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  • fedevecchi

No Way!

Wait! You are telling me that the kids holding hands and singing in that Facebook picture actually have melt downs and occasionally try to poke each other’s eyes out?! That smiling adorable couple in front of the Disney castle slept in separate rooms last night because they had a fight about the cost of the vacation?! Wait…they have problems?! Their lives are not always perfect like the pictures on their Instagram?!

I always find myself a little confused when reading those ah ha articles about the imperfection behind the perfection we see posted on social media…like it’s a huge surprise. I mean isn’t it natural for people to try to look their best and to put their best foot forward when they are presenting their lives for all to see (and, yes, I realize that there are those that take this to a bit of an extreme and do the equivalent of appropriating someone else’s foot…stapling it to their own limb over their somehow perceived as inferior foot…and putting it forward…or even constructing a completely artificial foot to put forward….)? Shouldn’t we simply assume that the moments of people’s lives presented to us “artificially” (pictures, films,…etc) are, at best, just snippets and not the whole story and at worst, complete and total fabricated hogwash, and simply enjoy them for what they are…strictly ornamental? Yet, I have read numerous articles about social media causing anxiety and depression in people who are taking the perfection and harmony they see online at face value, and feeling bad about their own normal, imperfect lives. They then let out an audible sigh of relief (together with a maniacal laugh and an “I knew it!”) when it is revealed that those people do not, in fact, have perfect lives.

Aren’t Facebook pages, Instagrams, Snapchats, …etc kind of the modern equivalent of the photo albums and scrap books that our ancestors (because if I wrote parents, I would totally be dating myself….) used to keep out on the coffee table? Photo albums on steroids, yes, but the idea is the same. When a guest would come over for coffee, or tea, or whatever the occasion, and flip through the album, did they ever expect to see pictures of the children beating the snot out of each other while flipping the bird at their parents? Or did they instinctively know that they would find colorful (or black and white) little rectangles filled with beautiful vacations and smiling cherubs holding hands, with an understanding that the whole purpose of the album was to showcase and preserve the family’s happiest moments?

Of course, whether looking through the albums back then or scrolling through someone’s social media page now, it is human nature to feel a twinge of envy now and again. However, it only takes a glance around us to remember that the world is still perfectly imperfect. Maybe this is one of the problems…. Is anyone glancing around themselves anymore…or are the little screens with the photo albums actually being superimposed over the realities that surround us? Go to any given supermarket (especially in the late afternoon when patience begins to wear thin), put down the phone, and look around: you are bound to see the screaming child being a total butt in the candy aisle, or a couple or two disagreeing (though with the invention of texting sometimes you can only infer by the rage-filled expression on the texter’s face and the stiff pecking motion of the texter’s angry digits (insert frowny faced emoji)). Not only will this make you feel better about your own children, and significant other (and the call you just got from the school, or the freaking sock you found on the kitchen table, or the insensitive comment…but I digress), but it should serve as proof that the world is still full of those sweet little imperfections that make us all human (yes, ALL of us…even the Cleaver family down the street with the golden locks and the brand new Lexus that they drive up to the lake house every Friday while singing refrains from Disney songs). Do you really think that the temper tantrum or smack down fight scenes are going to be showcased on their Snapchat? Ok, some of us actually like to put this side of our lives forward and use it as humor and for its cathartic effect, but even we have our limits…. You are probably not going to see anything about the arguments that ended in profoundly hard feelings…or the time one of the kids tanked completely at his or her given sport and stomped off. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Point in case: years ago I was taking pictures to try to get one that would work on the family Christmas card (a daunting task as always). I just happened to rapid fire this sequence. Sure, I could (and some would/did say should) have put that first picture on by itself…but it was the sequence that truly represented the unpredictable roller coaster life with the kids.

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