I love the internet. Really really love it. But sometimes I wonder if it’s become too much of a part of our lives.
I read a lot of amazing blogs, watching as blogging has turned into a rapidly growing industry. This is great, and as a good friend of mine said when I was discussing this with her, there are times when you can find validation through blog posts when you need it most. In fact, without realising it, she quoted what I’d always hoped to achieve with my blog. I really want parents to know it’s ok not to love every second – even if the guilt is still silently eating away at me as I sit on the sofa, child free, writing this post drinking hot cups of tea.
But I digress, as I always do.
Because she’s right. There is much needed validation all over the internet, and I gratefully devour it from my phone while I’m hiding in the toilet with a bottle of gin. But something else is happening as these blogs progress from being people writing for love, sanity, and rock n roll, to businesses and brands. We all know that baring all, questioning lives and choices publicly as a blogger is part of the job, but are us readers spending so long pouring over other peoples lives, that we’re beginning to overanalyse our own, and questioning our own choices rather than just living.
The line between a professional blogger and real life is becoming more and more blurred, bordering on becoming more dangerous to our confidence and image than a celebrity magazine is. I agree with the slamming of airbrushing – it fills me with rage actually how much this impacts young people and their image confidence. But, what worries me more is that we are failing to acknowledge – in anything more than passing jest – the overflowing camera roll and filter(s) as the perfect image is selected and manipulated, whether it’s grabbing a cushion to hide our hairy legs with our evening glass of wine, or using a bowed mirror to show off that outfit rather than the nearest. We’re all the same, my timehop proves I have increased this habit over the last few years, swaying the reality for perception.
The thing is, I don’t know about you, but reading a ‘normal’ person (as so many bloggers are branded) over analysing their Instagram-blog-post captured life, makes me question my own life. Which is why, as I was on the brink of an emotional crisis, I was amazed to get a text from my friend.
“I am totally having life envy of you right now”
I was shocked, sitting in my study (room of junk doom) in my scruffs pulling my hair out with edits, wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. Being a writer isn’t glam, and having a publishing deal hasn’t made me rich and famous. In fact, quite the opposite, the house is a tip, and as supportive as my publishers are – they’re awesome – I am filled with worry about whether I’m good enough. OH, and if one more person suggests that I’m the next EL James I may punch them in the face. The necessary evil of edits made me feel anything but good about myself and my future.
I told her this, and she referred me to my Instagram. At the time, it did look pretty damn good. A couples holiday in the sun, actual people reading real life copies of my books, running, happy children and good food – I had snapped the best parts of my life, and I was loving it. But what I hadn’t snapped, was the fact we had oven chips three days in a row. Or the huge wobble I’d had when I saw somebody on my Instagram feed having a great day in the office, an office very similar to the one I used to work in. In her lovely outfit, and shiny hair, I’d looked at her picture, looked in the mirror and wondered what the hell I’d become.
Did I want that life back? I sat and battled with my mind, it only becoming worse when my freelancing contract came to an end and we lost a substantial monthly income.
Which caused me to gaze longingly at the stay-at-home mum who adores being at home with her children, who bakes, who has time to read and an immaculate house. Imagine having time to do all that, and spend time with the boys.
So I began to pour over these Instagram feeds, these blogs where people talked about working, about staying at home, and just as my friend was calmly reminding me that if my life looked Instagram glowing, then perhaps they had frozen pizza with extra grated cheese and behind them was a pile of ironing their friends offered to do (I’m unsure if it’s out of pity or disgust that my friend helps with my ironing). I poo-pooed her. Of course their lives were perfect. Except the career woman quit her job, and the happy stay-at-home-mum posted a picture of a tantrum, followed by a massive glass of wine that she was necking before they even went to bed.
I took a breath and finished my edits and the self-loathing vanished almost as soon as I pressed send on the email. I read a few more blog posts about people talking about how they were going to move their lives forward, about what changes they were making, how they were going to reach the sacred work/life balance which I don’t think actually exists for a mother, and I realised, I was done with overanalysing.
My brain cleared, I cooked yummy food, wrote some outlines for a new book, and enjoyed a work free day with the children, and another putting my house back together, fully aware that for nearly eight months I’ve ignored it. The dust behind the sofa proves this.
I enjoyed my life just doing what I was doing, instead of wasting it thinking about what to do next.