I’ve figured it out. THIS is why people like to brag share on social media.
Earlier this week, within a span of 24-hours, I paper mâchéd the shit out of one kid’s Halloween costume, AND made homemade apple crumble. The other kid wrote in her own, newbie, shaky handwriting (with her dad’s help), ‘I LOVE YOU, MOM,’ AND I got them to school on time for the second time in the same week. Also, no one had a fever or bit themselves.
For an entire day.
It was a banner day. And I took, and shared, SO MANY PICTURES OF IT, because, dagnammit, I wanted proof, I wanted external rewards, I wanted a heavy fucking medal to wear around my throat.
I did NOT take pictures of that day last week where a human person in my home put a full finger into another human person’s nose hole, and I didn’t take pictures when one person was banished from swimming at the gym for being a real dick, and so got down on her knees in our front yard in front of God and our neighbors, screaming, “JUST GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANNNNNCE, I SWEAR, MAMA, I’LL DO BETTER,’ as if I were inside, sharpening my punishment weapons. I didn’t take selfies with either of the kids’ teachers, whom I have already had to meet with in the first two months of school, and I also didn’t take selfies of my husband and I as we side-eyed each other, both thinking, “It’s your fault this kid is this way.”
I DID take mad pictures when he and I got dressed up fancy and drank wine at a charity gala event, but didn’t take pictures of the fight over money we had the next day in the midst of a thick hangover. (OK, I did take some pictures of the wounds my dress left on me because sequins are the damned devil and beauty is pain).
My point is….yes, it’s superficial and weak sauce and disingenuous, and it has the potential to harm society by promoting unrealistic expectations of achievable goals, but I totally get it. People post only pics of their kids and spouses being harmonious and adorable, because it feels like a virtual mantel piece, a collection of evidence that we’re not screwing everything up, that occasional things are idyllic.
I once nannied for my little cousins over a summer, and they had this big dumb hunting dog who I hated. I don’t remember why, he was just kind of a dirtbag. Anyway, one day I found a picture of him when he was a puppy, and damn if he wasn’t adorable and endearing. As puppies do.
I kept that puppy picture on the fridge for the moments that the now fully-grown version of him was being a super turd, so that I could look at it and find that place of tenderness in my heart for him…and it helped!
I think that those people who post on social media lives that seem too good to be true, impossibly, blissfully serene and, well, picture-worthy, are probably using those pictures to stir the same affection in themselves for their lives that often feel really hard. No one is without pain, strife, frustration, mistakes, weaknesses, illness, accidents, catastrophes, or tandem nose-picking. We can be mad at people for not being authentic and trying to fool us into believing they’re perfect, but why? We know the truth and aren’t fooled by the sheen.
Now, if they’re hiding from their real stuff, their real problems and fears and pain by fabricating images of a life they don’t at all have- that ain’t right. They’re being critically wounded by that, not analyzing their own needs or truths, or forgiving themselves for their flaws. But if they’re just throwing up the cute, puppy version to help temper the harshness of life, who’s that hurting?