It is the middle of the Swedish summer vacation period and my Facebook feed is overflowing with instagrammed photos. Every single one shows archetypal vacation imagery – kids in swimwear, strawberry cakes, red lilac-framed cabins basking in sun, plates with pickled herring, sour cream an potatoes, endless glasses of wine, sunsets, verandahs, barbecues… – and almost everyone imitates the faded colours of childhood prints.
Why is this so?
In my mind these instagrammed moments of life inhabits the same niche as frilled curtains – an conscious or unconscious longing for the simple and therefore happy life, free from worries over money, health, environment, and governmental idiocies. Using artefacts – furniture, curtains, cushions, a vacation experience, the kids – to build an image of happiness hoped to come true through sheer force of stubbornness. It is a proclamation to life – “look how happy I am with my clever beautiful friends/family”.
It is a powerful self-deception and in times of economic recession and political chaos an understandable one. People want to feel like they are successful because just being content with life is not enough – looking good on Facebook is just as important.
And I would have no issues with it if it wasn’t for the consequences. Because we are building a virtual world conforming to a fantasy, far from the real world of flesh, bones, and money. We project an image were our kids are always well-behaved, where food materializes without someone having to do the cooking. The lawn never needs mowing, the water is always warm enough for a bath and chores are unheard of.
It should be no surprise that some people actually panics when they think only their kids are grumpy; that they are the only ones who drown under the ultimate chore of creating the perfect image; that they are alone in not being in possession of a cabin, not having money enough for all those fantastic vacations abroad (not to mention the frustration of seemingly being the only person hating waiting at airports, jetlagged as hell). And of course all restaurants are value for money, and it never rains…
No wonder people are frustrated.
Next time you are posting something consider if you post to project an image or to actually report/share from everyday life.
And if you find that you are in the process of projecting an image, think about how your behaviour affects the world. Do you want to build the fantasy, or do you want to build a society were people can feel like being just who you are is good enough?
Do you prefer tolerance, or do you champion perfection?
Me, I always strive for perfection but I value tolerance. Waking up with a headache is human, and I want a culture and a society where being human – and having the occasional headache – is OK.
How about you?