Does anyone remember the old “brag books” our parents and grandparents would carry around? They were filled with pictures of their family? Or even the old picture sleeves that came in wallets which people actually used? (Hence the reason for the term “wallet size” on those school picture order forms!) The pictures in these books and sleeves were used by our parents and grandparents, and those before, to show off their families or proud moments. Sure, they might have been used to have a reminder of their family’s faces each time they got out their wallets to pay for braces or groceries, but I hardly believe they wanted or needed a reminder at those times! Those brag books and wallet sized photos were to show their friends and acquaintances the precious faces of their families, and the need for, or success of, the aforementioned orthodontia. Their friends likely cooed over the pictures and then reciprocated with their own. Some might even consider this exchange a “social” interaction of friends sharing pictures….or “media.”
Those two words catch your eye? Social Media. Yes, our parents, grandparents, and beyond partook in different forms of social media. The brag book came in paper form instead of electronic, but the goal was still the same: sharing family and personal highlights. At some point between turning the pages of the physical brag book and “brag-booking” on Facebook, the sharing of our lives turned into a mockery. We stopped being excited to see our friends’ vacation pictures, videos of their baby’s first steps, and life updates. Our focus shifted to mocking those who shared and judging the creation of their “highlight reels.”
People have stopped posting pictures of their families or sharing stories from fear of the highlight reel witch hunts. The same moms who once said, “I only feed my precious ones organic lollipops” now say, “I don’t feel the need to share our life on social media.” Bologna is what I say. If one doesn’t feel the need to be social on social media, close the accounts down. And there is NOTHING wrong with that, if it is what you truly feel. Maybe you really don’t enjoy it? Maybe you like sharing physical pictures with friends in person or in emails? That is great, as long as it is the true reason. Don’t let fear of being judged as a highlight reel mom keep you from sharing your life with friends. And, more important, don’t be the person who is scared to post, but keeps their account open to secretly judge others who do post. It’s not good for the mom soul. Your or theirs.
A lot of the blame for judging a highlight reel mom can fall back on social sites for moms or mom blogs. (Trust me, the irony is not lost right now.) Mom bloggers noticed other moms judging themselves against other people’s lives on social media, and quickly wrote up articles calling out the highlight reel moms.
We quickly pointed fingers and exclaimed “Those clean kids aren’t your real life! That’s just posed for a picture! Where’s the mess? Where’re the tears? Why isn’t anyone fighting?! I see her in car-line each morning, and she does NOT look like that!” Do you ever remember someone looking at the school picture in your mom’s wallet, and saying “Hmm, she looks quite different in person. Dirtier, and messier?” Of course not, but now we seem to have forgotten it is not an uncommon practice to pose for a picture in front of our spring Azaleas and share it with friends. But no one seems to remember that, and it doesn’t make for a long or brilliant article. So share joy and be nice. Done.
Sharing our highlight reels does not make us disingenuous either. Really, it is as simple as sharing what we want to share and highlight. Personally, I share the clean, non-messy moments right along with the messy ones. Just this year, two of my children commenced a baby powder apocalypse on my house that took months to clean, and I shared it to my social media. I am comfortable sharing moments like those, because I know other moms have apocalypse moments too. They may not share them on social media, and that doesn’t mean they don’t have them or are hiding them, but it’s just not what they choose to share. And, if they choose NOT to share that does not make them disingenuous.
When it comes to social media we are all best served not by questioning the intentions of the poster, but questioning our own intentions of receiving their posts and posting our own. Are we sitting back and enjoying the highlight reels? If you take away the highlight reels, all you are left with are politics and opinions, so I say roll tape!