The ‘Reality’ of Social Media

When I first entered the world of personal social media I felt a lot of pressure.  First and foremost because I was lagging way behind.  Most people I knew had accounts for years and were experts at posting amazing tidbits of their adventure-filled lives.  Secondly, I thought I had to showcase the myriad of talents my kids had and at the time and the ages they were when I began, they really only excelled at tantrums.  However, over time as I observed the news feeds of my fellow social networkers, I quickly learned how to highlight the best of the best of my children and their achievements.  This still felt pressure-filled because I had to be on constant alert for the cool or amazing things we were doing.   After a couple years of this, I started to question the authenticity of it.  Slowly I started to post less and less, especially about my kids.  I mean if you think about it, it’s MY account so shouldn’t I post things about ME?   Wouldn’t it be weird if my kids had accounts, which they don’t yet and that’s a bridge to be crossed later, and they posted stuff about me?  My guess is they would be quickly unfollowed by their peers and probably not fair so well popularity-wise in ‘real life’.  That is unless having a mom that “Made a killer breakfast today!” or posting “My Mom did 12, count them, TWELVE loads of laundry today!  Way to go, Mom!” becomes all the rage.

I still feel pressure to post on occasion and am guilty of only doing so if something really exciting or unique happens.  Sure, I do use social media to promote causes or interests I am passionate about and I like this aspect of it very much, but again, I’m only showing me and my family in a favorable light in regards to these matters.

This isn’t real.

What makes me feel the most guilty about my ‘amazing posts’ is that these unique experiences or achievements have very little to do with the actual relationship I have with my kids.  My connection to them is something that can’t be put into words, captured in a pithy comment or a perfect picture on a social media news feed.  It’s an inexplicable magic.  It’s having breakfast with them every day.  It’s watching hours of baseball with them (please, keep it together Cubs!).  It’s working through the tough days, the tantrums (theirs AND mine), the sibling squabbles, the picky eating, the sick days, the bad attitudes or whatever else life throws at us.  It’s an accumulation of living life together and the sum total of our time together.  It’s talking with them, listening to them and some days, being extremely aggravated with each other.  It’s everything. That’s real life.

This quote from Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s new book, “The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting“, struck a cord with me.  This is in chapter five where she is debunking the parental myth that “A successful child is ahead of the curve.”

“Perhaps you don’t think you buy into the trophy child philosophy.  However, each time you post a picture of your child winning a medal but don’t post about them losing, you add to the myth of the overachieving child.”

As soon as I read this line I went to my social media account and could see that this is exactly what I had done from the start.  Yes, I have lessened these types of posts over the years, but I don’t think that is good enough.  For every achievement or ‘amazing’ thing that my kids do, I will have to be aware that I need to show the flip side of it.  Or better yet, only share their achievements with people who really know and appreciate my kids for who-they-really-are and who understand that my boys are not perfect, but are awesome regardless of the trophies they’ve earned (like grandparents, aunts, uncles and close friends).

I’m not saying we still can’t post the great stuff, but wouldn’t it be nice if sometimes we posted the ‘real’ stuff too?

Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent

To learn more about Dr. Shefali’s new book and parenting philosophy click the link below: