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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  1. What a great post Hayley - I think behind the scenes of every perfect picture, there is probably a mountain of ironing, dishes waiting to be done and toys strewn on the floor! ;-) Maybe we should start a revolution and start instagramming that! xx

  2. Giggling away
    None of mine are edited in anyway, I'm a mum of 2 kids who rarely has time for a cup cuppa let alone taking a pic 20 times hehe

  3. Love, love, LOVE this post. Brilliantly written and so honest. I think you have summed up what a lot of people feel about social media, and in particular, Instagram at the moment. So glad it's not just me that thought this too, and that it took me a while to catch on to how the staged photos work. Very refreshing! Xx

  4. Oh and like Katie said above, start a revolution! Empty coffee cups, ironing piles, toys strewn everywhere, a kitchen table covered in clutter. I'd Instagram that if it made even one person feel better!

  5. I kind of wish I could snap those lovely posed photos (I do them sometimes with products) but most of mine are blurry ones of me and the kids with mess in the background lol

  6. Loved loved loved this post. So honest and so true - I've actually mentioned it in my latest blog post. xxx

  7. So with you on all that - had a major meltdown after a blogging conference recently when I realised I wasn't doing anything like the amount required to compete with all the travel and parenting lifestyle blogs I love (and Instagram) - then I sat back and thought about - people like reading blogs like yours for the raw reality - same with me as a single mum. Then I took the piss out of a 'what's in your handbag" post - because, as we know, as parents - could be any old shit in there, not 12 items that are from Chanel and anyway, just saying, I think it's important to remain true to yourself and not get caught up in all the bollocks! Lx

  8. I know I'm definitely guilty of editing/ cropping the background for my photos. My hubby never cares what's in the background and he'll photograph the kids with mess, washing, the loo etc behind him and it annoys the hell out of me, I think partly because I'm embarrassed what people will think if my house looks untidy and partly because if I'm a bit OCD and if I am going to Instagram or even frame a photo then I don't want to have to see the mess in the background. But until I read this post, I never once stopped to think that as a blogger I could make anyone else feel insecure because of this. Thanks for sharing such an honest and original post Hayley
    Becca xx

  9. Post's like this are one of the reasons why i love your blog so much as you keep it real and let everyone know that life is not perfect at all. I see so many bloggers wit perfect homes portraying the perfect life and i just take it with a pinch of salt as noone is perfect. My house sometimes has toys everywhere and someday's my toddler and baby are nightmares and i don't get dressed until midday, i am glad to see you are the same as that is how life should be when you have two young children. I love how you show people the reality behind the photos xx

  10. I wrote a long reply and hit sign out by accident *doh* ....fantastic post!!! I like your blog as it is really real, (apart from what you mentioned lol that's allowed!)


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