rejoice in the complications9:05 PM
Lately I've noticed myself retreating from social media a bit. I haven't been as active or engaged, at least on the outside. However, in my mind I suppose you could say I've been more active than ever in the sense that I've been thinking about it a lot.
I feel like this year saw a seismic shift happen when it came to blogging and social media. Increasingly I found myself heading deeper and deeper into the recesses of both to find authentic, un-sponsored content. Old standbys of mine "bit the dust" so to speak and new ones all told the same story of "sponsored by..." And along with all the sponsorship and product placement came a higher emphasis on curation or what we've all come to call an "aspirational lifestyle." And I haven't been innocent of the bug either. More often than not I find my daily life "not acceptable enough" to fit into that little square - it's not pretty enough, not curated enough, not perfect enough, not shiny enough. And so I pass. I pass on Teddy eating watermelon for the first time because it takes place outside with harsh lighting (i.e. a very gorgeous sunny day), on a dirty blanket and with mismatched clothes. I pass on how adorable Birdie looks reading a book to her doggie because the playroom is a den of destruction and the "frame would look too busy." I pass on a photo of my little tribe cuddling on the floor of the living room because it "wouldn't look perfect" and who wants that? My iphone is a treasure trove of #fromthecuttingroomfloor.
And yet... And yet I see a call for more "realness," not just from myself but as a quiet, building chorus in comments sections and forums. I hear people say things like "I miss blogging circa 2008" or "I used to relate to you when you were more open/authentic/genuine/raw." And though it's true you can't rewind time and we can't go back to the way things were when blogging was new and exciting and warm and fuzzy I would like to think we can at least try. But as someone on the blogging end and the reader end I have to say it's incredibly hard. It's difficult because it does not appear that those qualities that people claim they pine for are validated. The popular blogs, IG, twitter accounts are not the "real" ones, in fact it seems that the more curated your version of life the better. The accounts with mass followings are nothing but beautifully decorated coffee tables that sit upon rare vintage rugs, endless walls of subway tile, babies in white onesies frolicking in dreamy backyards and airy quotes about the way motherhood (even on the bad days) is still, ultimately, the most wonderful, magical, fulfilling, beautiful and lovely job in the world!!
And don't get me wrong - I am a terribly aesthetic person. I love beautiful things!! I look at these pictures and I get all the heart eyes too. But... but I fear that too much of this leaves very little room for real life. Because when we connect with people, when we feel that delicious feeling of "me too" it's rarely over the fact that "oh my gosh! me too! i also have the cleanest, whitest kitchen in all the land!" No, we connect over "me too!! my toddler also made me want to rip out my hair today!" or "me too!! i've also been wearing my bathrobe all day because i'm sick as a dog and just trying to survive with two tiny and incredibly needy humans!" We need others not when life is perfect but in the exact opposite of perfect - when things feel like they're crumbling and we're just barely hanging on. It's in those moments that we want to reach out our hand and say "will you walk with me?" And yes, that means making yourself vulnerable and taking a risk but very often the reward is a human connection, however small, that makes an impact on your life.
My father once told me that the best works of art are never about the "good times," no these works of art are celebrated and loved because they dare to grab the messiest, ugliest parts of life and say "this is still good, this is still beautiful, this is still valid, this is still LIFE." And I fear that with all this curating and perfection we're going to miss out on the whole reason we loved social media/blogging in the first place - the human connection. Because perfection or the "highlight reel" leaves a bad taste in our mouth, more often than not, it makes us all feel less than, alone and bitter. "Why not me?" we often ask ourselves when seeing someone's vacation, gleaming home or perfect children. And then I feel that there just ends up being a lot of "yuck" passed around online and it's not even based in reality. How do I know this? I know this because the few times that someone dares to pull back the curtain a bit and really let us into their homes or lives we feel camaraderie, understanding and the "me too."
Because at the end of the day we're all the same really. We all want to love and be loved, we want our children to know that they make our world go round and we want to tell our husband's "I'm so happy you're home!" more often than we say "Can you hold the baby?" We are all tired and doing our best and dream of one day in the future getting to go to Target alone because spa days are nice but can you even imagine getting to enjoy the Nate Berkus aisle without someone whining for you to buy yet another "hideaway pet???" Because we all forget to take our makeup off some nights and want to read more than one chapter before passing out in bed. We all want to lose the baby weight and fit into our pre-pregnancy jeans and remember what it is like to leave the car with just a purse and one's keys. Because for most of us finances are tight and budgets are not cute little diagrams that live on Rifle Paper notebooks but are lines of scary numbers inside the awfulness that is Microsoft Excel. And because we just want to feel connected, loved, appreciated, cared for, understood and validated.
And what do we as bloggers offer to our readers who spend so much time making us feel wonderful? A few giveaways for purses and rings here and there? I just don't think that's good enough. That's why there is such a disconnect right now. We're no longer connected to each other instead there is a glass divider between the "aspirational lifestyle" of the blogger and the real life of the reader. There's no possibility for a connection, only window shopping. And as any of us know the more we window shop and the more we feel like we can't have the things behind the glass the more frustrated and bitter we feel.
It's inevitable of course, more often than not all things that start out as art end up going the way of the dodo bird. And it's not completely a bad thing. I think it's fantastic that in some instances it gives mamas a way to stay home with their babies and make some money too. I also think it's fantastic that so many women are being paid for all the hard work and endless hours that they pour into these blogs. I think it's incredible that so many of us have been able to parlay something that started as a journal into a full-blown career. However, we have to be careful here. We have to remember that this is a two-way street between writer and reader. We have to remember who helped us get to where we are. We have to remember that "sponsors" ARE NOT the most important part of this equation. We have to remember that sometimes it really pays off to feel like the black sheep, to come out and say - "HERE I AM!! Here are my flaws, my mistakes, my messes and they all live happily alongside all the beauty, achievements and gifts I have." Life is up and down, messy and clean, happy and sad, good and bad. People are all of those things too. Some people are in our life to lift us up, some are there to help us learn and grow, some are there to make us laugh, others bring tears. I think if we allow ourselves to dig deep and look at things holistically we will realize that everyone that has ever orbited around us has taught us something (emphasis on something).
Some are saying that blogging is already dead and for all intent and purposes it would seem that way. I think we're almost there, we're living in the twilight of blogging so to speak. Perhaps that means that we should just take what we can and leave it all behind. However, that doesn't seem right to me. Blogging helped me find my voice, write my way through so much pain and angst of my twenties and make some lifelong friends and I'm just not ready to lock it up and throw away the key. It's been very quiet here as of late and I get it, comments are dead too. But I still love coming here, occasionally pouring out my soul, sharing snaps of my children who are growing in the blink of my eye and sharing a recipe or two. This is space means a lot to me and I want to keep it going but I want to perhaps augment "how" I've been doing it to some degree. I want to learn and allow myself to celebrate all parts of life (photogenic or not) and to ask you to join me in celebrating it all. And let's put our clicks where our mouth is and support those individuals who are already doing this. Let's show with our actions that we really do want honesty, open dialogue, raw emotion and authenticity. Let's show everyone that it's ok to tear down the facade and let us see the real you - messes and all. Because (I apologize in advance for this sounding like a Dove commercial) we are beautiful because of all our composite parts, not just the pretty "highlight reel" ones.
“What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.”
― Nora Ephron
*This will be the last post with open comments. I may not be ready to close this space but I am ready to close comments. I feel like emails encourage a more intimate and personal dialogue and I welcome them anytime! (you can write to me at floraandfaunablog[at]gmail.com). Thank you so, so much to all of you that have taken time to write something that has made me smile, think or has simply touched my life. Huge, huge hugs to you all!! xx