Several weeks ago a friend posted a picture on Instagram of her four children with their teacher who had helped every single one of them through the Gifted and Talented program in elementary school. I probably shouldn’t have replied how I did, “Lucky you. I only had one of six make it into the Gifted program. I guess my children are a lot dumber than yours.” She was rather shocked at my reply, claiming that I misunderstood her meaning. But let’s call a spade a spade and admit that she was bragging.
We live in a very strange culture of social media. Between blogs and Facebook and Instagram we have an interesting choice that most people have never had to worry about before now: how to present ourselves. The closest we really have come to this in the past was the annual Christmas card. But now we can give people a thoroughly sanitized, filtered and retouched version of the best parts of our world on a daily (hourly!) basis.
I do this. I am not about to put a picture of myself out there that is not super flattering. If I take a shot of my kids and the dirty kitchen is in the background, I repose everyone so the kitchen is nowhere to be seen. I completely fess up to trying to make my life look better than it really is. There. I said it.
I’ve been blogging for over five years, though, and in that time I’ve had to examine what I want my words and images to say. Even though I want everything I post to seem as nice as possible, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about their own lives. In my mind there is always the struggle with wanting to post something because I’m proud of it (I can bake and do nails like nobody’s business) and not wanting to post something because nobody likes a braggart.
Nobody likes a braggart, right? One look at Pinterest or the Martha Stewart magazine and I’m not so sure. There is a class offered at every blog conference I’ve ever been to about being true to yourself. Is offering a retouched, pretty version of yourself not being true? Or is it simply smart editing? Should there be an unwritten rule that for every two perfect images you post, you need to offer something self-deprecating? At what point does announcing something good cross the line into obnoxiousness?
I admit that there are a few blogs I have had to stop reading because the lives of the women writing them seemed so perfect that I started feeling really horrible, hateful feelings towards them. A few of these women have actually been honest about some of the struggles they have had to endure and while it was nice to realize that their lives aren’t perfect, they sure seem about 99% more perfect than mine. Turns out I am prone to jealousy and do not handle it well.
What do we do? Own up to the braggy things we post? Slyly try to pretend that we aren’t bragging when we actually are? Not worry about bragging because if somebody’s jealous that’s their problem, not ours? Just not post anything because heaven forbid we offend someone?
I don’t know what the answer is. We could discuss it. Or I could simply post a lovely picture of my daughter wearing an heirloom silk dress standing in a field of bluebonnets and petting a pony.*
*I really did post a picture just like this on Instagram last week. I refrained from pointing out that I made the dress myself. I also did not point out that I had just yelled at my daughter for crying because there were fire ants biting her bare feet. I also did not point out that I had not taken a shower that day and she was the only decent-looking person in the family. See what I mean? Am I supposed to be announcing that? Or do I just post a nice picture and let people think what they may?