Can I be really honest for a minute? I have a love/hate relationship with the love/hate relationship we all seem to have towards social media.
It has become clear that the thing we love to do is complain about those things or people we see on social media that appear to be “perfect”. And I get it. Our society is warped in standards and what we expect of people so the pressure is on, but can we honestly be so naive in thinking that someone’s life could possibly be perfect? Free from any hardships, pain or trial? Most of us are adults and should have enough common sense to deduce that everyone deals with things and on different levels. And we should know that no one’s life can be free from it. So why do we spend so much time trying to start a movement? Trying to shame those who only post the “good stuff”? Why? So we can feel better about ourselves? If it makes anyone feel better right now, please know that I wrote this blog post in my sweatpants. At 3:00 in the afternoon. Last Saturday. While eating ice cream.
Let me come at this a different way. Take Facebook for example. We all know THAT Facebook “friend”. The one who is constantly complaining or whining about something. Or posting those annoying vague status updates that are ridiculously passive aggressive. You know – the status update that they want people to ask about, but can’t say outright because the person they are being passive aggressive towards is probably ON Facebook? So we complain about them. And we make jokes about how predictable their postings are. And we may even comment on what a hot mess they are. And then we move on.
However, what if that same person posted only positive things? What if they only posted selfies when their hair is perfect, when their kids look like they just stepped out of a Pottery Barn ad, when their house seems to be a project of Martha Stewart’s and that everything in their life always goes exactly as planned? Oh, and they always seem to be on vacation. What then? We would still complain, yes? Because now they are throwing it in our faces. And being fake. Are we seeing the vicious cycle we have created? #WhereDoesItEnd
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Am I right? And while we are on the subject. What is so wrong with selfies? Thank goodness for modern technology because it is allowing us to actually be SEEN in the stories we tell of our lives and families. I for one am grateful and will continue to rock a selfie here and there. Of course, it’s usually the 16th or 17th take, but that’s beside the point.
I have to admit, I have a mixed reaction when I meet someone for the first time who I find out has followed me on Instagram for awhile. I have had people tell me that my kids are absolutely beautiful (which I always agree with of course) or that I have the most amazing job or even that my everyday life must be “the best thing ever”. #TrueStory. My first reaction is, “Oh honey, if you only knew” and then I make sure and tell them how real my life really is and we go on to joke about the crazy places we have found food in our homes thanks to the joy of raising
animals kids. My second reaction is, “Score! I am doing my job right as a photographer and curator of beautiful imagery”. Do I feel guilty that they were thinking those things? I try not to. Only because I know from one adult to another, everyone deals with stuff. And just because I choose not to air my dirty laundry on a social network doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. #PassMeTheDowny
A few years back I found myself sitting in a conference room in Las Vegas filled with hundreds of photographers listening to the beautiful Elizabeth Messina speak. She is a gifted photographer and as she touched on social media and the effect it can have, she said something that resonated with me. Speaking to the subject of people saying that her life is perfect and beautiful she said, “I deal with things just like everyone else, but what I share, these glimpses of my every day, they are beautiful because that is how I see my life.”
I am an artist and what I put out there is a direct reflection of me, my brand, my skill and my eye. I have booked work based off of what another company or brand has seen me post or style for a photograph. And the little glimpses of my personal life is the way I see them. I simply want what I put on social media to be beautiful. Not perfect, mind you. Because remember? Perfection and I broke up a long time ago. However, my own approach to social media is the same approach I have towards anything else out in public: You put your best foot forward when walking out into the world. Would I go to Target in my pajamas? Never. So why would I treat social media and what I am putting out there in the world any different?
So let’s let go of this naive sense that what someone posts on social media is the whole story. Let’s let go of this game of shaming that we have been doing for far too long. If you are one of the real and raw ones, more power to you and I will continue to enjoy your openness. If you are an artist and love curating your own personal collection of beautiful images, keep doing what you do because I, for one, am inspired by it. And for those of you that only post pictures of your kids when they look like they just stepped out of a Pottery Barn ad? Just know that my kids are rockin’ breakfast on their faces and runnin’ around in the buff at 1:00 in the afternoon. And the world continues on.
And to the girl who teaches me everyday how to take a great selfie. #IDontKnowWhereSheGetsIt