Wednesday

Social Media: Are Parents Catfishing Each Other on Social Media?

Warning: If you get easily offended this probably isn't the movie for you.



I recently saw a trailer for Bad Moms (included above), which stars a lot of funny celebrity moms (Yesssssss, Christina Applegate and Kristen Bell!).

I'm not crazy about everything in the trailer, but it honestly looks like it could be pretty funny overall! Regardless, it got me thinking, so buckle up.

It's hard to be a mom (or primary caregiver) in this day and age, especially with perceived social media perfection glaring us in the face day in and day out. But is it really real? By portraying these perfect lives with perfect children and perfect marriages are we essentially catfishing one another?

Keep in mind, what I'm about to discuss can apply to anyone (single, taken, married, childless, parent, etc.), but today I'm focusing specifically on how this affects parents. I'm also not talking about the occasional poster that only hops on social media to post a birthday or holiday picture now and again. What I'm talking about is an extremely intentional behavior. You get the idea!


The Parent Struggle is Real

All I want in this life is for my boys to grow up to be decent people and you'd think that would be enough; but the reality is if you're not baking perfect homemade bread in your solar oven that your kids built from plans off Pinterest with one hand and styling them in coordinated organic cotton polos for a psueod-candid photo shoot in a park with the other ... you feel like a failure


One of 3 pictures we took together in 2015.
Oh, and don't forget to take the obligatory "happy couple" selfies with your spouse while gushing over how amazing everything is, how you're more in love now than ever and how you can't imagine life without such an utterly perfect human specimen. There are probably elements of truth in these sentiments, which is fabulous, but are you really that overcome by utter marital bliss every day?

I love my husband, but there are very few moments in an average day when we're: A. alone  B. looking decent enough to want to capture those moment in time and publish them for the world to see and C. feeling quite as overcome with emotions as the hallmark-esque, saccharine captions expressed in those social media spousal love declarations. Again, we love each other and we've been married for nearly 11 years, but that just isn't our reality and I don't think it's many other couples' realities either. In fact, we have personally witnessed a couple mid-fight stop to take one of these selfies, caption it with their undying love, then commence to fighting once again. Am I in the twilight zone?



It's All An Illusion

Everywhere I turn, parents on my social media feeds are constantly posting pics of their perfect, happy children having these amazing moments that look effortlessly sweet, but so many have a distinctly intentional undertone. These tend to be punctuated by posts with their partners about how beautiful their lives are together. I'm really glad you're all happy, especially in this rough world we all inhabit, but are you really that happy 24/7?

I think it's really important to remember that social media provides an incredibly controlled view into someone else's life. It's not real life, it's an illusion. 

I see other moms getting caught up in beating themselves up because they're taking care of their children perfectly well, but they're not attaining that 21st century wondermom-ness that's being fueled by posts like the ones I mentioned above. I even catch myself occasionally wondering--Am I doing enough? I mean, REALLY enough?
No, my kids do not look like this every day!

Let's keep it real! On an average day, many of us barely have enough time to feed our kids, dress them, get them to school or home school them (where my homeschooling moms at?), then work and/or take care of the house. Squeezing in quality spouse time often consists of watching Netflix or the DVR after the kids are in bed for some mind-numbing adult TV. Then many of us spend forever trying to fall asleep while we go over our exhausting mental lists only to wake up sleep-deprived to do it all again. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

Being a spouse and parent is totally exhausting a lot of the time and that's OKAY!

Let's be honest, I have 2 kids with a number of different things going on including severe ADHD Combined Type and a severe ADHD Combined Type spouse. My house does not look like a catalog, my children are not always smiling and I am not the model of motherly perfection--but that's okay!



Keeping it Honest

I want to emphasize the fact that I think it's okay if you enjoy sharing the highs more than the lows on social media and I'm not suggesting you feel guilty if this is how you prefer to keep your feed. After all, I love seeing other people's joy as much as the next person! I also do believe that there are families that are just generally sunny on an average day. However, I think that the everyday norm is far from the extreme degrees of utter perfection presented on social media and as a result it's causing many fantastic parents to feel as though they're not enough. That is where I take issue.

The problem isn't that you're posting happy moments, it's that these moments are often highly exaggerated and implied to be the norm.

 Why are we allowing ourselves to be pressured to be something we aren't or feel something we don't? I'm not suggesting we all start posting pics of our angry children and their frustrated parents (though I find the tastefully humorous posts of this nature fairly amusing), but I do think we need to be more honest about our daily lives. If you're having a rough day it's okay to share it in my opinion. No, I don't think a 12-page rant is a great way to engage with your friends and family on social media (save those for the rare bestie chats you sneak off to have when the kids are napping/sleeping/otherwise occupied), but a quick note now and again wouldn't hurt and odds are the people that care about you will support and understand you.


In fact, I've found some of my favorite social media posts have been ones touching on a common struggle many of us deal with. Again, I tend to prefer humor for delivery, but regardless it's refreshing and seems to bring people together.  

In the end, I think the key to healthy social media practices as parents and spouses (for ourselves and others) revolves around balance and honesty. Be honest about your life, don't over-inflate it until it looks like a caricature or goofy 90s sitcom full of canned laughter and group hugs. On the flip-side, don't allow yourself to be pressured (easier said than done) by people you follow that tend to make a habit of this. Life isn't all pensive moments in the woods and shiny, happy children in crisp, white outfits eating ice cream cones in a dainty fashion. Life is messy and full of bumps--highs and lows. 

I'm so discouraged by how much we as parents and spouses are pushing ourselves to live up to these unattainable standards presented on social media.
I think it makes the lows feel lower and the highs feel not quite high enough. Share your happy moments and celebrate the highs with the people who follow you, but don't forget to keep it real! 


And if you find yourself feeling down because you don't do "enough" remember that social media's portrayal of "enough" is pretty much a myth and it's better to do what you can well and enjoy the fun moments when they pop up rather than force them or feel discouraged by comparing yourself to others day in and day out.

In the end, it's your feed and people will follow if they want and unfollow if they don't; unless they're worried you'll notice they unfollowed and want to avoid drama, in which case they'll just roll their eyes at your posts behind your back (Yay, social media! lol). This is all just my opinion and something I've noticed for some time that I've seen other moms express relating to in the past. Take it for what it is ... or don't. ;)

What about you? Have you found yourself struggling with the "Am I enough?" social media pressures of parenting and being a "good" spouse?


Note: This post is not sponsored or associated with the movie "Bad Moms". All opinions are my own. 

6 comments:

  1. I love this! I've already struggled with it enough as a wife - but I'm currently expecting and already am starting to feel it some without her even being born yet. I SO needed this!

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    1. Yay! :) And I hope your baby bump is doing well!

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  2. It's been a long road teaching myself to scale it back. We all want to be perfect but I think being imperfect makes us perfect and allows our kids to understand appreciate our faults as well as disappointment.

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    1. I agree! Thinking about how the pressures we as parents put on ourselves and how it trickles down to our kids as teens and young adults definitely concerns me now that social media is literally a part of daily life. It's amazing to be connected, but tough at the same time. We (those of us born in the 80s or before) didn't grow up like that. It's such a different world in some ways!

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  3. I've seen many times the people who gush over their spouses on social media are the ones who are struggling the most. I also REALLY want to see that movie!

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    1. It's so true and sad. :( Right? Could be so funny!

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