Family, Social Media and Selfies … Love ‘em or Hate ‘em

standing man on seashore taking selfie
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It seems to me however that every family has their own dusty cupboard full of skeletons. And, within said cupboard, there is usually a black sheep, a matriarch and a faintly sanctimonious do-gooder otherwise known as Joan of Arc. There are sometimes other variations, but usually at least one lurking somewhere in the twisted branches of the family tree.

I am not deluded enough to believe that my family doesn’t have it’s own armoire full of rattling bones, but suffice to say I love it just the way it is. (Indeed, I am probably the “troublesome” one).

But what I loathe more than anything else, more than tax returns and eighteen year old yoga students telling me to find my inner wisdom, are those on social media who try to portray a life of perfection pertaining to themselves and their family. THEY LIE!

I watched a young girl on the tube the other day taking selfie after pouting selfie, photoshopping and then posting them on Snapchat or Instagram or … “whatever”.

Yes, I’m a miserable old goat, but if any of her 500 apparent “friends” were indeed to actually meet her in the flesh for the first time, they might struggle to recognise her. The fleshy-lipped, bosom-heaving beauty with cheekbones as sharp as a knife in her picture, bore no resemblance whatsoever to the girl sitting next to me. The confidence with which she posed, pouted and flicked her hair whilst completely oblivious to the other passengers, made me question as to whether this confidence was borne from the prospect of the inevitable “likes” that she was no doubt imminently due to receive; or from the pleasure that she was getting from making a perfect version of herself. As I said, I am a grumpy old goat.

Sadly I suspect that if I did the same on WordPress, I’d probably have you all in stitches of laughter at me as I tried to stretch out the wrinkles, hold in the muffin tops and hide the bingo wings. As for the bosoms, well, perhaps the answer is simply to do a handstand. I’d have bouffant hair if nothing else, except perhaps a cardiac arrest. The thought of that level of exertion is requiring a little lie down and some ginger nuts which won’t help the muffin tops, alas, I care not.

But, back to those skeletons. I wonder if those who pose for the happy family pictures in the luxurious locations that the majority of us can’t even pronounce, truly believe their own publicity. Is it a form of propaganda? Is it advertising oneself, and if so, for whom?

And when I see beautiful photographs of beaming happy families on a gin palace in the south of France, are they really trying to pretend that their decree nisi hadn’t recently been signed, or that the youngest child hadn’t just been expelled from a rather top-end public school for selling drugs? Why must we attempt to portray perfection?

To be clear, I am not perfect. I am annoyingly bouncy, irritatingly highly strung, scream with gusto if frightened, have dyed my hair which has resulted in a distinctly purple and yellow striped tinge, have lines, wobbly bits and am a grumpy old goat. I am not saying that I love my flaws, but I do the best I can with what I have been given and accept the rest. (Just call me Joan, Joan of Arc). Surely life’s too short to be worrying about what the rest of the world thinks? Isn’t it? As for the hair … there’s some work to be done me-thinks …

Katie

Are you perfect? Flawed? Or perfectly flawed?

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43 thoughts on “Family, Social Media and Selfies … Love ‘em or Hate ‘em”

  1. Well, we’re all different, and I think that’s a good thing. I certainly get really pi**ed off with the narcissistic egotists who post selfie after selfie on social media – recently I followed and then shortly afterwards unfollowed a blog, having discovered that each travel post consisted of thirty or forty shots of the blogger in various locations, and it was all about what they wore each day to the beach or the restaurant or whatever bloody place they went to show themselves next.

    But we all want to be happy, and I think in many cases these pictures are to feed the hope / delusion that the poster’s life is better than it really is. I am certain that those of us who are content to settle for the ‘warts and all’ picture of ourselves are possibly the happiest, even though we all have our own sets of problems, although I’ve know idea how that could be measured.

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    1. Ahhh yes, I know I’m in safe territory with you here! You are my fellow grumpy friend and I daresay, had you seen the girl, you’d have turned into Victor Meldrew within moments. What a shame you weren’t there to witness it! Your reaction would have made me laugh 😆

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  2. Flawed and at peace with it here 😉 The only time I have ever taken selfies is when I was travelling aline and couldn’t find any kind stranger to take a picture of me as proof that I had been there…which means a cheesy grin selfie instead of a sultry pout (which I can’t do anyway…I just look like a fish). We have all three in our family cupboard – it makes life much more interesting 😁

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  3. Katie, some juicy topics here.

    First, on selfies, I’ve taken a few I like over the years, but I would call these self portraits and they are more “arty” than the typical Instagram selfie we see these days. We seem (as a culture) to be promoting more and more the idea that being a celebrity – famous for being famous rather than for any particular talent or achievement – is something that we should all aspire to. It’s all part of this worrying and vacuous culture, people perhaps believe that blitzing their social media with selfies is the route to this celebrity, however minor.

    On imperfect families, this reminds me of a family I used to know, and they had the nice house in a respectable part of a middle class town, the fancy cars, two intelligent and attractive children that became a lawyer and an architect, I think, and so on. On the surface they were the model “successful” family. My partner at the time knew them far better than I did, and behind the scenes all four of them were not so perfect, the parents’ marriage was a front, the mother was involved with another man, one of the children was addicted to drugs, the other had her own wild and troubled period in different ways… It was a very different picture to that which they tried to outwardly present.

    It also reminds me of those Christmas updates some families send – young Dominic is now at Eton and doing fabulously, Emma has just been accepted to a scholarship at the Royal Ballet, etc etc. How much of this is about a) just trying to show off and b) to gloss over the cracks that any family has behind the scenes…

    On imperfection generally, I have a blog post in draft about this, how when you spend time with one camera, bike, person, you learn to first accept, and then embrace, celebrate and adore their imperfections. It’s what makes them different, special, unique, and allows you to connect more deeply with them than you would something/someone who was virtually without flaws. I remember at school always being more drawn to the quirky girls rather than the obvious beauties that every girl apparently wanted to be, and every boy wanted to be with… Years ago when I was probably still in my teens, I remember reading an article in a newspaper written by a man who wrote with great passion and considerable poetic grace about his wife’s stretch marks and cellulite, and how they were mysterious exotic trails across delicious curvaceous landscapes, and so on. At the time I was greatly impressed by his article, and now I’m older I relate to it greatly.

    Anyway, thanks for prompting these thoughts!

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    1. Oooh I knew you’d have something to say on this, and I love that! Don’t even get me started on the Christmas updates … Actually do … You’re spot on. It is glossing over the cracks and trying to hide the flaws and frankly none of us like a show off.

      My late father used to call a person who showed off a ‘Flash Harry’. He never liked people who flaunted wealth ostentatiously. So often they have very little substance behind what is essentially a veneer.

      I’m with you about the imperfections. We all have flaws … after all, don’t you rather like dark chocolate? None of us are perfect! I do hope however, that you publish the blog about imperfections, I’d love to read it; I’d also love to have seen that article about the stretch marks and cellulite. I think they’re the absolute bane of so many women’s lives. Therefore, for a man to speak of them kindly shows a great love, a kind heart and an open mind.

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      1. I’m familiar with Flash Harry, though in our house it was more usually just “flash git”!

        The blog post I expect will be done within a week or so, maybe sooner.

        I expect that article is long gone, it was in the Daily Mail which my mum bought, and perhaps 20, even 25 years ago. However, I googled “in praise of stretch marks” and there are some interesting articles about fashion chains using models without any airbrushing.

        The article I remember was much more than “imperfections are ok”, the guy was wonderfully effusive in his poetic descriptions, and as a young man made me incredibly curious and eager to discover these mysterious textures of a woman’s body in later life.

        Another aspect (which my post will go into more) is how one person’s (or a camera’s!) imperfections over time actually become your new definition of perfection, because of your love of them, and familiarity with them. If that makes sense!

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      2. As a 49 year old it’s quite refreshing to see models without airbrushing. I do think that we, as women can become quite obsessed about the way we look. From a personal point of view, I have never felt better than during my month of cycling in the summer. No makeup whatsoever, but fit, healthy and despite a ton of sun cream, tanned. I only ever saw a mirror every couple of days and frankly it was lovely to stop worrying about what I looked like … probably slightly akin to a gypsy, but I FELT wonderful even if I looked like a bedraggled rat.

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  4. As I sit in bed with my nose dripping, I appreciated this post, Katie. I have recently got to the stage where I am only doing highlights in my hair because the dye makes my scalp sting, I have realised you can get a bra without undersides and very comfortable it is too, and never ever again will I wear high heels. It is very liberating!
    As for perfect families. There is someone I follow on Insta who posts BEAUTIFUL pictures of linen products, including little pinafores being modelled by her toddler daughter. This child is incredible! Whether she is sitting in a window gazing at a ragdoll or perched on a rocking horse. Now I remember trying to take family snaps of my children and they never ever stayed still for long enough for me to focus the camera, let alone getting the sunlight slanting through the window just so. I have started to wonder if this child is drugged? Does that make me a bad person?

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    1. Ha!!! I’ve just laughed loudly!! You see? It brings out the worst in us … Why couldn’t my children have sat still long enough for me to take a darn picture! You’re not a bad person! You’re fabulously fabulous!

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  5. Oh, and avoid selfies at all cost. Hate it when someone suggests one. I look 20 years older in a selfie than I do in my (kindly lit) mirror, and oddly wonky. The last person I had to oblige for a selfie was, bizarrely, Tom Baker (yes! Dr Who!). I bumped into him in Waitrose and asked for his autograph and then he insisted on a double selfie. I couldn’t say no, but sadly it does look like Dr Who and a wonky monster.

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  6. I’m also a miserable old goat, but even before I reached old goathood, my vacation pictures would be me with scruffy clothes, sports bra-related uniboob punctuated by my cross-body daybag strap, and jungle eyebrows because I didn’t bother to bring tweezers. Give me reality over perfection any day.

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  7. Perfectly flawed and would be an old goat. I henna my hair as I cannot use the chemical hair colours makes my head itch. I have become a titian red head. All photos of me on social media have been taken by me on my laptop. I do not alter them. I do the photos because everyone else makes me look awful and I do not recognise myself hahaha.

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