If you go on vacation and no one sees your pictures on social media, have you really gone on vacation? It seems like the answer these days is a resounding “no.”
Come August, I feel like if I see one more sunset picture on Facebook and Instagram, I’m going to tear my hair out. And the problem is, I am SO guilty of this. Maybe the most guilty. If you were tempted to block shamelessly boastful and obnoxious posts from Facebook or Instagram this summer, I might be first name on your “defriend” list. I look back on my Facebook page: Sun kissed glasses of wine, stunning sunsets, bright smiling faces on the water. Too much, too fast. No one needs to see all of this. For this, I apologize. And despite what the photos would have you believe, my life—even during fabulous weeks of summer– is far from perfect.
The subject of over-sharing on FB came up with my adult kids a few weeks ago, just after Mike and I returned our vacation in Maine.
“Enough with the sunset pictures from the boat,” one kid told me, in that Mom, You Really Have No Business Being On Social Media kind of tone.
“Enough with all the pictures from the boat,” another kid agreed, “unless you start using the hashtag, ‘#imonaboatbitch’ which would make it kinda funny and ironic.”
All the kids cracked up, snorting something about an SNL skit in between guffaws.
I had no idea what this was referring to, though I made a mental note to find out.
“For every one vacation picture you post,” the third kid added, you should post three non-vacation related things.” Posts that inform (but are not preachy), posts that are inspirational, posts that are funny.
“Just what I needed,” I thought, “etiquette lessons from the next generation.” But that was just what I needed.
“Does it count when I post something fabulous, even if I wrote it?” I asked, me being me.
“If it’s funny, sure that can count.”
Phew. I always think I’m funny.
“Does it count when I post something negative about Donald Trump?” I asked, looking for confirmation.
“Yes, if you want to go there.” And yes, of course I wanted to go there. (check out the morals test.)
That’s when someone should have given me a dope slap, because despite this sage advice, I continued to post my most “summery” photos– pics with my nieces on the beach, my friends on a lake, being all happy and simply mahvelous. After all, everyone on Facebook was posting sunsets and other vacation photos…I’m in Banff! I’m on the Cape, the Hamptons, Nantucket!
I didn’t pay any real attention until my husband, following up on the family discussion, emailed me this New York times article, The Tyranny of Other People’s Vacation Photos. That’s when it really hit home. I was clearly guilty, as charged. And then, to top it off, the next day, I posted a picture of me hiking in New Hampshire, and my cousin commented, “I know where you are more than I know where my own family is.”
There has always been something alluring about sharing our pictures, especially our vacation pictures. Our generation would bring our film to the drugstore, wait a week for the film to be developed and returned, lovingly put the pictures in albums, and then force our closest friends and relatives to look at them. But In the good old days, if you waited long enough after the vacation to get together, somehow the obligation to view the vacation photos disappeared. Three weeks after you got back from Italy? You were not bringing your photo album to dinner (unless you were really obnoxious.)
But with Facebook and Instagram, there’s no escape. All vacation photos, all the time. Come into my world. Come see how fabulous my life is.
In this very fake world of photographs, everything is perfect, and we are all being inundated. The shittiest of vacations might seem like they are flawless. Difficult times don’t exist. Everyone is beautiful.
I didn’t post much this winter. I didn’t post any pictures of myself hooked up to the chemo IV. I was not posting pictures of my bald head. Or of that phenomenal pimple that erupted in the middle of my forehead. Or of the look on my face when I got off the scale and realized that I had gained 6 pounds.
The New York Times article made me think about why I felt the need to post so many sunset and vacation photos. Am I that insecure that I wanted to everyone to know what a wonderful summer I was having? Was I bragging? Did I have a need to be “liked”? Did I really need this boost to my ego? Did I have to prove that my winter may have been awful, but I was going to make up for it this summer?
So, it’s time for me to start thinking of what I post, how often, and how it might make others feel. I’m going to take my kids advice: no more sunset photos, period. They are ridiculous. And I am going to share three other posts for every “my life is awesome” post. I am going to post inspirational posts, informative posts, funny posts, posts about great events. In short, I am going to take a lesson from our betterafter50 facebook page, which does exactly that (so feel free to “like” it– I promise…no sunsets.)
And I’m not going to use any more boat pictures without using #Imonaboatbitch, because I finally looked up the reference, and it’s pretty funny…I am sure you’ll agree.