Saturday, January 28, 2012
The Big Bad Internets
Awhile back (maybe over the summer?) I heard an interview with John Melancamp (maybe on The World Cafe? How do you spell his name?) and during the interview he started talking about the Internet and how he thinks it's more dangerous than the atom bomb, and the biggest evil ever invented. At hearing that, part of me thought, "Gosh, he's got some issues with paranoia" and another part of me thought, "Hm... he might be right!"
Then the other day I got to talking to my mom about how the difficulties of parenthood for mothers of my generation are not at all the same as the difficulties for mothers of her generation. It seems like these days "perfection" and "most" are all that matter in parenting style. It makes for a stressful job. As she said, it can take the fun right out of parenting. And she's right, and I started wondering what happened in such a short time, and then I realized: It's The Internet!
Instead of being a regular mom with a regular life and two or three good mom-friends, we mothers of today are put on show to the rest of the WORLD. Through Facebook and other social networks, through blogs just like this one, through Pinterest and Twitter (ok, social network..) and...... well, I can't think of anymore examples right now. But we are on show all the time to everyone--to moms we know personally and moms we've never met and never WILL meet, and I think we all feel this unspoken standard that we have to live up to. Taking a picture? Move that bucket of dirty mop water from the background! Making a blog post? Conveniently leave out the part about breaking down in tears three times in one day! Let's keep it funny! Sharing a newly finished craft? Always shoot from the best angle and make sure the photo is taken from a distance that sufficiently hides all flaws! In fact, just Instagram it and it immediately looks a million times better! It's all about keeping up with other Online Moms. We have to be as good as everyone else. And it isn't good for us! This front we all put up isn't good for our readers! Because, let's be honest, we ALL have those "train wreck" blogs that we keep going back to and reading, even though they make us feel like dirt. No, we can't be as good as that mom. But we HAVE TO KEEP READING. HER LIFE IS SO PERFECT. I WANT TO BE HER.
Meanwhile, the children are drawing on the walls with permanant marker. Again. (But it never happened unless it's posted online!)
And I feel like the competition that lives in today's parenting circles is much less about the kids and much more about the moms. Nobody really cares about who the smartest child in the room is. Nobody cares who potty trains first, or who reads the earliest, or who is visiting the NASA headquarters by invitation at age four. It's all about the moms. And specifically in my own social circles (as if I can even call myself a member of anything remotely "social" except for online!) it's like the moms are expected to do EVERYTHING. Well, I homeschool and I have a little side job from home (which practically pays the mortgage) and I practice these seventy arts/crafts and I have fourteen zoo animals that I take care of nine times a day and I cut my own firewood with a saw I made myself, which I carved with my fingernails, and I suck venom out of my kids snake bites instead of calling the doctor because I'm JUST THAT HARDCORE. And what's just plain "organic" anymore? We only eat food that is SUPER-DUPER-MOST-ORGANIC-IMAGINABLE. In fact... we actually just eat air. Food has too many bad extras.
That sounds judgmental, but it's not meant to be. Hellooooo, I'm completely guilty of all that too! "Oooooo, we eat deer meat, we are awesommmme." Yeah, have I mentioned that we have an entire deer in the freezer that we haven't touched because suddenly I can't stand the idea of eating any kind of meat at all? (thanks, pregnancy... I hope this is a temporary thing because I used to enjoy many kinds of meat very much.)
But I do have to say.... our new ukulele is really cool and I love it.
However, that does not make ME cool just because for having one.
Honestly, I'm not trying to be a jerk. I'm not pointing fingers and telling people to stop being who they are--which is to say, more successful and productive that I am! I'm trying to say, NOBODY has a perfect life. NOBODY can do it all, no matter what their blog says. For every fantastic accomplishment posted on a blog, there's a mountain of laundry that remains unpictured. In every perfect family there's a toddler who never got the nap he really, REALLY needed. And it's hard to remember because nobody wants to post about the unhappy things and the unsuccessful projects and the culinary flops. We only want to post about the good stuff, and the stuff that makes us look good, but we all wish we could read a little less perfection and a little more real life in the rest of the Internets.
Am I right?
So let's all make a Chinese New Year Resolution--let's all try to not let ourselves get dragged down by the Internet! NO MORE FEELING LIKE YOU'RE NOT AS GOOD AS THE NEXT MOM. Everybody does her own thing; Nobody can do it all. Everybody posts the good stuff; Nobody wants to read about family drama. (Well... ok... we probably all do, but it's really none of our business.) Everybody has that yucky bit of tummy flab that puffs out over your cesearean scar, or stretch marks or wider hips or extra pounds; Nobody has her same body post-baby. We are all different and we are all doing our best and we are all doing the parent-thing our own way, and that's just as it should be because we are all individuals looking through these virtual windows into other people's lives where only the best stuff shows.