Hey, your grass is better than mine...

Monday, September 22, 2014

   I have a confession.

   I am an instagram addict.

   I really, truly am. Instagram is my jam. I love the way I can sneak glimpses of other peoples' beautiful, arsty, carefree lives. Their delicious meals, fabulous clothes and adorable, giggly babies and children. I adore the way the app seems to afford all these people the ability to cultivate sparkly, languid lives with all the free time and resources they could ever desire. And I get to live variously through all of them! As many times a day as I want!

   What's not to love?

   Mid way through an instagram fest a few weeks ago a small voice in the back of my head whispered exactly what is not to love: your life kinda sucks, it whispered. You're pretty boring... you work too much... this whole residency thing is consuming all of your free time and creativity.... you will never have those fabulous, effortless outfits and adoring, giggly babies...

   I would like to say that right then and there I deleted the app forever, refocused my attention on my own daily existence and hummed frequent gratitudes to myself throughout the day to remind myself just how awesome, fortunate and spectacular this life I have really is. 

   But it wasn't until I read this article that I really got it, that I really listened to those whispers and acknowledged the poison that social media can become. Why is instagram so popular? Why are everyone and their grandmothers taking selfies and facebooking like their lives depend on it? The answer is simple: because we all want to be admired. In some ways that fabulous morning, that glorious date, that chic outfit or major life win doesn't truly exist until we share it with the world and feel the adoring stares of our friends, family and (the biggest boon of all) strangers. And slowly, whether we are aware of it or not, our minds become saturated in all the feeds, all the lives, all the great and glamorous other that we and our lives are not. 

   And there it is. The great con of social media: what once made you feel connected and cool now makes your feel left out and lacking. Suddenly, our homes aren't lit 24/7 in that perfect, golden glow of the evening sun. Our meals don't all regale us with their color, creativity and impeccable plating. We have real, stressful career obligations that don't involve us looking bored and fabulous all day long.

   After reading the Zen Habits blog and ruminating about this for a little while I've realized that all of these things I've been feeling badly about are perfectly ok. It is one thing to strive for better and happier but quite another to allow social media to fool us into thinking we are the only ones with moments of mundane in our lives, the only ones with ugly morning eyes or spilled beer on our couch (I admit nothing).

   The internet is a magical thing; obviously as a blogger I believe in its power to bring us together, to foster community, creativity and inspiration for a life well lived. But I also believe in viewing our lives as a whole and being careful not to let the on line world trick our minds into thinking there is some fantasy life waiting for us where the dog doesn't ever stink and you don't ever have to see a chicken hawk tear one of your beloved baby chicks apart right in front of your very eyes (true story. I'm still recovering).

   After all, sweet things are always better with a little salt and color would be boring if we didn't know what black, white and gray looked like. It's only when we take the boring and the exciting, the beautiful bits and the lumpy, ugly bits all together that we can see clearly: it is all just so, deliciously good, this life we have.

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