Social media parenting: a picture paints 1,000 words, but not all of them are truthful
Last night, I posted the above picture on my Instagram. It’s a really nice snapshot that I presented on the social media site alongside the following caption.
“A football class in St Albans, a birthday party in Twickenham, a catch up with friends and a river walk all achieved within a day. Up yours, London traffic. #dadblog #london #weekend #familyfun #twickenham #stalbans #whichway #fatherandson #dadandson #boats #river #ducks”
In some ways, this is an array of words and hashtags that accurately reflect my family’s Sunday. But in other ways, it’s a selected edit that’s designed to make my friends, social media followers, rivals, search engines and the internet believe that my life is far more exciting and in control than it actually is.
I mean, yes all of the above happened. But so did a horrific nappy change in the back of the car (think: kicking, screaming, the works), a fairly significant difference of opinions about where and when my wife and I were eating lunch, a couple of in-car meltdowns, three of four incidents of GDH (grievous daddily harm) and a seismic tantrum when mummy went to the bathroom. So why weren’t these mentioned in my post?
I’ve been thinking about this all morning and so far have come up with the following three reasons.
- None of the above ruined my day, so why broadcast them?
- It doesn’t seem fair on my family to air our dirty laundry in public (yes, I’m aware that I’m essentially doing that now).
- I’ve got a social media image to protect and, like everyone else, I want to keep up with the #Joneses
You know the #Joneses. Dinners in Michelin starred restaurants, holidays in the Seychelles, kids who behave and sleep, designer sunglasses, impossibly pretty friends, dogs that can fit in their handbag, year-round tans, abdominal muscles with more definitions than a dictionary, permanent smiles, expensive juice diets, fresh fish in Ibiza… the #Joneses are clearly #winningatlife. Or that’s what they want to make us think anyway.
In reality, I’m sure all these people cry, argue, have bad days, pop the buttons on their trousers and spill the odd bit of food down their ridiculously white shirts, but we don’t know this, because they very carefully paint over any potentially negative pictures.
Still what’s the harm in this? After all, it’s a free internet and people can do and post whatever they like. This is true, and there isn’t any harm in it if… the people imbibing these social media feeds feel good about themselves and understand the game that’s being played. If they don’t, then they can quickly come to the conclusion that they are failing at life, eating out, work, being attractive to the opposite sex, or in this particular case parenting.
Honest is my policy
I don’t want anyone to feel like this, so I decided to create this website. My ambition is to present the most realistic and honest guide to the ups and downs of parenting that I possibly can (while still posting some ace pics and using some cool filters). With this in mind, I’d like to update my last Instagram post with the below picture, which was taken a millisecond before the one I published. Like the original, it paints 1,000 words. Unlike the original, these include: boredom, yawning and eye gouging. Two shots, two seconds, two very different outcomes. Remember that the next time you get even remotely down about someone’s seemingly perfect Insta feed or Facebook life.