I’ve been pretty bad at blogging regularly, of late. For the last two months my life has revolved largely around the schedules of teen and tween boys whose lives and desires look nothing like mine.
Caught in a vortex of wishing it was the end of school holidays I’m craving a return to routine, yet feeling guilty because I want to be spending more time with the boys.
And then, I tell myself guilt is not a helpful phenomenon but it sits there like a red wine stain on my conscience, stale and rather obviously the product of too much self-indulgence. I think I am caught in what’s called an eternal feedback loop. I know many of you can relate.
In the slot spent driving boys to commitments in which their father and I feature little unless supplying food or money, I have been busy spooling out beautiful prose for a bank. Except banks don’t want beautiful prose, so it has not in fact been that beautiful, rather more pragmatic I’d say. Apparently people want to know how money works and how to wrangle it, and as thankfully I know a little about that, it’s nice work to have.
Anyway, in a moment between facilitating boys’ social lives and wrangling money words, last week Rory and I went out to my favourite Thai, Khao Pla in Chatswood. It’s ok we were home by 10 so it wasn’t too wild, I mean, we are at the wrong end of forty after all and look what happens then.
Over the salmon sashimi with lime and palm sugar dressing, we had one of those Man/Woman conversations, this time about Social Media.
“Social media is full of fakery,” I say, “and it irritates me. It’s a present day digital proxy for women’s magazines, with concepts and images airbrushed to a narrative of fake lives most of us will never lead. I don’t want to see reams of airbrushed, filtered, curated images which tell only part of the story, I want to see REAL.”
“Ooooh-kay,” he says, wondering where exactly this is going and if it’s going to end in an argument, “is this a problem for you?”
I give him my “der” face. “It risks creating a super-pressure for people who start to believe they’re failing if they’re not living up to the same standards.”
He puts down his fork and stares at me, takes another long, slow pull of Asahi.
“But people don’t want to share their dirty laundry,” he says, “we’re taught that from an early age. People present their best selves.”
“Well yes, but the ‘best selves’ they present are often exaggerated, and anyway we want to see people’s humanity, their perfection for being less than perfect, and if someone only ever shows an illusion of perfection claiming it as their own, I don’t trust them, because no-one is perfect.”
“Are you really telling me,” he muses, grimacing at a wayward chilli, “that people posting nice things on Facebook disturbs you?
I pause to contemplate the idea. “No, I’m saying that the image some choose to present is not the whole truth, and it is dangerous to perceive it as such. Especially for the kids.“
He shakes his head and wonders how he got here.
“So,” I say, getting a bit frazzled with this challenging of values, why can’t he just AGREE for once so we could have a good old rant about fakery? “if Phil posted a story saying he cycled to the top of Mont Ventoux in an hour and forty minutes it wouldn’t make you feel inadequate?”
“Shit no, I’d set out to beat his time, and I think you need to stop worrying.”
And so we went back to our salmon sashimi, which was outstanding.