I speak to lots of people everyday. I have noticed that so many of us seem to be constantly looking for our next life upgrade, like waiting for the end of a mobile phone contract. But are our lives as broken as a two year old I phone? Or is the way that we look at things been skewed by our consumer culture?
Sometimes they are, we survey our situation and we do have lives like a phone with a cracked screen and battery life that only seems to last for ten minutes. More often than not though most things are actually perfectly fine, we might need to close off some unused apps (which can be friends, jobs, relationships) or go through our gallery and delete all of the pictures or store them on the cloud so we aren’t carrying them around (moving on and putting things to rest in our minds) and then you can carry on with your phone (life) perfectly happily. Not that we do, we need the most up to date model. We all crave the next thing.
I do believe that this spilling over onto every part of our lives can be unhealthy though. Sometimes we all need change, but have we stopped being able to see value in what we already have and are we losing the ability to maintain or repair things? Why is what we have never as good as what other people seem to have? Why are we constantly striving to be selfie perfect when we know that most of it is tricks with clever angles and filters?
Most of us don’t even need to leave the house anymore, we can get everything from our weekly food shopping to a romantic relationship online now. It is also so much easier to express our dissatisfaction with things, block, unfollow or leave a negative review. How far is this going to go? How long until people have a star rating on tinder? You will know that they chew loudly and are terrible at oral sex before you have even spoken to them. But that opinion might not be the same one that you have if you actually went out for dinner, which you won’t because someone else already told you not to bother.
Our means of contacting each other are so many and varied now, I have some friends that I speak to on three or four different social media apps but that I rarely see in real life, but do they really know what is going on in my life? The version of it that I choose to share online is not entirely factual as I don’t share the horrible days when I feel dreadful, I take pictures of my children being adorable or hilarious, not screaming or pooping on the floor. Even though I know this about myself I still find myself assuming that I am up to date with my friends and how they are by looking at their social media.
This can be damaging for many reasons. We all compare ourselves to each other. I have found myself wondering if I am a good enough parent because other people seem to find it easier/have better behaved children/have time for hobbies etc… they might be better parents, but they might just be hiding all of the ugly bits just like I do.
I spent a while asking people who came into the pub that I work at if they used social media and how they felt about it. I was surprised by how many people either don’t use it at all or had decided to delete it from their lives. I wonder if we are falling out of love with it now we have all had at least one negative experience online. Most of us know someone who has been the victim of fraud from details being stolen online or falling for a spam email. There are people catfishing all over the place. None of it is real. Even when we think we are being as true to ourselves as possible, we probably aren’t.
Is it really much different in real life though?
When I look out of my bedroom window I can see my back garden and my neighbours garden. Our garden is really nice and lovely boyfriend has worked incredibly hard to make it so. When I look at our neighbours garden however, ours just isn’t as nice, there is no hole in the middle of the lawn where a toddler decided to dig a hole, there aren’t half a dozen large plastic vehicles that look like they were involved in a serious traffic accident in a pile. They have a border with pretty palm trees, we have a giant oak tree that is firing acorns at us every six seconds in a very vicious manner (I am beginning to wonder if it can actually aim). They have a hot tub, we have a paddling pool.
They are grandparents though, no mini people live in their house, so they can have a nice garden that only has small lawn destroyers in it occasionally. We have small children which is awesome, but means that our garden is going to look like a war zone for quite a few years to come. We will have a nice garden when they are grown up and we have to fill all of the time that we got used to giving to them. Their garden isn’t better than ours, its just different because their lives are different. Eventually when lovely boyfriend fills in the hole and puts down yet more grass seed to patch the damage nobody will come along with a plastic shovel and dig it up (and I think I will miss the excited, happy, dirty little face arriving at the back door going “look Munny! Hole!” a bit when he finally grows out of it) and our lawn will look just as perfect as the one on the other side of the fence.
The grass is not greener, its not better, it will just always look different when you look at it from a different angle. So I think that is what I am going to have to remember before I start comparing myself to everyone else. The angle that I am looking at them from might make them seem much better than me, but they are probably just the same, or better in some ways and worse in others. Now you will have to excuse me, I am practising the perfect selfie pose…..