Imagine we’re friends and I’ve invited you to my place for dinner. Because I don’t want to appear fake and life-shame you somehow, the dinner table conversation plays out like this:
“Here’s some snags and some bread. We’ve run out of butter but just put some sauce on it and it should be fine. I was going to buy steak, but we had a really high electricity bill this quarter so we can’t afford it. Excuse my pjs. I’m having a shit day and couldn’t be arsed getting dressed. I know that you won’t mind though – no airs and graces for you! Just keeping it real. Isn’t your son so well behaved? I’d love for him to be able to play with my sons but they’re both in a time-out in their bedroom ‘cause they refused to pick their toys up off the lawn and are now refusing to talk because they hate their family. Oh and my husband was planning to be here but we had a fight this morning and he doesn’t really like you much anyway so he’s gone to Bunnings. Pardon? You’d like to use the toilet? Of course! But don’t sit on the seat. I haven’t had a chance to wipe the piss off.”
When you invite people over for dinner, don’t you clean the house? Don’t you wear something nice and cook something delicious? Do you serve it on a lovely, set table with some matching [or purposely mismatched] serviettes? Haven’t we always shared our ‘highlight reel’?
I’m so tired of hearing people complain about other people only ever sharing their ‘highlight reel’ on social media. What is so wrong with it and why do they care?
Seriously people. Our whole fucking life is a highlight reel. It’s called manners. And discretion. There are only a handful people that see the whole catastrophe of my family life. I have 300 friends on Facebook. I don’t bullshit to them but I also don’t tell them about every shitty part of my life. Nor would I tell someone that I hardly know if I caught up with them at a party. “So nice to see you again Tania! It’s been ages – how are things?” “Oh y’know – pretty shit. Motherhood does my head in. We don’t have enough money to do anything. My kids have got attitude. My husband is stressed all the time and I’ve put on 8 kilos in the last 12 months. But enough about me - how about you?”
I’ve shared before that I, happily, live a very ordinary life. I think that’s cool and I’m authentic in all my online antics but there’s also some stuff that’s not just mine to share. I’m married and, believe it or not, we have our challenges. But whilst I’m a chronic over-sharer, my husband is the complete antithesis. It’s not up to me to air our sometimes dirty laundry to all and sundry in an attempt to share my life ‘warts and all’. My kids throw tantrums. I argue with my mum. My house is often in disarray which often matches my hair. Sometimes the frypan that I cooked dinner in on Monday is still sitting, dirty on the stove top on Thursday. Sometimes I cook wholesome, organic, from-scratch family meals and sometimes I wipe that dirty fry pan and whip up a sausage sizzle for dinner.
I’m normal. Just like you are. But I’m not obligated to share every ‘normal’ part of my life with everyone I’m connected to, to avoid some sort of social media misconception. I am not responsible for your feelings of guilt. Just as you [or anyone] is responsible for mine. This whole business of people feeling worse about themselves because of the ‘highlight reels’ their social media friends dare to share online drives me nuts. Would these same people be pissed off if every time they were invited to someone’s house that the kids were on their best behavior and the house was tidy and the host couple seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company in their new outfits? Would they leave that house believing that their host’s intention was to prove to them how much better they were at ‘life’ than their guests. Would they leave feeling shamed and offended that their hosts had dared to be so ‘fake’?
There just seems to be someone pissed off about someone else’s use of social media every fucking day. What does anybody care? If I only ever show myself looking gorgeous with my gifted and talented children while my flawless husband is off hunting and gathering when he’s not cooking the perfect bbq – who cares? Do they need to see behind the scenes? What makes people think any of that is about them? What makes people think that me showing only the awesome bits of my life is shaming their life? Maybe all us hateful fakebookers are sharing the ‘highlight reel’ as an exercise in gratitude. You know, that there are positive parts of our otherwise normal, boring, messy lives. Or maybe it just doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else at all.
You know what shits me? Breakfast updates and some trending awareness campaign that shows up a million times in my newsfeed and pictures of cats and stupid passive aggressive vague updates and any story about the Kardashians. But do I care?
Nope. I just scroll past and get on with my sometimes awesome life.
And I think that’s what we all should do.