Tag Archives: honesty

honesty and social media

One Friday morning a couple of weeks ago – the first day of half term to be precise – my sons decided to do some baking. My eight-year-old has always enjoyed making cakes and buns but it’s become a real passion of his recently. On this occasion his younger brothers (aged six and just-about-three) were keen to help and I was told to “Sit down, Mummy or just take some photos of us or something.” So I mostly just watched them.

pretty buns... but what's the other side of the story?

pretty buns… but what’s the other side of the story?

It was so sweet – the three of them were totally dedicated to the task and worked together brilliantly. The older two read recipes together and divided up tasks. They helped their little brother pour ingredients and stir the mixture. They all had far too much (messy) fun with the electric mixer and even came up with a solution when they realised they’d added butter straight from the fridge (instead of ‘softened butter’)… which involved the six year old sitting in front of a heater for ten minutes cradling the bowl of cake mixture in his hands! An hour and a half later they had made chocolate biscuits and buns and were (justly) very pleased with themselves. I photographed the whole thing and shared the photos on my personal Facebook page. I felt so happy and proud of them.

Ten minutes later though, I felt a sudden need to be more honest with my Facebook friends… because although those pictures of sibling harmony were absolutely genuine, they only told one part of the story. In fact, the reason I had been so particularly happy to see my boys working together and enjoying each other’s company so much is because the previous day my older two had had the most horrible, upsetting argument. It was probably the worst argument they’d ever had and it had taken me and their dad ages to calm them down and help them through it. I’d gone to bed feeling like a terrible parent and woken up as member of the Walton family! No wonder I’d wanted to share those gorgeous, harmonious photos!

Perhaps it was the recent furore over the ‘Motherhood Challenge’ playing on my mind (with the idea that posting happy photos can have a negative impact on others*), but suddenly, only sharing ‘part of the story’ didn’t feel quite right. So I went back to Facebook and wrote about the argument the previous day too, along with my reasons for sharing that. I’m not normally that open on Facebook so I felt quite exposed (even though I only have a hundred-odd friends which is by FB standards a mere handful!). But I did it anyway because it suddenly felt like something I needed to do.

You see, as much as I enjoy Facebook, I’m aware of its dark side too. Personally, I can find it really draining. And although I do genuinely enjoy the majority of what my friends post, there are times when it all feels too much. A bit overwhelming. It can tap into a side of me I don’t really like so that where in ‘real life’ I would feel happy for a friend’s success, ‘social media me’ is envious and dissatisfied. On a bad day this ‘me’ sees the dream jobs, the pictures of angelic, perfectly behaved kids, the fabulous holidays etc. and compares my life unfavourably to that.

I know, I KNOW this is ridiculous because I have a lovely life with very little to feel remotely dissatisfied about. I’m also well aware FB provides only glimpses into people lives (those perfect kids probably smeared ice cream all over the sofa three seconds after that photo was taken) and besides which, I project just the same images of an ideal life into others FB feeds. I guess that was why I felt the need to set the record straight a bit on this occasion. I don’t have perfect, Disney-fairytale kids!

That honest post got twice as many likes and (lovely) comments as my post with the harmonious sibling pictures and I don’t think that was a fluke. It’s lovely to see each other’s happy times but without sharing some of the harder moments too, I think we’re missing something. The roundness of human experience, perhaps. And the real part of friendship – the part that makes us see each other as fellow human beings, all on this crazy journey together. Isn’t everything easier when we’re not alone?

How much do you share on social media?

***

*for the record, I had nothing against the motherhood challenge. I was tagged but didn’t post any photos, more due to apathy than anything else. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting happy photos. I certainly don’t think parents are smug just for sharing moments like these. I do think there’s a question about the impact of what we share on social media but it’s much MUCH bigger than that one challenge, it’s to do with how we adapt to knowing so many selective details about so many people on the periphery of our lives. It’s a whole other blog post!

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And then the fun began...

five inspirational quotes from #Blogfest15

Last month I went to my first ever blogging conference – Mumsnet Blogfest. It was fantastic. I’ve already written a post about how much I got out of it but I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to say in one post without it becoming ridiculously long. I wanted to write more about the inspirational aspects of the event though, so I’ve decided to share my favourite quotes from the day. (N.B. I made a note of these as they were said but can’t promise they’re word for word quotes. Often I was too gripped by the speaker to do more than glance at what my pen was writing.)

#blogfest15 panel

Five inspirational quotes from Blogfest:

1.

“Creativity is the road to revolution. It is challenge. It’s the way we fight back against those who would oppress us. So embrace it, whatever form it takes”

Val Mcdermid

I loved this. Val then went on to say that if anyone tries to “burst your creative bubble” you should tell them to go away or “put it more forcefully using a phrase involving sex and travel… “. She was really funny and inspiring and made me realise the real power involved in creativity. That literature, art and music make us think and question everything around us, opening up the world and encouraging humanity towards all sorts of achievements. So don’t doubt yourself – go, create.

2.

“Social media is where we raise a little flag of self. Offence is used to put wind in that flag.”

David Baddiel.

Ok, this isn’t really an inspiring quote so much as a thought-provoking one. David Baddiel was, as you’d probably expect, very funny and insightful. He showed us lots of examples from his Twitter feed of how easily offended people are by him. You could see in the zealousness of some of the tweets how much those people were actually rather enjoying taking offence and how it was making them feel more important – in classic bully style. As he was talking I could visualise everyone on social media desperately waving their little flags, trying to be seen amidst the masses. It made sense of how I feel on Twitter (teeny, tiny) and why trolls do what they do.

3.

 “Equality is better for all of us: it is better for our daughters. It is better for our sons.”

Sandi Toksvig OBE

Sandi Toksvig was talking about gender equality with reference to her own political party – the Women’s Equality Party which believes “Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits.” – something I wholeheartedly agree with.

I’m frequently staggered when I read statistics about inequality. Even in this country there are huge divisions between the way men and women are treated and it seems to happen across the board. I was reading an article recently that suggested you are far more likely to get a publishing deal if you submit a manuscript under a male name rather than a female one. Yes, here in the uk. yes, now, in 2015.

But lack of equality isn’t just relevant for us as women, it’s relevant for men too. The sexism that props up our system starts when our kids are tiny. It is there when girls are called ‘bossy’ (while their male counterparts are rewarded for ‘confidence’). It’s there when we praise our daughters for their looks rather than their brains, and laugh off our sons bad behaviour with ‘boys will be boys‘. And don’t get me started on “he’s just lazy – typical male!” that I’ve heard mothers fling at their young sons.

None of these gendered expectations are helpful. Bit by bit they teach our kids that some things are ok for boys and not ok for girls, and vice versa. It constrains and alters them as kids and affects their choices as adults. We need to treat our boys and girls equally so they can grow to be the people they are meant to be, not into the roles society expects of them. Equality is better for all our children.

4.

“As bloggers, authenticity is key. Trust is your power.”

Jude Brookes

This was during a session on ‘building your brand’ and Jude Brookes was reminding us that, as bloggers, we are free from the constraints that writing for another publication or speaking for a company would place us under. We speak for ourselves and if we are authentic people will come to trust us. She encouraged us to focus on telling engaging stories and building relationships. 100 engaged readers are more valuable than 10,000 twitter followers who you never interact with (and may well be ignoring all your tweets anyway).

This resonated with me as I do sometimes wonder if I should write in a certain way – follow a few more trends perhaps? – to get more followers (not to mention promoting myself more which I am rubbish at). I have worried about the risks of being too open in the past and held back a lot. Jude made me reflect on the value of honesty and it was good to have the idea of ‘quality over quantity’ reinforced by a brand specialist.

5.

“Could I have my photo taken with you? And Maddy, I can take a photo of the two of you together if you like…?

Sumbel Gilani

This was when the lovely Sumbel from Mama Not Dumber– my friend of a mere few hours at that point – asked Tim Dowling if she could have a photo with him and also encouraged me to do so too. This was obviously very excellent because it meant I got THIS photo!

tim dowling

Tim Dowling had his arm round me. I simply couldn’t hide my glee.

But it was more than that – Sumbel knew what she wanted and went for it. And she was lovely enough to notice that of course I too wanted a photo with this talented, funny (and handsome) man. Given we’d only met that morning, it was pretty insightful of her…. or perhaps I was a little too obvious in my fandom. But anyway, the fact is, she asked something I didn’t dare ask, was thoughtful enough to take me along for the ride and, in doing so, gained me a memory that makes me grin like a cheshire cat. A lesson in ‘going for it’ if ever there was one. Thanks Sumbel.

So, what have I taken away from these quotes? Be brave, be honest, be creative – and do so for all our sakes. Be thoughtful. Wave your little flag with kindness and empathy, rather than anger and offence. Let the winds of creativity and passion fly it high. Believe in yourself and go for it.

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This week ‘The Prompt’ is ‘believe’ which fits with the overall feeling of self-belief I got from Blogfest.

mumturnedmom
Also linking with Victoria’s last ever #PoCoLo. Thanks for being such a great host all these years, Vic and good luck with your blog’s new direction.
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