Suzanne Heintz got tired of being asked when she was going to settle down and get married, so she created a fictional family of mannequins and started taking all sorts of “family” photos with them. She’s an artist who explores image. It’s really worth checking out! I find the photos intriguing because she does all the classic poses–except her family is obviously made of fiberglass. But really… not so different from the photos we put out there of our own families!
I think we’re all pretty image conscious in these days of social media. Our families have become a sort of badge. We post cute photos of the kids, a “totally spontaneous!” picture of the hubby kissing us, which only took about four takes to get right, because frankly we looked a little jowly in the other three… We put it out there as proof of— I’m not even sure what it’s proof of. Our value? The fact that we’re loved? Proof that we’re doing this thing called life “right?”
There have been different waves going through Facebook. At first, everyone posted absolute perfection until they made their friends want to gag. “Sally Mae just loves her dance class! Here she is trying to tie her own slippers.” “Greg says I’m cute first thing in the morning. Don’t know what he sees! LOL!” “A perfect Fall morning… enjoying the sunrise with a hazelnut mochaccino.”
Then people did gag, and the wave changed. Then it turned to Realism–pictures of dirty laundry, a messy counter, kids covered in peanut butter and ruined pedicures. I’m not perfect, we proclaimed. I’m not perfect at all! Look at what a mess I am! I’m surprised I’m allowed to keep my kids! My husband? Heck, we fought for three hours this morning over burnt toast! I’m totally down to earth and real.
So we silently judged our “real” friends on social media and truly wondered why their children weren’t taken away. Except that wasn’t “real”, either. It was just the worst moments of the day documented for our pleasure. The poop in the tub, the burnt meal, the guilty looking dog.
And now? People are a lot quieter on social media now. We don’t share as much. We keep a little more to ourselves. We close the doors more often and enjoy those perfect mornings and snuggles with those we love in privacy. We no longer glamorize our messy homes. We just carry on, and post a message to a Facebook pal, finalizing plans for dinner.
I think we learned that when we put ourselves out there to be judged, 50% of the people will pat us on the back, and the other 50% will judge us. It doesn’t matter if you post perfect pictures or “real” pictures. I doesn’t matter if you think your kid’s joke was cute or not. You will never make 100% of the people go “Awwww….”
But do you know what we can do? We can just be us. I’m pretty sure I was given that advice in my school days— Just be yourself! It might not be such bad advice to revisit. I like you and you like me. Good enough. 🙂