Social media is weird. Who would have guessed ten years ago that so many of us would feel an intense compulsion to share what they ate for breakfast or take so many darn selfies? As an amateur cultural anthropologist I have watched as the world has gotten odder and odder around me fuelled by the fiend that is social media.
People (myself sometimes included) now spend hours and hours of their precious lives and hundreds or even thousands of dollars creating Pinterest or Instagram worthy weddings, DIY projects, meals, parties, and lives. Now, if someone has a cute idea for a wedding photo or a children’s party favour anywhere in the world, it gets shared and shared… and shared…. and shared and then crosses over into your real life when you go to a potluck and someone has made Unicorn Poop Cookies or some other absurdity.
Someone needs to call the world out for its ridiculousness. Someone needs to stand up and say that we have gone too far! That none of these things are reasonable or normal! That we need to stop working so hard and spending so much money to make our lives look like they’re fun and actually live those lives!
Since no other white knight has appeared to set things straight, today I take it upon myself to declare that we are all weirdos who have been driven to spend far too much time and money on terrible or unimportant things thanks to social media.
Here are ten of our most serious failings:
1. We Now Take Pictures of our Food (Even When It’s Gross!)
Back before the internet and digital cameras, people didn’t take photos of what they were eating that evening. That’s because it was expensive to develop film. You didn’t waste that stuff. Nowadays, every picture we take is basically free and we have become far too profligate.
While there are some meals that are so special or breathtakingly plated, I can understand the urge to snap them, I really don’t need to see what you eat every Friday when you go out or what you cook every evening. I mean, I’ve seen someone at a restaurant take five minutes getting the right angle on their meal before eating a single bite. By then the food is probably a nice and appetizing lukewarm. Yum. Worse still, scrolling through social media feeds now makes me hungry and makes me want to go out for dinner (which is not in my budget).
Here’s my tip: eat your food instead of trying to immortalize it.
2. We Are addicted to Mason Jars
I would like to propose that we start a 12 step program to help people overcome Mason jar addiction. I will admit that I own a lot of mason jars, but I use them for one thing and one thing alone: canning food. That is what they’re made for. That is the only use that is allowed.
They do not exist for you to cover with macramé or spray paint rainbow coloured, or glue something on the bottom and them make into a wine class. There are wine glasses for that. You know where I’m now seeing those Pinterestafied Mason jars? At the thrift store. Don’t waste money wrecking a good Mason jar.
Just because everyone you know is Pinning cool things you can do with Mason jars does not mean you should join the bandwagon and get out your hot glue gun.The only way through this is to go cold turkey. You can do it. I believe in you.
3. We Take Elaborately Posed Pictures of Children
These days taking pictures of your children starts even before they’re born with pregnancy belly updates every few weeks. Once they’ve left the womb, there are the monthly photos that aren’t complete without a baby onesie prominently displaying the number of months that child has been in the world.
Parents are practically building in-home portrait studies with backdrops and lights. Got a watermelon or pumpkin laying around, then hollow it out and plop your newborn into it. Got cowboy boots? Well, they’re a great to put your small baby inside just so that you can take that oh-so-sharable picture. Does it matter if the boot falls over and your child hits their head? All in the name of a great post!?
If you want to take it up a notch, then get some props involved! Have a mirror? An empty frame laying around? How about some Christmas light? A chalkboard? A beloved family pet? A vintage suitcase? An elaborate wooden kissing booth? A hand knit peapod costume? A baby sized nest? If not, go buy one and then get out your camera and start snapping. Because obviously your child will see and appreciate your hard work and stay still for long enough for you to get just the right shot. That’s how children work, right?
4. We host Elaborate Parties for Children Too Young to Remember
Some parents must really think the rest of us are slow. When they plan an elaborately organized birthday parties for their one years olds with themes, hand painted directional sign, numerous creative food stations, five foot tall decorations, homemade tablecloths, gourmet menus, professional photographers, and dessert tables that would give the handful of toddlers in attendance diabetes with just one look – they want us to think that these parties are for their children.
These parties are not for their children! Their children would be happy for hours with an empty box and a streamer. No, these parties are for their Instagram and Pinterest feeds, they’re to make the other Mommies feel jealous and inadequate, or they’re to make the world think their family is perfect. Or (more likely) they’re to promote their party planning business/lifestyle blog so that you’ll hire them/read their blog/buy their book/share their pins.
Do yourself and every other Mom a favour and plan a buy a cheap plastic tablecloth and a cake from the grocery store. With all the extra time and money you’ll save, you can hire a babysitter and take a nap. After all, you have a one year old. You need one.
5. We Make Holiday Themed Foodstuffs
I know what you’re thinking. You’re about to tell me that holiday themed foodstuffs have been around long before Pinterest or any other social media sites. Of course they have. Grandmothers have been making flag cakes with strawberries and blueberries to celebrate Independence Day for generations. I’m not talking about the things we’ve been doing for years. I’m talking about entire buffets filled with only themed food.
As a kid, I always loved how around Halloween someone would make something like witches fingers for dessert with lady finger cookies and slivered almonds for nails. But nowadays, that isn’t enough. Nowadays, you need to serve pop in a hollowed out pumpkin bowl, ice cubes with plastic spiders frozen in them, pizzas covered in ghosts, blood spatter cookies, zombie meatloaf, and black light lemonade. Sounds tiring. Who has all that time to spend slaving in the kitchen just to have it all get eaten up in 20 minutes by hungry guests. Also, all that entertaining is expensive.
Enough already. I mean, you can even find menu suggestions and themed recipes for Martin Luther King Day.
6. We Have Baby’s Gender Reveal Parties
What the heck is a gender reveal party? The first time I saw this, I thought that this must be something people do at a baby shower. But no, this is another baby related party. A new baby related party. The gist of it seems to be that you get a whole bunch of people to come over to your house (because when you’re pregnant you totally have the time, money, and energy to clean and cook and entertain) and then you either serve people a pink or blue cake, or open a box with pink or blue balloons or break into a piñata with pink or blue confetti, or something.
None of this can apparently be done unless it is videotaped and professionally photographed to share on social media with the people you didn’t think were important enough to actually invite to the party in the first place. Extra points if you capture the disappointed reactions of older siblings so that you can make money on Youtube or if you also have a dessert table that is liable to cause diabetes in at least someone present (I’m beginning to think parties these days have become just an excuse for an elaborate dessert table?).
7.We Take Videos of Ourselves Taking Things out of Boxes (or we watch them)
If someone told me 10 years ago that millions of people would watch videos that consisted of little else other than watching people open a box, take things out, and talk about each of the items, I would say they were drunk. What could be more boring? Why are we doing this? Huh? Worse still, the people watching these videos are probably going out and buying a whole host of products that they don’t need.
8. We Make Things with Pallets
Making furniture with pallets is the new making everything with mason jars. Pallets are terrible. I used to work in a big box store and those things have splinters, and loose nails, and rotting wood galore. You do not want to use them for your wall art, chicken coops, headboards, porch swings, children’s play teepees, baby gates, or coffee tables. Also, in case it wasn’t clear, pallets do not make good bookcases. Do you know what makes a good bookcase? A bookcase.
Sure, you might think you’re saving money by making something with a pallet, but most of my friends who spent time and money making pallet furniture, eventually threw it out and upgraded to nicer set. It’s better to save up and invest in something of good quality because tetanus shots are expensive.
9. We Take Selfies of our Feet
I am a bit of an Instagram newbie. For years I only had it to look at pictures of my sister’s kids. I had one friend (my sister) and I did not post pictures myself. Recently, I explored Instagram and as I was scrolling through the pictures one, I noticed that several people had taken pictures of their feet. One was captioned “Going for a run,” while another was captioned, “Big day for me.” Selfies are weird enough, but foot selfies? Is it supposed to be artistic? I don’t get it.
I do realize that this one is harmless from a financial perspective – it costs no money but I had to include it because I am so perplexed by it. Anyone who posts foot selfies – please explain why in the comments!
10. We Collect Thousands of Inspirational Photos for For Our Weddings
Before social media, brides planning a wedding bought a couple of magazines at the corner store and perused them for inspiration. Now, a newly engaged woman’s first stop is often Pinterest where hours are spent collecting thousands of pins from the perfect wedding dress (which will inevitably be last season’s style and no longer available) to elaborate wedding photos involving all the guests spending half an hour trying to arrange themselves into a perfect heart.
Who hasn’t been a bridesmaid in the wedding party of a bride who saw one too many DIY ideas and at some point kidnapped you and forced you to hot glue gun burlap to places that burlap should not go? A wedding doesn’t have to be InstaReady or PinPerfect. It just has to be a fun day where you pledge that you’ll love someone in front of people that you care about.
Honestly, handpainted signs, gourmet popcorn bars, and expensive dessert tables are not necessary. Make love, not time and money sucking pin-projects.
** This post was written in a playfully teasing tone. If you’ve committed any of these social media sins, take heart – I have too!