What matters

There is just something weird about the internet today. (Okay I'm going to be negative here and I hardly want that to be my tone but someone has to just say it, okay?) These blogs where people do full photo shoots worthy of Vogue aggrandizing themselves and their lives. It's just... weird. Twilight zone weird. (I'm not going to mention any of the sites because I am not here to hurt anyone, just observe, but I'll throw out The Glow as a prime example since it's not one person in particular.)

Years ago I saw these bloggers as inspiring. And they are. These blogs are amazing and gorgeous and lush. So much creativity and effort goes into it - styling the clothes, picking a location, the props doing the makeup, the hair, the practiced photogenic poses, not to mention the photographic skill and photoshopping skill. It's a lot, okay? These people are working. These people are like a miniature magazine in and of themselves.

But what's weird about it, to me, is that they are a magazine OF themselves. It's just so weird and narcissistic. I get the urge to document your life. I have it too. Duh. Me. Blogger. But this goes beyond that, it's like documenting yourself as an icon or an idol. There's an elevated inaccessibility to it all, not to mention a sort of airless fakery, like Barbies in a Barbie dream house.

After my initial admiration, I started to feel unsettled. I still admired, but I they made me feel less than, in my never photoshoot ready world, with my badly lit snapshots and my decidedly unphotogenic face and body and well... everything really! I felt less than because, well, why didn't I have better photography skills? And why wasn't I styling my outfits? And why didn't I have such creative vision? And really, most of ALL, why didn't I have the TIME to do such things? The boring answer is that I wasn't doing those things because I really, deep down, didn't WANT TO, and I know that.

But seeing them made me feel somehow like my life, my real actual life, was less than. You could say my perception was off, but I don't think I'm the only one. We all do it, whether we want to or not, we look around and see what life "looks like" for other people in our peer group. We want to be reassured that we (in our sweatpants and dirty hair with our kid screaming in the toy store) are normal, okay? And when what we see instead are smiling children in hipster clothes, looking glowingly at mommies with perfect makeup and hair, well, dang, we feel like the bar is so flipping high.

What's hard here is that I don't want to (and I don't) judge the individuals that do all of this stuff. It's the collective effect of it all. When you see it all together, at once, it's so... strange. It's like a narcissistic mirror world, a world where everyone views themselves as a little celebrity with their own brand and image and lookbook and followers. And it makes you wonder what we aspire to collectively as a society.

I understand the urge, the desire to share your gift. We all have our gifts and passions and so often they stay dusty and hidden in the attic. We long to have someone see our gift and recognize it and maybe be blessed by it. We long to be seen and known and loved.

So I get it. But what I don't get is when the gift is just looking pretty. I take that back. We do need people who make things look pretty. I am grateful for them every time I step into Anthropologie. I've always loved the prettiness of little things and making life pretty is not a crime in and of itself. But maybe it's people who aren't just trying to make life pretty, but make themselves pretty - they are the star of every image - "look at me, look at me, look at me!"

It feels as if some bloggers are actresses living on movie sets and their blogs are packaged products that go out to their adoring fans. And sometimes the internet feels like it honors people living life on stage, as if they are more fabulous than the rest of us for their shiny, shiny lives of perfect images, bits and baubles, and endless adventures.

But I don't want to live my life on stage, I want to feel like it's okay, maybe even fabulous, to be me everyday, in the sweatpants and the dirty hair, even if I'm not taking selfies at the food trailer, going to the latest fashion party or summering in Ibiza, you know?

I suppose you could say that how I live MY life is up to me, isn't it? :-)

I do agree.

But I'm just a fish in the same fishbowl with everyone else, sometimes affected by the water we're all swimming around in, wondering what is this new world I find myself in? Trying to figure out which way is up, which way is down, what makes sense for me. It's not a world that my mother or my grandmother have lived in. I have no tradition, no heritage to guide me. It's all new baby.

This is why I sometimes get the urge to just go live off the grid, to scrub my mind clean of all this nonsense and live in the moment with the small circle of people around me and remember what matters. What matters. Not how you look, but what you do and how you love.

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