I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I definitely hate the fake news, the vitriol, and finding out that the people who I thought I knew and loved are really closet Michael Bolton fans. But, I really love being able to stay in touch with my massive family, laughing at dog-shaming memes, and finding out that if I were a Parks and Rec character, I would be Ron Swanson (of course) and that the word engraved on my heart is “crazy.”
A while back, I saw an article about how social media is causing a large swath of people to suffer from depression and other mood disorders because they spend too much time comparing themselves to their friends/followers and end up feeling that they are coming up short. The article went on to discuss how most people only put their best face forward when it comes to their social media accounts, leaving others to think they alone have faults, doubts, and are otherwise human.
After reading the piece, I remember feeling a little confused. I took a look at my newsfeed so I could find out what they meant. But as it turns out, nearly all of my friends are as much of a hot mess as I am. And we’re kind of proud of it. We post pictures of our screaming toddlers. We let our world know that we put on our favorite boot, only to squish our toes in cat vomit. We admit to wine and ice cream for dinner. We lament our kids’ slovenly ways and complain about any pants that do not stretch.
I started to wonder about these perfect people. Why would anyone want to be that way? Do they know what kind of pressure that is? Why would they set the bar that high? Do they never go out in public? Because we all know that the second they do, someone will see them buying McDonald’s, or notice that they’re wearing slippers in the supermarket, or a child will kid-whisper (aka yell) “Mom, why does that man smell bad?” while you’re waiting on line at the library. Because until you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s vomit-boot, there’s no room for judging. Also, we’re all in this together. So unless you want to lose your ever-loving mind and spend your days brushing a bald baby doll you’ve named Guinevere with a toilet brush, you should probably learn to laugh at yourself.
I guess a good indicator of my inability to understand the compunction to look perfect socially is the theme of the pages I follow: Inappropriate Mom, Scary Mommy I and II (because one didn’t allow for enough scariness) and Mommy Needs a Drink. There is not one socially acceptable thing said on any of these pages, but nearly everything is painfully true. And ridiculously funny.
Actually, for the most part, that’s what I have found in social media — camaraderie.
When I post that my husband turned on the dishwasher before I rearranged all the things he loaded, my control-freak friends immediately understand the cruelty of such an act.
If I share a photo of dirty socks on the radiator, I am inundated with warm and supportive messages. Sometimes, they will even share a word or two of advice as to where I should put those socks, once the offender is apprehended.
When my house smells like the flood receded, leaving behind three tons of rotten fish because my husband found a recipe for kimchi that required five pounds of cabbage and a cup of fish sauce, they all agree that his cooking privileges should be permanently revoked and maybe I should move out.
And when the man with whom I have chosen to spend the rest of my days dresses himself in a silver unitard, they all laugh at my expense. But they do it with love — and suggestions that we find a good mental health professional.
I didn’t even get chastised when I shared that I have no opinion on which way the toilet paper should go. Mostly because I’m just thrilled if any person in my house puts the damn toilet paper on the roll. Over, under, who the hell cares? As long as I haven’t been left alone, staring at an empty tube of paperless sadness, wondering where in life I went so wrong and how it is that every last one of my family members is an ingrate and possible masochist. I mean, who uses the last of the toilet paper then walks away? Only a monster, that’s who, a special type of psychopath that would dry a dog with my guest towel and then leave that towel on my bed. Or the kind that finishes the milk and then leaves the empty container in the fridge, in no way indicating that it is devoid of liquid. I think that might even be one of the early signs of a serial killer.
I am aware that there are many ways to abuse social media. I don’t live in a fantasy world where we’re all good and kind, full of empathy and concern. I know that we’re surrounded by hatred and Dallas Cowboys fans. But I also know that I can take what I need — like cat videos — and leave what I do not — like anything about the Kardashians. So keep being imperfect, odd, and/or damaged and know that I’m right there with you, answering my door wearing hot pink leggings and pretending the rat’s nest on top of my head is a “messy bun.” Rock on.
And don’t throw out that boot, just yet. Meaningfulmama has a great recipe for getting the vomit smell — even cat vomit — out of anything.
Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.
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