First of all, I want you to know I love social media. I think it is great. I get to keep in contact with friends and family in other towns, states and other countries. I get to see my nieces and nephews several times a week, even though they live two hours away. I’ve never had a problem with negative comments or internet trolls (despite having a friend that’s a troll….you know who you are Smeng Shmolson), after all you can pick and choose who gets to view your stuff. I love that on Instagram you can search your favourite hash tag and find people all around the world who share similar interests. They can inform you, inspire, educate or make you laugh. I usually search gardening related topics. If you search ‘home grown’ you find a lot of pot growers. I hash tagged ‘tampon’ once because I posted a photo of my 5 year old who had made a boat that he had decorated with tampons (he has no idea), then I searched the hash tag to see what else came up…well thousands and thousands of people all over the world with nose bleeds popped up, and they all of course had jammed a tampon up their nose. They all had the same great idea. People are funny.
There is of course the more overtly negative topics you can search, which I have no interest in dwelling on, but many would, and access is as simple and easy. In a few years my children will be teenagers, and the fact that so much harmful content is so easily available frightens me, but that’s a whole other topic and not what I want to talk about today.
Amongst family, friends and acquaintances the negative side of social media is more subtle. Sunshine, rainbows, concerts, parties, waterfalls, kids looking angelic (not at all like the little monsters they are), tender family moments, exotic holiday snaps and healthy food pics…all these pictures scream “see, isn’t my life perfect!!” Photos are cropped, styled and filtered to look their best. It’s only natural that we want to share fun and interesting things, I mean, who wants to see the boring bits of your life? Not me. That’s what Twitter is for…because everyone wants to know you are in a line at the supermarket. Not. That’s why I’m not on Twitter.
I’m as guilty as anyone of doing this. When I look back over all the pictures I’ve posted…I’m impressed. My kids look like they are having a great time, my garden looks to be flourishing, I give the impression I’m eating all things healthy straight from the garden. These things are true sometimes, but not all the time, but all you ever see on social media is the ‘sometimes’ moments and the viewers are left with the impression that it is ‘all the time’. For adults, I think this is where the main danger of social media lies. We watch all our friends having the most wonderful time during their exciting day, and their kids are having the most magical, educational experiences. You see a snap of your friends kids participating at a ‘how things move’ workshop at the Powerhouse Museum on your newsfeed. You glance over your shoulder at your kids plonked in front of the TV watching Postman Pat, in their pyjamas, eating an evil ‘grain’ based breakfast, at 10 AM…and you feel bad.
We just can’t help comparing and potentially having thoughts of ‘I wish my life was that exciting, my kids are missing out, why wasn’t I invited to that party?’ etc
There is a group on social media that I have dubbed ‘the hubby lovers’. Women who post pics of their husband with gushy comments. ‘Love this man, best husband ever, love my hubby, my hubby and me, me and my man’ etc. That’s nice and lovely, but the max quota for this kind of pic is twice a month…not every day. It’s like you’re trying to convince everyone that you have this amazing relationship, or maybe you are trying to convince yourself?? Who knows, but if I was a troll, I’d comment “get a room”. My husband doesn’t engage in social media, so I don’t bother posting my sentiment for the world to see…I like to tell him to his face.
There is also a lot of product placement that goes on, which for the most part is probably intentional. It was this fact that motivated me to write this article. Someone I’m following had posted a picture of the kids playing in the backyard, but had unnecessarily angled the photo so you could see the ocean in the background. I get it, you have a house on the beach. Now we all know and think you are appropriately awesome. A picture of your cat may seem benign, but have carefully placed your new Louis Vuitton handbag right next to it…we can’t miss it, and even though you caption may read ‘I love my Snowball’, it actually says, ‘check out my new $5000 handbag, yeah that’s right, I’m rich. Didn’t you know? Well now you do.’ I personally think spending that much money on a handbag makes you stupid, and probably in debt, don’t get me started.
I hope I don’t sound cynical. I really just want to remind you that when you see and read things on social media it is usually just a snapshot of the best bits of people’s day, week or year. Enjoy, appreciate and admire their experiences, but don’t ever let them get you down, because their life has as many boring bits as yours. When people product place in their photos, see it for what it is, and wonder why they feel they need to do this.
I was going to create a insta-sham day for your enjoyment (complete with product placement), but I have run out of time and energy. So my two brief examples will have to suffice.
Until next time.