by LUCY CHESTERTON
My cat was killed last week. My precious little guy, bought for me as a 30th birthday gift by my wonderful boyfriend, he ran away the week we moved house and was crushed by car on the road in our unfamiliar area.
I loved that cat – named Toffee Face but more often known as The Toff- from the moment we saw each other, and with more love than I thought I had in me. To some it won’t sound like a tragedy, because some people just don’t understand about pets. But those who do will know his sudden and brutal death, for me, has been terrible.
This event, many of my friends do not know about… because of my social media smile. Which means, when something heartbreaking happens, you won’t see it on my website.
The Social Media Smile. It’s a term a friend coined when capturing a photo of my two best girlfriends for Facebook one night. She snapped away, and as is habit now, each photo was shown to the group for approval before posting, each being rejected by one or both of my friends.
Finally, the photographer said, “OK, last chance, give me your best social media smile, or that’s it.” And they did. The perfect shot, showing everyone at their best, fit for public consumption. And up it went.
The social media smile goes beyond staging several photos before selecting the best possible one to upload. It includes “checking in” on Facebook -where your location is shown, along with who you’re partying with- when you’re only ever at the latest hot spots with the coolest people, at crazy hours of the night and day.
Melissa Hoyer wrote for news.com.au this week about our new found digital narcissism:
Publishing houses may be constantly criticised for air-brushing, cropping and making celebrities appear thinner, taller or more youthful than they really are but us mere mortals are also transforming the often ordinary into the, well, extra-ordinary.Sure, we all know smartphones, iPads and tablets are ubiquitous, but with their burgeoning fame we’ve become so self-conscious, realising that anytime, anywhere and at any place, a social media circulated and critiqued picture could just be on the cards.
The percentage of digital snap shooters (yep, I’m part of that crew) is sky-rocketing each year. Just go to a live event, whether it’s a gig, sporting event or school concert and you’ll see hundreds or thousands of smartphone’s held high as their owners click away capturing a chosen “moment” through the frame of a lens.
Meanwhile, the bigger picture often gets lost as we snap away select seconds, even inventing exciting, captioned plotlines to go with relatively bland snapshots.
When was the last time you just took a picture and let it just it “be” as opposed to it potentially being seen by an entire social network? When was the last time you just snapped, let alone printed a picture?
She’s right. When did people knowing what you’ve been doing become as important as doing it? When the amount of fun you look like you’re having exceeds the actual amount. It’s when you don’t post about being made redundant, but you do post when you have a new cool job. At best, it’s putting your best foot forward, all the time, online. At worst it’s all of us creating a false reality where our cats all live forever.
We’re at a point where we have to talk to less and less people each day. Often, we don’t really know what’s going on with someone close to us, relying on their posts to keeps tabs on them. Often, social media allows people to pretend to be someone they want to be, while in reality they’re moving farther away from that person with each post.
Next time your kid comes last in the race, or your boss gives your pay rise to someone else, or you lose $1000 at the TAB, don’t hide it to give a false impression of having it all. Be someone who posts about it. Just take one photo, and post it. With whatever smile you’re wearing.
Lucy Chesterton is the entertainment reporter for Mornings on the Nine Network and starts work at a ridiculously early hour. You can find her on Twitter here.
Do you post your highs and lows, or just the highs?