Friday, 24 April 2015

Stepping Out Of Stepford

Just like most other bloggers, Instagram has become something I use every day...

My iPhone is permanently glued to my hand, and since the memory on it was eaten up with 5,000+ pictures that I never get around to transferring anywhere - having the Instagram app has been a lifesaver as it still allows me to snap photos when my standard iPhone camera doesn't!
It also lets me edit them and share them to Facebook right away....ideal for lazy people like me who want to show the grandparents 250 miles away the latest cute photo of my sons but can't be bothered with the hassle of logging in to different websites, uploading, etc.

I only started using Instagram about a week before Tyne was born....I now have just over 1,500 followers on there...not a great deal compared to many but when I compare that figure to the number of people I actually KNOW in reality, it's considerably higher!

But lately I've been noticing a huge difference in the way that I personally use Instagram and the way tons of the people I follow use Instagram.

While I was scrolling through my feed from my sick bed today, I noticed that only 10% of the images I was seeing were natural looking snapshots of a persons day to day life....the other 90% were far more posed, more staged, and designed to create a certain look.

When I looked closer at peoples was easy to see that I've been pretty naive where Instagram is concerned...instead of using it as a sort of online album of snapshots like I have been, many of the people I follow are using it to portray and sell a lifestyle and an image.

Their accounts are filled with perfectly lit images of immaculate homes, pretty trinkets and decorative touches in corners of rooms, posed children in beautiful outfits with cushions seemingly casually strewn across a bed but - upon closer inspection - clearly deliberately placed just-so.

And it got me thinking....and it got me wondering....

It's a similar story with blogs, of course.

With magazine sales on the decline, blogs and online media are the new black....and whereas a family blog was once a space for a parent to keep a record of their childs life and share their motherhood anecdotes, I'm now noticing a trend that leans much more heavily toward lifestyle blogging - and really what is a lifestyle blog if it's not selling a lifestyle?

It's all about image, and there's nothing wrong with that...but I feel a little silly for not having realised so before.

I also feel a little silly for not having realised that I myself have become part of it - I see what looks good on other Instagram accounts and I become conscious of it when I snap my own images. And I try harder to conform to what is the current trend for selling perfection in the social media and blogging world.

Always happy, always smiling, always bright, always clean, never an item out of place, everything so white and pristine, everything perfectly baked.....everything so samey....every feed looking exactly like the next persons.....Same colour schemes...Same brand of laptop...same screen saver...same Anthropologie mugs....

When did this Stepford World Of Social Media start? And why didn't I realise sooner that I was slowly edging my way toward becoming a part of it?

When I get a higher number of "likes" than usual on an Instagram photo, I feel good....but why?

 Because a "like" signifies what exactly? Admiration? Success? Envy?

I fear it may be the latter in many cases.

I can't count the number of times I've looked at a high profile Instagrammers photos of her perfectly dressed newborn daughter laying in her perfectly decorated and spotlessly clean nursery, as her mother poses looking beautiful, elegant, stylish and effortless all at once next to her....

And I've thought to myself: Why can't I look that way? Why isn't my home that clean and tidy? Why doesn't my child sleep that well and allow me the time to make that photograph possible?

And then I suddenly stopped and thought to myself....When people like the images that I post, do they ever feel that way too? If my photos are edited and posed to look a certain way, does that create that envious feeling in somebody else? That feeling of not being enough?

And if it does....why would I want to do that?!

Is that a feeling I really want to impose on another person...whether I intended to or not?

Because you know, when you look a little closer at some of these can see the cracks.

I took note of one particular image on the feed of a very high profile instagrammer from the US who I have followed and admired for a while, and I tried to recreate it myself...

This was the image I ended up with:

It got a fair amount of likes on social media....It portrays quite a glam look....and the tagline I put with it suggested I was enjoying an afternoon of preening and pampering myself while my son napped.

In reality....he was on the floor next to me playing with his toys, and I was wearing my pyjama bottoms, with no make up on my face except for my lipstick....My bed wasn't made yet and I hadn't yet managed to eat breakfast....


And that's when I realised how easy it is to fool the world with a carefully staged photograph on Instagram or a blog.

Remember my recent Babyliss hair curler review where it looked like I was taking my time to curl my hair in peace?

This was the reality...with my son demanding that I stop every 10 seconds to read him his took about 45 minutes to curl my hair that day for those photos!

On any given day, there will be toys strewn across my living floor while my son plays the day away....there will be dishes piled up in the sink....there will be half-drunk cups of cold coffee laying about for hours that I never got a chance to finish....there will be tears and tantrums (and that's just from me!)....

Life is not picture perfect...I don't believe that anybodys is.

Perfect mothers do not exist - everybody has their down days, every body blows their top sometimes, every body gets stressed and everybody feels overwhelmed.

Perfect children do not exist - they all cry, they all have nights of bad sleep, they all have tantrums at some point.

Perfect relationships do not exist - everybody bickers or fights sometimes, you can't see eye to eye 100% of the time (I can't think of anything more boring if I`m honest!)

And as nice as it is to see those perfect images published on Instagram, I think it would do us all a lot of good to remember that a perfect Instagram shot does not a perfect life make.

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