A few weeks ago, an article was brought to my attention, ironically via Social Media. It was called "Stop Instagramming your perfect life". It discussed how resentment, envy and disillusion built up when people see 'perfect' lives betrayed online. I thought about it long and hard...actually I had a gut reaction to it immediately. I see the authors point, but really? Does facebook make me hate my friends? Does instagram look like people are living perfect lives? No.
I do understand. I get envious every time the Design Sponge email lands in my inbox. Filled with beautiful things and gorgeous homes. If I'm having a day where this feeling is acute, I simply scan quickly and move on. But what about social media? You know, I'm actually kind of bored of this discussion. It's not the downfall of humanity or the end of civilization. It's really not. It's not dumbing us down to 140 character sound bites. And it's certainly not bragging about how wonderful our lives look.
I have come to realise that you get out of social media what you put in. I put my hand up to being a lurker on Twitter. I simply marvel at people's ability to be poignant and pithy with so few letters. I'm quick with a quip from the couch or at work, but feel if I was taken out of context I'd look like a bit of an idiot. So I follow the masters of micro-blogging.
On facebook my friends are people I already know. There is a variety of philosophical and political persuasions and even if a debate has raged on a topic, there is enough understanding to appreciate a different point of view - or we agree to disagree. I've noticed that facebook has moved away from people chatting, towards people sharing memes or following things of interest (like political discussions, hobbies, shopping etc). We've lost a little bit of our mojo for connecting with friends like we used to. I think this is a shame.
Instagram is my social media crush. I love looking at the world as though my eyes were a camera. I love capturing memories through pictures. I always have. Ever since my first film camera when I was about 13. I have stumbled onto peoples lives, and weirdly there is some sort of venn diagram of followers. There is lots of different communities and much crossover in who follows who. What this means is that we are kind of making our own community. I have actually (and rather delightfully) met 6 people from Instagram...in person. And I've joined an Instameet group and found new people too. This is a cool thing.
I think we all know someone who uses social media to complain about their lives. Constantly. It does become a little 'woe, is me' after a while. Especially if you see people complaining but not doing anything to change the situation or take people's advice. But, the flip side of this is people who are being honest on social media. Not just about whether they think Tony Abbott is a cunt (sorry - I couldn't help myself). But honest about themselves and their lives. NO ONE has a life without ups and downs. No matter how beautiful your home is, or how great your holiday looked online. Life is hard. And some days it can be very hard indeed. My beautiful husband has posted photos of his anti-depressants and hashtagged his battle with anxiety. People have commented on how I bare my soul through this blog. It's true. But somehow sharing and being open about the downs as well as the ups, sets you free. There's no hiding.
So this morning I posted a photo to FB and Instagram that I have shared below. I am holding a bag of frozen peas against my swollen eyes. I've had little sleep and spent many hours crying. Life is just so fucking hard some days. And there amongst the images of dinners out, or trips to the theatre or watching bands, is the other side of a real life. I did it not to evoke sympathy and get attention (although there has been a heartfelt response). I did it to prove that social media is more than perfection. There are people who care. I have followed people online and watched relationships break down, and family members die. I was I moved and felt honoured that they shared a difficult part of their life with me. And it is this honesty that people respond to, and that helps create relationships and communities.
So as I said. Like 'real' life - you get out what you put in. And I prefer the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.