How many casual, not-so-casual and serious talks have I given to my daughters about being wary of social media?
I know Facebook is often full of the best 20 seconds of people’s lives. I know, often, what you see bears little resemblance to the real story. Person A has a decade-long history of issues with Person B, yet here they sit laughing in a group photo at a restaurant overlooking a winery. I know there are photo filters and life filters and emotional filters used before anyone presses share.
I know the easiest way to create a myth is to post on social media. I know living on a screen doesn’t compare to the glorious mess of living off one.
Worse still, I repeat these “life lessons” to my kids. I don’t want them to be dragged along behind Facebook and Instagram et al by their scrolling fingers and take on some self-loathing, hyper-critical, let’s-compare-our-lives-with-this-“perfect person” ride.
I have rules about their social media consumption because I know it is a world that requires rules and boundaries and a little bit of distance.
Listen: The story of Essena O’Neill, the model who quit social media. (Post continues after audio.)
Yet here I sit — often on the end of my bed, because I like to Facebook in private. Taking a break from the Sunday night dinner, clean-up, what’s next ritual to just have a ‘quick’ scroll through Facebook (and while I’m in the neighbourhood, I may as well knock on Instagram’s door).
I’m in that space between the end of the weekend and the reality of a new week. The noises in the house are familiar. A last minute load of laundry is on. Someone is opening the fridge. There’s a soft hum of voices asking what time is it, where are the tweezers, who has the phone charger.
The sunlight has well and truly gone. And I turn from my real world into this other one, radiant with good times. Brimming with obvious life fulfillment and enrichment; with experiences that are so good you are surely going to be getting comfort out of them on your deathbed.
It’s during these sneaky moments of scrolling that I get a pit in my stomach. I start feeling blue. Maybe even a failure. I question and assess. I berate myself for lost opportunities I didn’t even contemplate. I make promises about doing things differently. And all my failings seem worse on a Sunday night.
Why don’t I organise surprise parties with thoughtful photo collages for my friends?
Why didn’t I take my kids to a secret river and watch them gleefully jump off rocks into the water? We just went to Woollies on Saturday and then we had to go back because we forgot dog food.
She has another book out. Come on. Get your act together.
I’m going to Google that secret river place and we are all going there next weekend. With a really healthy picnic that everyone will love.