Airing your dirty laundry online – for imperfect mums

A pile of dirty washing in front of a washing machine

Anyone up for sharing dirty laundry online?

Do you sometimes scroll through other people’s online lives and wonder if you’re the only one who isn’t sailing through life from one photo opportunity to the next? Facebook is a collage of happy moments carefully selected from the scrapbook of life to stroke our egos and create glimpses of the person we want the world to see:

Look, here I am with my beautiful, adoring family; here we are in another exotic destination. Aren’t we pretty? Aren’t we special? Aren’t we happy?

Virtual street cred 

Twitter is subtler, punchier, wittier. You need a bit more virtual street cred, the right lingo. But the purpose is the same – a virtual mantelpiece advertising the you brand to the world – Aren’t I clever? Aren’t I witty?

Less-than-happy updates

But which online tool do we use when the cracks start showing, the public face slips. Is there a place for my dirty washing online? Is there a place for less-than-happy updates? Where do I go to lick my wounds online after a hurtful row with my partner, where is the online confessional chamber to own up to my parenting doubts and insecurities and mistakes? Who do I ask to Share, Pin, Like or Dig my wobbly life moments?

Lacking depth

Maybe the online life platforms lack the depth of real life relationships because the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who create them haven’t yet experienced the knocks and disappointments of adult life. They impose their shiny world of opportunity and positivism upon us, leaving us unequipped to deal with the fall-out if our realities don’t live up to the ideal.

So, we’re trapped behind strained smiles and bubbly messages, covering up a secret sea of unexplored feelings that never get to see the light of day. We feel shamed by negative feelings, compelled to delete on the spot the emotions that really touch us, that make us who we are.

What are you missing?

A recent study found that Facebook makes us feel sad – because of FOMU – fear of missing out – so while you’re sitting in your slippers in front of the laptop jealously ogling other people’s lives, you suspect they’re sipping cocktails on a beach, jumping out of planes or watching their children perform some amazing feat. Meanwhile, they’re sitting in their PJs staring at their screens worrying that you’re having a ball.

Impulsive rants and vacant threats

Social media seems out of depth when it comes to real emotion, but happily gives a world audience to impulsive rants and vacant threats. Immature men fire off rape and bomb threats on Twitter at women who intimidate them in stead of facing up to their insecurities.

Social media also fails miserably when it comes to dealing with the emotions of people touched by tragedy. No bullet-ed RIP message on Twitter or macabrely out-of-place Facebook status update can really touch their grief.

Too many glasses of wine

Sorry, if I’m being a bit morbid, today. You’re probably wondering, rightly so, if I have had one too many glasses of wine tonight.

Maybe – or maybe I’m just in a reflective mood. Maybe I’m just not bursting at the seams with uncontrollable excitement about the day, my children, my husband or my life today. Maybe that’s OK.

I’ll post a more polished PR snapshot of my life on Facebook to turn you green with envy again tomorrow.

14 thoughts on “Airing your dirty laundry online – for imperfect mums

  1. Do you think it’s because of naive, young Silicon Valley types, or do you think people really do (and have always) suck (ed) at anything except small talk?

    • Maybe you’re right and maybe social media has just made our superficialness more obvious. But somehow we’re ALL sucked into it- young, old, superficial, not superficial – it’s held up as a one-size-fits-all way of communication and it doesn’t fit all and doesn’t fit every purpose.
      I’m getting very philosophical here – which is usually not a good idea.

      • But again (if you don’t mind getting a *tiny tiny* bit philosophical) I sort of feel like we’ve always had spaces like facebook – it’s really nothing more than the online equivalent of a tedious cocktail party you have to be seen at if you want to meet the “right” people and/or don’t want to seem rude and antisocial.

        I optimistically believe that we will all sort it out and put it in its proper place in due time. (Meanwhile, if you have something important to tell me, please use EMAIL because I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE FAKE LAUGHTER AND LIGHT JAZZ.)

  2. I think we all like to paint a polished versions of ourselves and show it to the outside world, a bit like ‘improving’ your CV just a bit ;-) I personally have a rule about not washing my dirty laundry on FB or Twitter or blog – would rather speak to a friend because once you post certain things online they rarely go away…and I am a crap photographer! A part of me also suspects that we like looking at perfect pictures of other people’s lives – gives us something to envy ;-) x

    • I agree, we do show our polished sides, but it is easier to hide the imperfections online – which often is exactly what makes us interesting. We all become these super happy, shiny people online, which sometimes feels boring and inadequate, don’t you think?
      I know what you mean about voyeuristic envy though – that can be quite satisfying, but then it’s also reassuring to realise you’re not the only one whose life is not a bed of roses sometimes. :)

      • True :-) mine is but with fairly thorny roses at times! I do sometimes wonder about those perfect shots of super clean toddlers and perfect houses – my child is always covered in hard to identify goo and the house is a tip at best of times because mummy is busy writing ;-) I have a theory that if something seems too perfect it almost never is! And agree that it’s nice to read about the imperfect lives – let’s face it – too much perfection gets boring after a while.

  3. Loving the blog, so damn right too, perhaps that’s a business opportunity staring u in the face….. Start up a new online social media site…… http://www.how i reallyfeel&look.com !!! Get models & celebs to post real non-photo-shopped pics of their cellulite bums & thighs too! The thing is C when i have posted comments on FB about how i really feel about something or someone’s photo or comment, it gets taken off, is that because I’m too harsh or because people cant handle the truth???

    • Hey!That sounds like a good idea! I’m happy to reveal my emotions, but not sure about my cellulite bum and thighs though. That’s maybe a bit too far??
      How funny that your comments are taken off – by FB? What sort of things do you say? That’s even worse – so some FB editor is even screening the comments to make sure they’re not too gritty and real.

  4. The social media face you project could also be the one that you want yourself to live (not just others to envy). There’s a fair amount of self delusion as well. E.g., I’ve got 500 friends – I must be a social butterfly!!

  5. I think Facebook and Twitter gives an opportunity to be ‘somebody we’re not’, as well as showing an ‘edited’ version of who we are. But, we probably all do that off-line anyway. Its only the people we live with and those closest to us that know what we’re really we’re like.
    Personally, I am no longer a Facebook fan. I need to use it because, with some friends, it my only way of contacting them, other than ringing, but I find FB very shallow, in terms of what people discuss, post etc. Twitter, I love. I think, overall its a great community and a supportive one. You build up ‘on-line’ relationships, in terms of getting to know peoples views etc, but its usually always in a professional way. I show more of myself, in terms of my views, on Twitter.

    • Thanks for stopping by. I agree we do that to some extent in real life but it just seems we do it more and easier because of social media. I definitely prefer Twitter too. It seems more purposeful and a bit less boasty.

  6. I think you are absolutely right. I think there isn’t a good place to be “less than perfect” or, let’s face it – real, in social media or almost anywhere. People wants to hear and see the good, people get drawn into the secret and not so secret contest about who’s life is better. And we forget to stop and let it be less than perfect sometimes.
    I wrote about it quite a lot this past month, and even opened a Dreadful Days linky exactly for these kind of moments.
    Hope your mood improved!

    Got here through #mbpw

    • Hi – you know I wasn’t actually in a bad mood, just a reflective one. I do come across quite bitter and angry, I suppose, and I have more than my fair share of those moments, it’s just that I’m annoyed by the superficialness of social media (and of course there’s a lot of that in real life too).
      We all know people’s no-one’s life is perfect, why can’t we just be a bit more honest and let each other off this silly contest about who’s life is better – as you say!

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