I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I have done Facebook and Instagram in the past, and I run a vicious circle of getting irritated and going cold turkey off both of them, and then needing them to communicate with people and turning them back on. Facebook especially is just so darn useful. I just sold most of my furniture on FB Marketplace in preparation for the big move.
Then there’s this blog. I get a ton of enjoyment from writing and sharing pictures of my life. I am not particularly beautiful and I’ll never be an “influencer” based on my looks, but aspects of my life are very beautiful. I own and care for magnificent horses and I spend a lot of time outside in stunning scenery. I enjoy sharing those experiences with the world. I love taking pictures while I’m out on a hike or an adventure with my kids, and I especially enjoy capturing the beauty and antics of my horses. Not everyone gets to have horses, and I feel like sharing mine through this blog is a way of letting other people experience how delightful they are.
There’s a dark side to it, though. Because I’m planning on sharing my life, I find myself thinking about how best to package it for consumption. I have to become a disinterested observer of my own life in order to decide which parts make a compelling story or a beautiful image. Very rarely do I leave my phone behind because I feel that I might miss an opportunity to take a great photo.
I read a viral Facebook post a while ago about going to the neighborhood pool and watching a scene unfold between a woman and her little daughter. The woman and her daughter were both in cute swimsuits, and the woman had full hair and makeup done. She was clearly sponsored by a sunscreen company, as she set up some shots of herself and her daughter using the sunscreen. The little girl was chattering on and clearly excited about going swimming with her mother, but she sat obediently for the photos. And then they left. They never even got in the pool. The daughter obviously thought they were there to swim and have a good time, but for the mother it was nothing but an obligatory photo shoot, just another day at the office.
After I read that, I made a vow to myself that I would never let my blog or social media become fake like that. I have tried very hard to keep it organic, to take pictures of my real life, things I would do whether there was a camera around or not.
I also refuse to use editing software for my face. I choose pictures of myself that I like, but I don’t airbrush my wrinkles out or use filters that fix all my flaws. That’s a line I won’t cross. I am a real person with real wrinkles and blemishes, and that is okay. I don’t want to participate in making other women feel that they don’t measure up. You don’t have to be uncommonly beautiful to live an uncommonly beautiful life. I’m proof of that.
I’ve also thought long and hard about how much of my children’s lives to share. There are some things that are simply off limits. My kids have quirks and struggles like anyone else’s kids, but I don’t talk about those things publicly. My kids aren’t old enough to tell their own stories, or to consent to having them told, so those things are not for public consumption.
I read some mommy blogs and cringe at the things people tell about their children, for money no doubt. There is a fine line between sharing a story to potentially help someone struggling with a similar issue, and mining our children’s live for content. I made the decision to leave my kids out of it.
Social media is so new that we don’t fully know how it’s changing us. Someday we’ll hear some young person talk about how he feels he missed his childhood because his mother was glued to her phone and constantly shoving a camera in his face. Make no mistake, there will be a backlash to the oversharing. This is the first generation of children whose lives were used as profit centers for their parents, similar to the way child stars make money for everyone else, often at the expense of their own mental health.
I encourage anyone who utilizes a social media platform, especially if you’re sharing about your kids, to think through how you present yourself and what you share about your children. Privacy isn’t a bad thing.