The Sugar Coating of Social Media
For years, I've wondered how others make parenting look so easy. They all look so happy, all of the time. And gradually it has dawned on me that social media is like an imperfection filter. Any flaws or moments of unhappiness are simply sifted before we hit the share button.
Our timelines are full to bursting with happiness. Beautiful shots of our kids on beaches, selfies on sofas, posh meals out, loved up couples and happy family times that rightly deserve a like and a comment. The good bits.
This is, of course, only natural. We hit delete on the photos that give us four chins. Or those where our children look anything other than cute. We share statuses reflecting good news, good friends, good times.
But what lies beneath? What about the other times? I don't mean the 'I'm so pissed off right now' cryptic statuses that wind everybody up (if you're not going to share why you are 'absolutely fuming' then don't bother telling us all, just a thought).
I mean the everyday gripes of normal life. For every nice shot of my boys I know I have ten more that should never see the light of day. For every 'this little monkey got me up early' status there are ten ‘shit, this is bloody hard work, pass the wine' thoughts underneath. Our instinct is to share the airbrushed version, the Instagram edit, the specially selected statuses. The original photos, the days we would sell a kidney to have some kid-free time and the mundane everyday statuses are the real 'news feeds' that go unreported.
Since starting this blog, I have received an overwhelming number of messages from other mums who tell me they have really struggled. They have felt like they are failing. They have felt alone. They have largely felt that it has simply not been okay to share moments of difficulty or boredom or frustration when everybody else is coping so well. Or so it seems. I've come to realise this is probably why people bother to read my random blog musings at all - because regardless of whether my posts are any good they have always been based on what the reality is for me at that time.
Of course, I will continue to use Instagram (way slimmer in Valencia) and periodically pose my boys for snaps, and tell you when I am so very happy. But I will also balance it out with the other stuff because a montage solely of the best bits is not who I am.
If you are having a bad day (or week) just remember that your Facebook timeline or Twitter feed should come with a disclaimer. You may feel like everybody else has the life you want but in reality, they may not even always have the life they want.
Social media is not real life.