Wednesday 15 May 2013

Airbrushing Reality

I read this article this morning, which is titled with the headline Social network users are airbrushing reality in search of peer approval.

What? People are actually glossing over the rubbish and leading us straight to the excitement? They're editing the highlights to make themselves appear more interesting than they really are?

This is not in the least bit surprising. No-one wants to post a photo of themselves looking like they actually are, we want to feel permanently good about ourselves. We take 16 photo's and choose the one we like best, or give up and use that one photo from 8 years ago where we think we looked cool. We don't want to tell you that we spent 3 hours today doing washing or that our son just changed into his 4th set of clothes for the day because he wee'd on the way home from dropping his brother at nursery. Well, not unless it has great comedy value...

We're used to the concept that stalkers and other unwanted pests might lurk on the Internet pretending to be something they aren't, so surely it shouldn't surprise us that actually people with entirely honest intentions might just be doing similar. It's airbrushing, enhancing and editing, it's not really lying, right?

We want to be witty and intelligent and lead amazingly interesting lives.  We don't want to record or imply the mundane, and we certainly won't be broadcasting news that we lost our temper or said something inappropriate.

Having a blog is one of the ultimates in Social Media airbrushing. Everything can be re-written, cropped and polished until you're completely happy (usually around 3am) with exactly what impression you give. No-one can reply or interrupt while you re-word something that even you feel turned out to be a pile of complete drivel.

Sunny Holiday Dream
60mph Hurricane Holiday Nightmare
Food tastes nicer and you know you're a better chef when you have a gorgeous photo to prove it (well, okay, a passable photo that's mainly in focus).

Perfect Tart Illusion
Burnt Tart Reality

You can look like you spend all day, every day playing with your children in an exciting and educational way, rather than half of it in Tesco and the other half washing poo off wellies, and you never ever shout at anyone or grumble about getting out the 15th jigsaw of the afternoon.

Play Rarity
Play Reality
I don't think it's entirely a bad thing,  I have a sense of pride when something I made looks lovely, or I write something completely legible. It makes me happy to see nice photo's of my children, even if they were pulling faces at the time. I can look back on my blog and remember the fun bits, not the nightmares that took hours to clean up. I can even laugh about things that otherwise I'd despair about because actually, when you word it right, it was nothing but funny, it had huge comedy value...

Sibling Love Unreality
Sibling Love Reality

Thing is, I don't know about you, but I'm getting so used to the airbrushing that it has a different effect on me now. I don't just see the lovely cake, I see the chip in the plate or I know the mess the kitchen will be. I look for dates on photo's and find the blurred patches where the edit took place. I re-read sentences that don't completely make sense and work out what it used to say. I see the cuts in a video and I know why I'd have had to make them. I wonder who or what has been cut out of cropped photo's. I look at different status updates from people at the same event and snigger at the differences in the stories.

I've actually become so cynical that whenever I do something to my own acceptable standards first time, I don't quite believe it myself....I feel it must need some airbrushing. I look for the accidental double-entendre or the bag of rubbish at the edge of a photo, and surely it'll work better in natural light, so would you mind looking surprised again? I reword mundane to be more exciting, and I don't tell you about the day spent in the tent trying to stop the kids treading mud everywhere and holding the roof up with bits of gaffer tape, instead I tell you about the fact we spent our time playing cards as a family and singing along to some local radio station and it's cheesy pop tunes.

Remember.....objects on the Internet may not be as real as they seem..


What I actually look like today


  1. lol @ the bit about using the pic from 8 yrs ago when you actually looked cool cos erm... my profile pic is 8 yrs old! and yes, i did look much better in those days :p

    1. I can hardly believe that, you're only about 25 now! :D

  2. Shhh ... i thought airbrushing was our secret

  3. So true! Although i have put some posts on about little mr a's behavioyr tgis is more for me to get it off my chest, I dont want to look back at my blog un a few years and read doom and gloom, i want to remember the fun things we did even if they arent really representative of everyday life. Great post!

  4. I love the emphasis on positivity in blogdom. It balances out the hard aspects of raising small children!

    1. It does bring reward, it really does. I had no idea before I fell into this world just how positive it tends to be :D

  5. To be honest I prefer a bit of honesty, stops me feeling inferior about my own efforts!

    1. I think that's why I always make assumptions about what's going on behind the scenes - so that I can feel my efforts are going okay ;)

  6. Right, I must have read this post about five times and I'm finally commenting. Like I said, it made me a little sad because you seem quite jaded in writing this and I'd hate you to feel that way. Your blog is terrific. Your writing is great and you never fail to make me smile. The way I see my blog is a way to record the big events and have something to look back on. In ten years time we won't remember those rainy Tuesdays when we woke up with a headache and shouted at the children because we were grumpy. We'll remember the days out and the funny stories. Those times when we were making memories. There is nothing wrong with using your blog to record the happy times, we remember those more than the mundane so why not write about them? It's not about presenting yourself as the perfect family. I don't really enjoy those blogs that are all 'look at my perfect life', I think you're honest in your blog. You have a clear voice. That's the important thing, no matter what you are writing about.

    1. Well thank you. I'm incredibly proud you say such nice things about my blog. I'm glad it makes you smile, it makes me smile too. It is a record of the fun stuff, a reminder of what we have :)

      (It was a hard week last week... ;) )

  7. Lol, it took me a while to work out what you did there ;)


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