Insta-this

The very cynical will say that Instagram is just another way for the narcissists to boast about how much better their life is.  Wow, what a great outlook.  Good luck with that.  Instead, why don’t we say that it’s a way for people to share their happiness and adventures.  An outlet to add more beauty to the world.

Whether you use social media or not, we are active participants in the practice of signaling.  It’s in the clothes we wear, the haircut we get, the purse we hold.  Signals get crossed, people argue and sometimes you even win.  Yay.  Even with your subversive T-shirts and thrift store “I really don’t care” attitude there is no escape.  The sooner you realize the game, the better you will be at playing it, trust.  I figure, I might as well look good and have fun while doing it.

But then one must also ask yourself, are you really present and enjoying what’s right in front of you when you’re pulling out your cellphone?  What about all of the times when we were younger and there was no “proof” of the good times.  But then I remember that there was, it was just in a roll of film that you couldn’t expose to light and took a few days to process.  We just bored people with albums back then, or those projectors that clicked after each picture.  Perhaps we have come a long way after all.  Now you have the option to scroll right on by.

It’s not that I disagree with the cynics completely.  Photographs capture an instant in time, nothing of what came before and what will prevail after.  I’m not saying that people are liars, just that they’re not displaying the back room action that’s also happening.  For every happy image of a baby or toddler, tears and refusal to leave whatever fun event could have followed very soon thereafter.  Those landscapes in Europe could come at the cost of being ripped off in the taxi on the way there.  But the beauty of Instagram is that for that moment, it was all good.  Nothing wrong with freeze-framing those little moments that add up to a good and textured life.  We always want to pin down what is fleeting anyways.  I say let them and feel free not to look.

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Public

Can a private person be active on various forms of social media?  There must be some disconnect in keeping your personal life under wraps and putting it on display right?  I think the line is fine and depends on where you want to set it.

As someone who writes on a blog three days a week about her everyday life and aspects of her past you must wonder how I even define myself as being private.  Well, I very much am.  I can count on one hand the number of people who I am truly myself around.  Let me list them now: my husband, my mother, my son and my best friend K.  Four.  Four people whom I trust enough to reveal it all.

I write about all this stuff because it’s my way of learning.  I document this not necessarily as a reference to mediate on later, I just think better with words.  And the fact of the matter is that I think ALL the time so it’s nice to let some of it go, you know?  I figure for all of the use that particularities can encourage, like respect and empathy, some of the universalities are sometimes good.  We’ve all probably had the guy issues, blown off commitments, been a flake or broken people’s hearts.  So it’s nice to know that it’s part of the narrative of life.  That we’re all fumbling around a little and that frailty is allowed.

Plus, what you see here is a fraction of what’s actually going on and a sliver of what I want you to see.  And whatever you read from it, be it neurosis, confidence, frustration, acceptance, all of those interpretations are perfectly acceptable.  It’s meant to be read anyways, it’s public.

And that’s where there’s trouble.  As someone who’s very much part of my history and obviously my present Andrew appears now and again in my writing.  It doesn’t always make him comfortable because he’s so private.  He’s hard to decipher but it’s intentional and I agree that it’s effective.  If you show people all of your cards, you make yourself vulnerable to their critiques and ridicule.  The difference between us is that I just assume that the feedback from the peanut gallery is just a part of developing as an individual.  If you didn’t have that reflection, how could you possibly define who exactly you are?  To know who you don’t want to be?  Plus some critiques are meant to be dismissed.  They make it too easy.

I think it’s common for anger to be defined as an undesirable trait.  In some ways I do agree.  People with higher emotional intelligence see the manipulative aspects of tantrums and how useless they are.  Most of the time they just produce tears and people thinking that you’re kind of a loser.  But I think that human emotions are far too complex to create such stark contrasts, like how the words neurotic and aware have different connotations but similar motivations.  Don’t these people just want to see and question?  Some just manage it better and they get placed behind the “fun” line on the spectrum.  So management.  Management and mystery.

I’ve always preferred to try to problem solve independently.  It’s a force of habit.  For all that you have to say about only children you have to admit that our hands don’t always need to be held.  If that makes us distant, well so be it.  At least we don’t advertise every paper cut.  Most of us just put our heads down and get shit done.

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To be social

In my twentieth attempt to quit gossip I decided to become more savvy in social media.  I figured if I spend so much time using it to gain information I might as well also be a source of one too.  I never realized how thrilling it would be.  There are so many different platforms to meet your every need but here are two of my favourites.

Have you ever felt like there are too many tabs open in your brain?  Pinterest will help you store some of that inspiration and in a format that is accessible anytime and anywhere.  If you’re a control freak like me this is an online version of one of your to-do lists but the best part is that there is no temporal limit.  Who cares if you don’t get to the file on “Decor inspiration” till two years down the road when you’ve actually bought a home.  Also, if you’re a shopping fiend like me a file called “Products” can help keep track of what is on your radar.  But trust, it’s dangerous for your cash flow because you will remind yourself of things you want.  You can follow my Pinterest boards here.

Tumblr helps to make up for Pinterest’s shortcomings.  My two most active boards on Pinterest were “Style” for my fashion inspiration and “Mapping beauty” where I posted images that I find beautiful.  But without an archive button it is difficult to locate that Emerson Fry jumper or Neil Patrick Harris’ photo.  With Tumblr you can upload these photographs but can also find them again later.  I started one of these accounts when I was looking for news about a certain Canadian ice dance pair.  US weekly doesn’t really cover the lives of figure skaters and fans always have more information.  So amongst the outfits, plates of food and travel destinations their faces would pop up every now and then.  Now I’ve kind of lost interest in them so I’ve purged my account, short a few images, and the blog reflects my current interests.  See but this is the strength of Tumblr, it allows for this type of flexibility.  That and the ability to control your content.  In Pinterest one way to garner followers is to follow individuals who re-pinned one of your items.  The positive aspect of this is that your feed reflects the preferences of so many different people form various backgrounds.  The limitation in this is that you sometimes have to weed through spiritual quotes and crafting instructions.  With Tumblr there are endless amounts of fashion bloggers to follow and they provide the type of content that you’re looking for.  There is less filler.  I run my Tumblr account found here as Kate Smith.  Surprise, surprise.

Although distinct this and other social media platforms are just a way to mold your online brand.  Of course most of us aren’t selling anything but our day to day life requires putting forth a certain identity.  Just like you had that cork board of notes, photographs and postcards in your youth, it’s here again, just online.  The best part is that you can create or erase, alter or keep whatever suits your needs in the present.  We all know that it’s written in ink and will last forever, so of course take care.  It goes without saying that one must educate the kids for sure but perhaps an extracurricular activity would also help.  There’s nothing better than going out and having an actual conversation.  But I almost feel like it’s become so banal.  Like with anything, your past actions impact the now, with or without the photos at the bar being hammered.

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