Keeping it real here, folks. It’s Anita. I know, this isn’t my usual format, but I have something to say.
I had a bad week last week. A small thing in my life upset me more than it should have. It left me feeling angry and also embarrassed. I was embarrassed because I felt like I had no right to be so affected. I have it good. I honestly have nothing to complain about in life.
This led me to a spiraling cycle of feeling inadequate; Inadequate about pretty much everything. My parenting skills – dreadful. My housekeeping skills – mortifying. My spiritual strength – awful. My patience – nil.
While I was bathing in self-loathing, I logged onto Facebook (which would usually have been a terrible idea). A neighbor and friend of mine posted this picture.
The status said:
“There are just so many things more important than cleaning. After a few days this starts to bother even me, and I can tolerate some serious mess. Just sharing to brighten everybody’s day!”
It caught me off guard. I kept going back and looking at it. People don’t post that kind of thing! I felt so comforted by somebody posting a picture of their messy kitchen, posting something real, something people don’t normally broadcast.
I was reminded of a talk I had just listened to by Quentin L. Cook. He quoted Arthur C. Brook on the potentially negative impact of social media.
When using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media “friends.”
How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?
It hit me. Blogs are evil. (Okay, maybe that is a bit strong, but let me explain.)
Comparison is not a new phenomenon. In the 1950’s, say, women surely compared themselves to others. They had the people in their neighborhood or immediate sphere, they had 3 channels of television and a handful of magazines to compare themselves to. They were completely unaware of their embarrassing inability to turn old wooden palettes into dressers, wall art and washing machines. The didn’t know, because there was nobody to tell them.
Now there is a blog about everything. EVERYTHING. And when we consume all of them, we can start to feel like we are failing.
Bloggers post their best. They post the pictures of their clean houses, their cute hair-dos, their Halloween crafts, their perfectly matched seasonal outfits and their toned glutes. There is nothing left unsaid, nothing uncrafted, no topic un-adviced. All of these influences add up to create an illusion that we feel we need to live up to. An illusion that says, “You can and should be able to do ALL OF IT, all of the time.”
What blogs don’t show you is what the house normally looks like, or how that crafty lady neglects other things, or the blogger’s personal flaws and weaknesses. No matter what anybody thinks, NOBODY IS PERFECT. NOBODY CAN DO IT ALL. WE MUST STOP COMPARING OUR PERSONAL WORST WITH THE INTERNET’S BEST.
But, just like we can’t blame McDonald’s for us being overweight, we can’t blame blogs for our insecurities. We must judiciously consume the information available. We must realize what we are consuming. A partial truth.*
In these moments I considered whether I should stop what I was doing. I was adding to this unrealistic expectation because my blogging is heavily reliant on photos of food. (Granted, I am quite an amateur, but still.) But here are some truths. I really love to cook. I really love to try new foods and new recipes. I really want to inspire others to try new foods. I really want others to find joy in food. I really make the food on the site. I really take the pictures. It is hard to inspire somebody to want to try a recipe without a photo and even worse if the photo is bad.
Here are some more truths. The food in the my photos is staged. And if you could see the surrounding area, you would see what my husband lovingly refers to as the “Pampered Chef explosion.” And you would see that I’m possibly still in my pajamas at 4:00 PM.
This is normally what dinner looks like at our house. This would not be featured in ANY lifestyle magazine. Notice the matching serving dishes and place settings? Please appreciate the left-over box of Sonic french fries, an errant bag of markers and our property tax bill on the table with us.
We eat on plastic IKEA plates almost daily. My family, actually just my kids, often, often complain about what I cook. We eat $5 pizza, a lot. We eat mac and cheese out of a box, a lot. I don’t feed my kids vegetables at every meal or even every day. I am in “crisis feeding mode” quite often, which means I feed them whatever I can manage in the time I have. We eat at McDonald’s and Wendy’s and Arctic Circle. I make gross food. I have had lots and lots of failures. But I never regret trying something new (except twice. Twice I made some really, really gross food not fit for human consumption.)
Cooking is a high priority in my life. Cleaning, not so much, nor is wearing makeup or fashionable clothing. (I do wear clothing, just in case you were worried.) Different people have different priorities. And we each must figure out what is best for our family.
Even more truth: Taking nice pictures of food, definitely comes at a cost. It takes time. And it takes time away from other things. It takes time away from my kids, my husband, and myself. There is no free lunch, they say.
Why do bloggers blog? Usually because they are talented at something and want to share that talent. So, are bloggers evil? Probably not. After all, we are all supposed to magnify, increase and share our talents. Does a blogger’s talent take away from your (perhaps different) talents? Only if you let it. So, look at that blog, look at their talents and then let it inspire you or let it go.
This blog is certainly NOT meant to make its readers feel inadequate. Quite the opposite. We are trying to help people (including ourselves) find the joy in life, be inspired and do a little better.
Be careful in your consumption of blogs, but maybe they aren’t ALL evil
Here are some tips on keeping your blog diet healthy.
*I realize that not all blogs fit this category. Some blogs strive to tell the whole truth. Shawna’s posts are made strictly from reality; from her experiences good and bad. I recently read a blog post that was awesome. This blogger knows what it’s about.
And finally, if you want to read the rest of the talk by Elder Cook.