I’ve become a perfectionist. From the stoned flower child reading in a horrendously dirty house with overflowing sinks and cat-boxes to an over-achiever who posts pictures of her adventures, gourmet meals and lovely garden. I’ve gone from someone who refused to make lists on moral grounds to someone who has written blogs about how to get organized.
I’ve been headed in this direction for years, but I think these tendencies have grown exponentially with my use of social media. Now I receive pats on the back from complete strangers for my industriousness and I find the positive feedback almost irresistible. Instead of, “Look, ma, no hands,” I can now show the whole world my accomplishments. Look what the weird chick raised in Alfalfa, Oregon has done. You thought she wouldn’t amount to much, didn't you? Ha! With each pat on the back, I become more like Pavlov’s dog looking for a treat than a human being who fucks up on a regular basis. I can’t just can my vegetables, I have to show people I’m canning my vegetables. I can’t just climb a peak, I have to show people that I’m climbing a peak. I can't just make dinner, I have to show people my turnip bacon risotto with a French leek salad...oh god, there I go again...
While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with sharing your life with others, I’m worried that other people will believe that this is all my life is. Furthermore, I’m more worried that I WILL BELIEVE THIS IS ALL MY LIFE IS.
I worry that in only showing the glossy public part of my life, I’ll become more shallow and less real. Yesterday, I opened my mouth and said something super stupid and hurtful to a friend. I didn’t mean to sound like I was bragging, but it did. Like one of those perfect pictures I post, or the list of things accomplished, it only revealed part of the story. Yes, I can do XYZ in five days, but I didn’t share that I cry myself to sleep at night, become a raging bitch and scream at everyone I love while doing it. Why didn’t I share that too? Have I become so used to only being the #allthethings Teri that I can’t share the cost of #allthethings?
On the other hand, do people really want the truth on social media? I know writers and agents who have shared the truth about their lives and their professional reputations suffer. Can I share which books have sold well and which ones haven’t without harming the illusion of success? How important is that illusion anyway? People are attracted to successful people. Is that our mammal herd mentality kicking in? How honest is too honest?
And just what are you supposed to share on social media anyway? Share too much and you get derision. (Don’t you have a life? You obviously aren’t getting enough done.)If you show pictures of your food, people don’t think you are serious enough. If you share political posts people think you’re too combative or confrontational or even naive. If you show pictures of animals who have been mistreated and or ask for donations for this or that cause, you’re subjecting people to things they don’t want to see.
That leaves us cat videos, people. Cat videos.
I’d like to say that I'll stop sharing about how I try to do #allthethings, but I know I won’t. I will, however, try to post more about the price of doing them and my failures. Expect this post in the future. "I totally fucked up today and it hurt. #human"