Tag Archives: social media

Real Talk Wednesday: a plea for (occasional) honesty about parenting

People use social media to lie about their lives. This revelation should not come as news to anyone who even casually uses Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever cool new app The Kids are using these days. These platforms provide wonderful opportunities for all of us to lie to each other, to create sparkling, sanitized, envy-inducing holograms of the lives we’re actually living. No one is totally honest on social media.

This is not news. I know. But I want to talk about it anyway.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how parents of young children, in particular, use social media to craft certain, let’s say, misleading narratives about our lives and what it’s like to be a parent day to day. If you scroll through my Instagram feed, among the cute dachshund pictures and soothing portraits of succulents and heirloom tomatoes, you’ll see an abundance of Shiny Happy Parents and their Shiny Happy Children. It’s hard not to be bowled over by the #joy emanating from these pics. EVERYONE. IS. SO. HAPPY!

Except for the occasional “funny” picture of a kid scowling in a cute, photogenic way, there is nary a tantrum — or even a frown — to be seen. Parents are polished, kids are well-behaved, and no one has boogers stuck on their faces or spit-up on their clothes. Everyone is well-rested and smiling and and wearing cute, fashionable clothes! Everyone is doing SO great, you guys! Hey, look at us picking pumpkins! Look at us snuggling lovingly on top of a crisply made bed! Look at us tidily baking muffins together! We’re so happy! Our house is so clean! We’re so #blessed!

It’s all bullshit, and we all know it. And yet, we all do it. I do it. I’ll admit it.

Do I post pictures of Lucia having her fourteenth meltdown of the day because I wouldn’t carry her upstairs when she can walk and I’m 36 weeks pregnant with a bad back? Nope. Do I post pictures of myself right after waking up after a horrible night’s sleep, looking like I’ve been dragged behind a truck for several miles? Nope. Do I post any pictures whatsoever that would give anyone the impression that my daily life with a toddler and a metaphoric bun in the oven is anything but idyllic, full of laughs and smiles and cute hijinks? Heck to the nope.

There are so many reasons I don’t post pictures of tantrums and insomnia and scrambled egg on the hardwood floor. First, I figure no one wants to see it. My guess is that people prefer the shiny, happy version of others’ lives because it’s less upsetting than the raw truth. Honestly, if I posted a video of one of Lucia’s epic tantrums, I’d have to post a trigger warning with it, letting other parents of toddlers know that what they are about to witness could be disturbing or even traumatizing for them and to practice self-care. For real, it’s rough stuff. Why would I want to inflict that on anyone else? Other people are already suffering through their own quotidian nightmares, I’m sure, so why would I want to spread the misery?

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Relatedly, I don’t want to see the bad stuff about my own life, either. When I post the Shiny Happy pics, I’m practicing a form of proactive memory erasure for my own benefit. A year from now, if I’m scrolling nostalgically back through my own posts, I don’t want to be reminded of the myriad horrors of parenting. No, I want to see the good stuff: the dimples, the toothy smiles, the times I brushed my hair.

I learned this lesson the hard way. When I first had Lucia, I kept a diary, in which I faithfully recorded my thoughts and feelings about new parenthood. Big mistake. I should have censored. I should have edited. I should have crafted a version of my own story that I could live with more easily. When I look back at that very honest diary now, I cringe, because it reminds me of all the bad stuff about having a newborn that I would have forgotten about otherwise: the sleepless nights, the worries about poop and pee and spit-up and jaundice, the struggles with breastfeeding and pumping and bottles.

There’s a reason our brains choose to skip over the trauma that inevitably comes with new parenthood: it’s so our species can continue on. If we all had to be reminded constantly of how hard having a baby is, no one would have more than one child. Not to make too big a deal out of this, but our reproductive destiny as a species is one reason to be thoughtful about your social media posts. And if not for that, do it for your own mental health. When I look back at my own Instagram feed now, 21 months into being a parent, I’m filled with warm, fuzzy feelings of love and affection for my family. If my feed was filled with raw footage of diaper blowouts, tantrums, and insomnia, I’m not sure I’d feel the same way.

However, despite the very good reasons that we all edit our parenting experiences for public consumption, there are some very good reasons to let the occasional brutally honest post slip in. The main reason, I think, is solidarity. As a parent of a young child, it’s easy to feel isolated, like you’re the only person in the world whose kid does whatever annoying or trying or worrisome thing she’s doing. You can know, logically, that whatever you’re going through is probably normal, but if you don’t see any evidence of other parents struggling, it’s extremely discouraging. I can’t count the number of times I’ve told Al that I think we must be the only parents in the world whose child does [x]. Al, eternal voice of reason, always reassures me that whatever infuriating or baffling thing Lucia is doing is perfectly normal, but as the pessimist and official Doubting Thomas in the partnership, I want to see proof, dammit. But if you’re hoping to find evidence of other parents’ struggles on social media, you’re going to be sorely out of luck. Because, as discussed above, social media is where we lie to each other about how easy and fun and beautiful our lives are.

So wouldn’t it be great if, once in a while, we all just posted the real stuff that was actually going down with our kids? Along with Throwback Thursday, we could have Real Talk Wednesday (#rtw), where we share the things that we’d normally keep hidden about our lives as parents. I think a tiny, weekly nugget of honesty would go a long way in reassuring each other that, in fact, we’re not alone. I’ll start! Today, my adorable, sweet, funny toddler took a break from being adorable, sweet, and funny to throw a tantrum when I wouldn’t carry her up the stairs. Important background information: her legs are not broken, I am the pregnantest, and I’ve recently thrown out my back. Also, this was pre-coffee. Yeah. You feel me, right?

Here’s my question: if you, a fellow parent (or even a non-parent) read a post like this on social media, would you feel a little less alone? I promise I’d go right back to posting beautiful, beaming pictures of my gorgeous child in cute clothes and picturesque surroundings right afterwards. I know if I saw the occasional honest post from my fellow parent friends, I’d appreciate it deeply. So here is my little plea for some (limited) real talk on social media. I’m not advocating that we all constantly bitch and moan about how hard our lives are, because that’s obnoxious (and depressing). I’m just saying that we can afford to lower the digital curtain just the tiniest bit and let some real honesty shine in, once in a while.

Please?

In the meantime, here’s a cute, happy picture of my daughter! #blessed

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My virtual life

Something disturbing happened to me earlier today, and I didn’t know how to explain it to my husband without it sounding at best, frivolous, and at worst, narcissistic. Nonetheless, I called him at work and tried not to sound as upset as I was.

“Al,” I said, “I just accidentally deleted all of my Twitter activity from my Facebook wall.”

There was a silence while Al tried to figure out how to react to this bombshell. “Oh no,” he said. “Sorry?” (He’s pretty good at guessing the right responses to things).

I explained to him that I was so upset about it because I had linked my Twitter account to my Facebook account years ago, which meant that 99% of all content I had ever posted on Facebook had actually been posted via Twitter. Thus, when I accidentally deleted all of my Twitter activity from Facebook, I deleted a huge online record of my life. And this, it turned out, was upsetting. Al consoled me as best he could, telling me that maybe the posts were salvageable (turns out, they weren’t). After that, there was really nothing more he could say. The record of my online activity was gone, and I had to accept it. Man.

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After scouring through my Facebook wall, I realized that I had only deleted all of my posts since July 2013 — so, only the last seven months of my online life. But those last seven months had contained so much! My entire time in London: gone. All of the articles and essays that had spoken to me: gone. And, the real tragedy, all of the funny jokes I had made: gone. Gone with the virtual wind!

I felt strangely bereft about this, and then, right on cue, felt guilty for being so self-obsessed. On the surface, losing seven months of one’s searing witticisms (and, more importantly, one’s friends’ reactions to said searing witticisms) should not be a big deal, unless one is a huge, self-involved narcissist. Which I’m totally not, I SWEAR. But I am a writer, and my Twitter feed, which was broadcast to a more personal audience via my Facebook, was, in a way, a body of my written work, however fluffy and silly it was. And, more importantly, it was a conversation between me and people who know me (and who care enough to comment on the stuff I put on social media). Yes, the Twitter feed itself still exists (on Twitter, no less), but the mingling of my Twitter posts with my friends’ reactions on my Facebook wall is gone forever. There were some really good debates, funny back-and-forths, and challenging discussions on that Facebook wall, and now they’re lost. Which begs the question: if a social media exchange falls into the internet hole and no one’s there to re-read it, did it make a sound? Did it ever even happen?

[Side note: I realize that I’m not doing a great job at making the case that I’m not a giant narcissist, but you’ll have to take my word for it. And plus, aren’t we all a bit narcissistic online? Part of the fun of social media is having one’s own wit and good cheer reflected back at one through the validation of one’s social networks. Right? Or is that just me?]

In any case, I’m not sure why I find this experience so unsettling. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, to speak in terribly broad cliches for just a moment, a large chunk of my life really is lived online. I work at home, by myself, and I’m a writer. Throughout the day, I interact with the world by sharing my thoughts (and, if I dare, my feelings) with people online, some of whom I know personally, some of whom I know virtually, and some of whom I know not at all. Those interactions are then preserved in the amber of the internet, most prominently through my Facebook wall. Some people, especially people of my parents’ generation and older, find this concept horrifying, that one’s personal conversations, thoughts, and feelings could be captured on the Internet for all to see, potentially forever (or at least until the grid goes down), but I find it comforting. I can go back to my wall posts from four, five, seven, even ten years ago, and see what my friends and I were talking about, or what movie I had seen, or what book I had read. It’s all there, whether I remember it or not. It’s both a personal reminder of what I’ve gotten up to, and a specimen that’s been polished and presented for public consumption.

Whether all of this archival of my personal life is a good thing or a bad thing is, I suppose, up for debate, but I don’t find that debate to be particularly interesting, mostly because I tend to be, if not judicious, at least mindful about what I post online. If I share a tweet on my Facebook wall, generally, it’s because I think my friends will enjoy it, and I don’t tend to post particularly controversial or revealing things on social media. I’m old enough and (sort of) wise enough — or, at least, experienced enough with social media — at this point not to post anything that will later embarrass me or prevent me from holding public office (I think). And if the NSA wants to read my Facebook wall, I find it hard to get worked up about it. Yes, in theory, it’s scary to think about strangers having access to my social media offerings, but in another way, it’s kind of flattering. I mean, is it so wrong that I hope the NSA thinks I’m funny?

I guess it all boils down to the fact Facebook has been a deeply ingrained part of my life for the last decade (literally). I signed up for Facebook in March 2004, as a senior in college, and I’ve been using it consistently ever since. I’m an active and enthusiastic user, although I’ve adapted and polished the way I use it over the years (for example: I now post far fewer photos than I used to and look at far fewer people’s actual profiles). A large part of Facebook’s role in my life has been as a type of online repository for my memories: an interactive scrapbook filled with photos, videos, discussions, greetings, and jokes. It was always available for me to page back through whenever I was in need of a nostalgia boost. Losing seven months of that scrapbook is not the end of the world, of course, but it’s a little sad. I wish I were one of those aloof, “Oh, I never check Facebook; I’m too busy bicycling around North America” people, but I’m not. I’m someone who enjoys and appreciates social media in my own life and I rely on it to always be available to me. It’s disturbing to see how easily this record of my life online can vanish, and how utterly unable I am to piece it back together without the aid of the internet.

Maybe the solution is that I start writing in a diary, or composing old-fashioned pen-and-ink letters to my friends, or taking photos with a non-digital camera and developing them in a dark room. Or maybe the solution is just to accept that I can’t rely on an external service to preserve my memories for me. Or maybe I just need to take a step back and realize that my stupid tweets are not as interesting or important as I think they are. Or maybe it’s all of the above. For now, though, I’ll stick to shaking my fist at the sky and cursing Mark Zuckerberg, whose fault all of this is, anyway.

Happy tweeting and Facebooking to you all. Hug your tweets close tonight.

 

 

Facebook etiquette

The other day, someone I know posted this blog post on her Facebook page, exhorting her Facebook friends to keep in mind seven basic rules of Facebook etiquette. The post’s title, “7 Ways To Be Insufferable On Facebook,” initially grabbed me, because, hey, I hate seeing updates on So-and-So’s progress in Farmville as much as the next person. In fact, I’ve spent a not insignificant chunk of time over the years building a mental list of some of the most obnoxious behaviors on Facebook, including, but not limited to, “liking” every “Happy Birthday” post on one’s wall; inviting one’s Facebook friends to join one’s inane online game of choice; whining about one’s job incessantly; starting any post with the word “Dear,” and then writing a hackneyed “open letter” addressed to, for example, the weather; writing status updates in the third person; posting “chain statuses,” especially ones that contain inaccuracies, misquotes, and/or urban legends; and, my personal least-favorite, spreading the news of a death before family members have had a chance to receive the news via non-Facebook means (this happened to me, by the way: this is how I found out my grandfather passed away. Not kidding, unfortunately).

Let’s face it: there are a lot of ways to be inconsiderate, boring, and/or irritating on Facebook. So I went into this post, from the blog wait but why, anticipating that I’d be totally on board with whatever behaviors this blogger (who I’ll refer to as WBW, since I don’t know his real name) was calling out. The post started off strong, ridiculing a horrifically self-aggrandizing status update that WBW had run across. I’ll reproduce the status update below; hopefully we can all agree that it is, in a word, ghastly.

2012 was a biggg year for me. I left my amazing job at NBC to move back to Chicago. I started dating my angel, Jaime Holland. I started yoga (thanks Jake Fisher & Jonah Perlstein!). I wrote an album with Matthew Johannson. Wrote another album I’m proud of. I got to hang with Owen Wilson, and worked with Will Ferrell on an amazing project. Had a conversation about Barack Obama with David Gregory. Danced. Joined a kickball team. Won a couple awards. Helped my sister plan her summer trip. Swam a lot. Golfed a little. Cried more than you would think. Read The World According to Garp. Saw Apocolypse Now. Went to Miami for the NBA Finals. Drank the best orange juice I’ve ever had with Davey Welch. Tweeted. Went to amazing weddings in Upstate New York. Drank a ridiculous amount of milk. Learned how to make sand art. Saw a great light show. Saw the Angels and Lakers. Fell in love with Jawbone Up. Cooked with Jaime. Gardened with Jaime. Watched Homeland with Jaime. Wrestled with Jaime. Laughed for hours with Jaime. Fell in love with Jaime’s family. Worked on a play. Played World of Warcraft. Did some improv. Played a ton of the guitar. Really just had a wild, amazing year. What a world.

So, yeah, this is bad. It’s really bad, and on so many levels. The humble bragging. The non-humble bragging. The name dropping. The misspellings. The inanities and mundanities. The repeated use of the word “amazing.” The casual references to guitar playing. I mean, there’s a lot to hate here. So I was on board with WBW for calling this out, because surely, everyone in the world except the author of this terrible status update should be able to agree that this type of unabashed self-promotion-disguised-as-gratitude should be illegal and potentially carry a prison sentence.

But then, WBW lost me when he started listing his seven rules that we all should adhere to on Facebook.

WBW’s basic message is that one should not post anything on Facebook that “primarily serves the author and does nothing positive for anyone reading it.” Okay. This seems like a reasonable framework to start from. After all, who wants to wade through a bunch of self-involved, uninteresting Facebook statuses on one’s Newsfeed? Not I. But when WBW went on to elaborate all of the behaviors he finds unacceptable on Facebook, I balked. In most cases, the rules he sets out are based on some general principle that I might agree with (for instance: don’t brag), but the rules as he states them are far too broad to be workable or even desirable. Indeed, the guidelines WBW lays out are so sweeping as to ban most behavior on Facebook.

First, WBW says that one shouldn’t boast on Facebook. Fair enough: no one likes an online braggart. But WBW defines bragging as the sharing of any positive news about one’s life. He writes that if something exciting happens in your life, “the only people it’s okay to brag to in life are your close friends, significant other, and family members—and that’s what email, texting, phone calls, and live talking are for. Your moment of self-satisfaction is profoundly annoying to people you’re not that close with, and they make up the vast majority of people who will be subjected to the status.” So if you get married, don’t mention it. You just got into med school? Keep it to yourself. First-born child? Shush. Don’t annoy others with your joy. Maybe WBW finds other people’s happy news “profoundly annoying,” but I’d venture a guess that most people on social media don’t feel that way; otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be on social media. I enjoy seeing wedding pictures, even if I haven’t spoken to the bride or groom since high school. I also don’t mind when someone shares excited or happy news about school or a job. It’s a natural human reaction to want to shout it from the rooftops when something exciting or wonderful happens. Why quash that?

I also disagree with the basic premise  that the sharing of all positive news is necessarily bragging. Anyone who’s read a truly braggy, self-promoting Facebook status can tell the difference between that (“I got to hang out with Owen Wilson”) and a genuinely heartfelt sharing of personal news (“Yay, I finally got accepted to law school”). It’s all about intent. Sharing happy news because you’re excited about said news is a different beast than “image crafting,” “attention craving,” or “jealousy inducing” posts, but WBW seems to lump these together. Any sharing of positive news must have an ulterior motive, in his eyes; and even if it doesn’t, it still shouldn’t be allowed because it might make someone else feel bad. He thus outlaws all statuses referring to vacations, social events, and loved ones, because these might induce feelings of envy in the reader. Also: no photos. Don’t ever post photos. So, according to WBW’s first rule alone, most Facebook statuses would be deemed “annoying” and therefore unacceptable. (Anyone else getting kind of a Taliban-y vibe from this?)

But WBW’s not done. One must also never post about what one is actually doing that day (Rule 3); write on anyone else’s wall (Rule 4); tag anyone else in a status or photo (Rule 4); express gratitude (Rule 5); express an opinion on a current event (Rule 6); or quote a great thinker or anyone else (Rule 7). The only one of WBW’s seven rules that I unequivocally agree with is Rule 2, which bans “cliffhanger” statuses, also known as “vaguebooking,” where one posts a cryptic status that invites curiosity from readers but then plays coy and refuses to provide further detail. That’s super annoying and needs to stop. But the rest of these rules go too far; they suck the fun and life out of Facebook.

All of this begs the question: what would be okay to post on Facebook, according to WBW? I am wracking my brain trying to craft a hypothetical status that would not run afoul of any of these rules, and it’s tough. WBW says in the beginning that jokes that uplift the reader are acceptable; so unless you treat Facebook as a Twitter feed exclusively for fun jokes, you’re going to break one of WBW’s rules at some point.

My Facebook page today: undoubtedly super annoying to WBW

My Facebook page today: undoubtedly super annoying to WBW – look at all the photos! The horror!

These rules are bunk and should be rejected for two reasons. First, if you outlaw the expression of all human emotion on Facebook, you deprive Facebook of its purpose. People use the service to interact with people they know, care about, and/or are interested in. If the only allowable use of Facebook is to share jokes, then you might as well shut down your account and switch to Twitter, which is a much more streamlined vehicle for writing and reading jokes. Second, WBW has basic Facebook etiquette backwards. If you’re irritated by someone’s postings on Facebook, the burden is on you, the reader, to filter that person’s posts out. We all have different sensitivities and proclivities. As someone posting on Facebook, I cannot tailor my status updates or photos to suit the individual needs of all several hundred people who might be seeing them; I might as well not post at all. The only workable system is for users of Facebook to decide what they want to see and what they want to be hidden; this is easily accomplished through Facebook’s Newsfeed controls. If someone always posts annoying statuses, hide him. Or even unfriend him, if it’s that bad. But you must not demand that everyone in your social media universe conforms to your individual and highly specific sensitivities.

With that, go forth and post on Facebook!*

*(For actual guidance on what’s obnoxious, please refer to my first paragraph, above.)

Sound advice Thursday: How do I “unfriend” someone in real life?

Dear Steph:

How do you “unfriend” someone in real life? One of my best friends has a girlfriend that she met through work that I’m not particularly fond of. Whenever we all hang out, she makes passive aggressive and snarky comments to me and goes out of her way to prove that she and my best friend have a closer relationship. She has always been a “frenemy” that I tolerated for the sake of my best friend (who’s oblivious to this girl’s rudeness toward me).  However, my friend recently moved away for graduate school, and her snarky friend is now contacting me, asking me to hang out. If it’s a big group setting like a happy hour, I’ll go, but I try to avoid any one-on-one time with her. I never initiate any sort of contact with her and I don’t do anything (at least in my mind) that would give her the impression that I like her and want to develop a deeper friendship with her. Is it wrong to completely ignore her or make excuses to avoid her until she gets the hint and stops contacting me?

Sincerely,

I Don’t Want To Be Your Friend

Poor Chris Birillo. He never saw it coming.

Poor Chris Pirillo. He never saw it coming.

Dear IDWTBYF,

If only unfriending an annoying person in real life were as simple as it is on Facebook: just click “Remove friend” and you’re done.  Easy. Painless. Quick. But IRL, as the kids say, things are more complicated. There’s no easy unfriend option, and simply ignoring the negative Nelly in your life might not actually rid you of her.  I think the success of your ignore and wait strategy with Nelly will depend on two things: 1) the likelihood of your running into her while you’re out and about, and 2) your ability to persevere in the face of her continued friendship overtures.

You didn’t say whether or not Nelly and you run in the same social circles or whether your only connection to her was through your friend who moved away.  If it’s the latter, then simply not answering her emails, or replying with a curt but polite brush-off (e.g., “I’m so sorry, but I’m afraid my dance card is full for the foreseeable future!”) might do the trick.  Even though it sounds from your letter that Nelly is not the most adept at social cues, there’s not much she can do in the face of your unresponsiveness.

On the other hand, if you and Nelly are apt to run into each other frequently, you need to be more direct.  Let’s say you’re at your local watering hole having a beer with friends and Nelly saunters up and asks if you got her last six emails and if you’re free for drinks next week.  Be polite but firm.  Say something like, “Thank you so much for the offer, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make it.”  You don’t need to give her a reason or an excuse. All you owe her is courtesy (which is more than she has shown you in the past, apparently).

The second important leg of a successful avoidance strategy is the ability to resist the urge to answer her repeated emails, texts, and calls to make excuses for yourself.  Women are socialized to be polite and to think of others’ feelings, which can be wonderful in many contexts, but which can also bring up unnecessary feelings of guilt and anxiety when trying to avoid or get rid of someone who is a drain on your positive energy.  It may be tempting to want to give Nelly a list of reasons why you can’t hang out with her, but it’s simpler (and more honest) to just say you can’t make it and thank her for the invite.  Eventually she’ll get the hint.

Your letter begs the question of why someone who makes snarky, passive aggressive remarks to you would be so eager to hang out one-on-one, but I suspect it’s because Nelly doesn’t have a lot of friends.  She has probably alienated many potential pals with her nastiness and is now struggling to find people to hang out with, which is actually quite sad, if you think about it.  However, life is short, and my advice is to limit or cut out contact with people who make your life worse.  If you’re feeling charitable and/or masochistic and want to give Nelly another chance, feel free, but keep your expectations realistic.  It might take some tough love for Nelly to change her tune.

Good luck!

Yours, Steph

Please send your burning etiquette/life questions to stephanie [dot] early [dot] green [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sound Advice Thursday: The Instagram Addict’s Lover

Happy Thursday everyone! I’m introducing an exciting new feature to my blog. To compliment Book Review Tuesdays, I’ll now be offering Sound Advice Thursdays, in which all of your burning questions on manners, relationships, and other human interactions will be decisively answered, or at the very least, guessed at. Please send questions to stephanie.early.green@gmail.com with subject line Advice.

I'm listening.

I’m listening.

Dear Steph:

I spend most of my free time with my boyfriend, whom I adore. The problem is that we have radically different views on what’s an appropriate amount for him to use his iPhone camera when we’re together. While I would rather that we take in our life as it comes and create genuine memories – like, in our minds – he would prefer to record every second of every day by taking photos with his iPhone. I understand that this is a decision he’s made on how he wants to live his life, but it’s not the way I want to live my life and it leads to a lot of conflict.

My main issues with his constant photo-journaling are: 1) I don’t like to be photographed all the time, 2) I don’t like taking pictures in front of people, and 3) I don’t want to have my own ability to process experiences determined by him in that way. But he’s addicted to taking photos and then posting them on social-media sites for his friends to enjoy. What do you suggest?

Sincerely,
Living with a Paparazzo

Dear LWAP,

I must confess that I, like your darling boyfriend, am a digital shutterbug. I whip out my iPhone and take Instagram photos in line at the grocery store or while having a romantic dinner with my husband. So perhaps I am not the most objective person to offer advice on this particular issue. But maybe I can give you a window into the psyche of the compulsive photo-taker. People like your boyfriend and me like to take photos partly to maintain a visual record of our lives so that we won’t forget our experiences, but also partly to demonstrate to others what we’re up to. It’s not easy to admit, but some of the allure of posting photos on certain social media sites (which shall remain nameless) is to show off. There, I said it.

But in order to scratch the twin itches of recording memories for posterity and showing off, one or two photos at each event, activity, or place should suffice even for the avid iPhone photographer. There’s no need to live behind the lens of the camera unless you’re being paid for it, I say.

I think a compromise can be reached here. Tell your boyfriend that while you think he’s a fabulous photographer, the Instagram equivalent of Ansel Adams, you wish he’d confine himself to one or two photos at each activity or event in your lives. Explain that you don’t want your picture taken often and don’t enjoy posing in front of other people. Request that after he’s captured the moment, then the camera should be put away so that you two can enjoy your time together, sans technology. Explain that while you don’t want to ban his photographic efforts entirely, you enjoy his company more when he’s not squinting at you from behind an iPhone. As a cautionary tale, you might also show him this video, which demonstrates the perils of Instagram obsession.

However, as for your not wanting your memories and experiences to be shaped by his photos, you, my dear, are in control of that. If his photographic portfolio warps your memories, simply don’t look at it, or else record the memories in your own way, by keeping a journal, for example.

Yours, Steph

Pinterest

Bad news: I’m sick.  I think I’ve run my immune system down with too much rich food, booze, and exposure to my crazy family.  (Sorry, family.  But you know you’re crazy.  This is news to no one.)  Anyway, I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, headache, and cough, and the situation has deteriorated.  This means that today I’m overloading on tea, Emergen-c, and reruns of What Not To Wear.  I’m also distracting myself with Pinterest.

You guys know what Pinterest is, I’m sure.  It’s one of the most mindlessly addictive websites I’ve encountered in, well, ever.  Unlike Facebook, I never run out of things to look at on Pinterest.  Unlike Twitter, Pinterest requires no reading.  Or thinking.  Or processing.  You can just sit there and pin, pin, pin. Mindless.  Comforting.  Wonderful.

Except I got up almost three hours ago and I’ve done literally nothing all morning except pin.  And the thing is, am I ever going to make or buy or do any of these things I’m pinning?  Like, what are the odds I am going to make these butterfinger and cookie dough cheesecake bars?  Or this sock dog? Or this bracelet?  I mean, I’d have to buy beads.  And string.  Come on.

Am I gonna make this? Probably not. But maybe.

Am I gonna make this? Probably not. But maybe.

But there’s something nice about pretending that I’m going to do all of this stuff.  The thing is, before I quit my job at the law firm, I always thought that when I started writing, I’d have tons of free time to, like, upcycle filing cabinets.  Turns out, that is not the case.  Even when I finish my writing obligations fairly early in the day, I don’t really feel like “creating” anything more ambitious than dinner for me and Al.  Maybe this is because I use up my creative energy writing, but when I’m done, I kinda just feel like sitting on the couch and doing a crossword puzzle, or reading a book, or watching something stupid on TV.  I mean, more power to these people who spend their free time upcycling things and making animals out of socks, but that’s not realistic for me.

Oh, well.  Maybe today I’ll motivate and finally get around to making that tee-shirt shopping bag I’ve been meaning to make for all these years.  Or maybe not.