project where we look at my social media accounts, and compare them to the reality.  Maybe that will help promote some understanding of how all social media (and regular old media, for that matter) only tells one small part of the story.  Looks like Berrik isn’t the only one getting some homeschoolin’ this year.

3 Comments

  1. SherryAnn says:

    Chandra this is so well written, and I totally feel what your feeling. I have such a love hate relationship with social media. I just love that we can write so freely about what is happening in our lives but I constantly have this nagging feeling that people are judging. I also don’t always say what kind of bad day I am having because I am wanting to focus on the moments that are moments of blessing that truly get me through the day! Sigh…. being a parent in this social media filled years is hard stuff. PS… I think the girls are going to love your idea!

  2. Raabis says:

    Well done Chandra! Ironically the only reason I saw this was because I have been unsubsribing to all the spam emails I get in my inbox – crazy how many you get everyday and you don’t even realize it – Facebook was the first one I saw this morning. I don’t need an email from Facebook every time someone I know posts a photo. Perhaps we can have supper with the families one day and engage in the real world – I would love to see how the kids are doing , how they are growing and changing in real life. Usually a few glasses of wine and we can all relate our behind the scenes stories and have a good laugh – usually they are real belly laughs and you feel good afterward because you’ve actually exposed your real life. It’s a free feeling knowing you are not the only ones who have not only ups but downs (these are usually the funniest storis anyway). Have a great weekend, send me a text or give us a call when you guys have some time to get together and we can have a laugh or discuss some issues in person. Love ya Raabis

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