Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Snapshots of a Life


Peyton commented recently about how annoyed he gets with some people on Facebook who seem very self-absorbed...constantly posting pictures of themselves, their stuff, ect. It led to some interesting conversation.

First of all, let me acknowledge the obvious: while Peyton and a few other friends use Facebook as basically a "sharing site" for articles, posts, ect. most people I know do not. Most of the people I am friends with on Facebook and Twitter use the forums to share pictures of their kids, updates on their lives, and somewhat frequently, original thoughts on matters of little and great importance. I don't really think there's anything wrong with that, personally. It's interesting to me, actually.

But where the conversation went was about what kind of "picture" we are trying to create of ourselves via social media. Let's face it, however small an audience, my blog allows me to have my own little reality show. In truth, it's rather narcissistic. Let's call it what it is.

This post also got me thinking about perception versus reality. For example, the picture at the top of this post...did I take it because it was a beautiful sunny morning and I was actually enjoying homeschooling my three year old instead of it feeling like I was pulling her toenails off with hot salad tongs..my three year oldwho happened to be wearing one of my favorite soft little cotton dresses and was being just lovely in her interactions with her brother? Or was it because I wanted everyone on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to see what a charmed life I have with the sunshine! chalk! homeschool binder! sweet little girl! The picture feels very quant, very 1950s nostalgic. [Instagram does have that effect, just a little bit, right?] And I love that. And I want the world to see it. Am I any better than the chick showing off a new pair of pearls in Peyton's feed every night?

And then earlier this week my friend Chandler blogged about how part of the reason a lot of people are sick of Facebook is because they're sick of "faking it". It was interesting because I read it after a super hard day which I had been (selectively, of course) somewhat honest about on social media (in the sense that anybody reading my feed knew I was struggling). I think we all have different levels of transparency that we're comfortable with and of course that's fine!

Another thing that got me thinking was a conversation with a friend about the purpose of my blog. She was asking me about some things I had spent a good deal of time focusing on and I was explaining that in reality, they probably weren't as important to me as my blog would lead others to believe. It was an interesting conversation and I remember explaining it to her in the context of how if I were to take up a new activity (running or gardening, for example) there would likely be a plethora of posts about it and lots of pictures. Part of that is that I'm verbose to a fault. But part of it is the picture I like to present of my life on here. If I take up a new hobby, you can be sure it will be on the blog. Some of that is that I want to document it. But some of it is that I feel like this is my craft and I want to couch the things we do with beautiful words and (attempted) beautiful images. I guess that's no different than a scapbooker or someone writing a memoir, in a way.

Which brings me to something else. I still read (and love) some what I call "scrapbook" style blogs (in that they're recording more events than feelings and thoughts) I used to, but it's probably obvious from my link posts that I have really started to gravitate toward a different style blog, too. It's also probably obvious that my blog has changed over the years and some of that's been intentional and some of it has been something I've been oblivious to until I saw it in hindsight.

I don't really think what I've grown tired of is the lack of authenticity and transparency on these blogs I used to read. It's more that I've just gotten to where they just don't interest me in the way they used to (and I'm not talking about personal friends/blogs I've read forever...those will always interest me because of the connection I feel with those people).

That said, it's really important to me to blog in an authentic way. I'm just speaking to myself here, but I know that I want the picture I present to be a very real one. I've read blogs before (some of them full very deep, beautifully written posts and bright artsy photographs) and I wonder is this your life or is this Candy Land? Which is MY ISSUE. But I don't want that to be the issue of anybody reading my blog. [And when I say it that way it sounds sort of arrogant- no I don't think I take gorgeous photographs or write beautiful prose- y'all know what I mean.] I just do try to capitalize on the beauty in order to convey it better. But I also know that I try to delicately craft beautiful words around tough, broken things, too.

The fact is though, it will only ever be snapshots. Even if it is my deep desire for y'all to see ever facet of our lives here (which, know that it's not....not every facet), I could never succeed.  We've probably all read the quote about comparing our "behind the scenes" with everyone else's "highlight reels". The thing is, in this place, I really strive to show both within the boundaries that I (and Peyton...and someday my kids) feel comfortable with. But it will still always be only a snapshot.


Amy said...

i love that you think about these things. and i love the last paragraph. so, so, true. snapshots- only snapshots. but i love that a simple snapshot can bring forth different emotions, memories, and feelings for each person that sees it.

Mallory Pickering said...

Okay interesting thoughts. I think the same thing as Peyton about fb though I think a way to break self absorption is to be interested in the lives of others. Comment on their "snapshots." Encourage them. Post things to make them laugh or think.
I see your blog as a scrapbook type blog. Documenting your life. It's very interesting to me. I am very interested in people and like to know all about them. I would like to encourage you though to put more time into your more reflective, literary writing. Maybe even consider dropping one of your regular posts to devote more time to creative writing. The pieces you write on occasion that are heartfelt are so good and they really showcase your writing style, which I love. Anyway, it's not a criticism at all of the regular posts about your life, children, events, interests, etc. Im always interested in SD! Just an encouragement to explore that other type of writing as well because it's so meaningful when you do. I guess I would call it more of a free writing.