Lessons From "Get Real on the Internet" Week

Last week I stumbled across a fun project on Pinterest, "Get Real on the Internet Week," the idea being that for a week you post only real life stuff...no instagram filters, no staged photos. Each day brought a theme to follow: foodkids & pets, clutter, procrastination, imperfect moments. I went into the week with a sense of fun and lightness, looking forward to something different to do and a way to peel back the veneer that we all paste on to showcase our best selves on social media.

People posted their photos and linked up, a couple of friends joined in, and I definitely laughed a little seeing the things everyone shared: microwave oven disasters and cupcakes for breakfast; crying toddlers and lots of dog destroyed items; messy desks, piles of laundry and sinks filled with dirty dishes; iphone games and television shows; Christmas card photo mishaps and food covered kids. All the things we all deal with every day.

The first day was simple....food. A quick snapshot of the Annie's box of mac & cheese for Chloe's dinner and I was done.

The apple makes it all okay, right?
The second day, kids and pets, had me setting out on my walk with Teddy with my mind focused on finding something "real" to take a picture of. Well, there were plenty of real things...lots of dog poop in the vacant fields where we walk, brown grass from the lack of rain, some trash floating in the creek including a lonely soda can bobbing in the middle of the water. I spied fishing line coiled around a rock next to a Pringles can and an abandoned furry boot hanging out in the weeds. I took a photo of the soda can and then one of the same view cropped just so that the can was out of frame. I took another of the fields looking back on our houses across the creek, the beautiful view, and then one where I turned around and captured the backs of the big box stores instead. I couldn't bring myself to take any pictures of the dog poop! I had it in my mind that I'd post the photos from different perspectives, showing how we edit our lives to make them look beautiful.

Still walking, I looked up and saw a great egret sitting in a eucalyptus tree, looking like it was posing for me. The sun shone on its feathers and everything about it radiated peace and beauty...so lovely it seemed set up. Normally I would have reached for my camera but instead I just stood quietly and watched as my heart flooded. I didn't have time for a photo anyway because he flew away a few seconds later, right past me to join his brethren on the lake. But, ah, that moment.

There are always those moments on my walks...a little something that stands out, that makes me stand up and pay attention, that marks the day. But no, I thought, that doesn't count as "real."

I ended up posting an old video of Teddy lapping up iced tea that he had knocked over.

Day three, clutter, led to a photo of my garage and my grown large goodwill pile. A little embarrassing to post that one and the next night I had a burst of energy and completely reorganized the shelves, finding a home for things that had just been haphazardly piled. I can now find my hangers for laundry and my bags for shopping, and all of the goodwill stuff is donated. I would have much preferred posting an after picture!

All better now, I promise.
Day four, procrastination....easy this one. A quick Instagram picture of Teddy looking super cute in a "watch me" as a break from payroll taxes. I could have just as easily taken a screen shot of Suri's Burn Book because that's a nice guilty don't-want-to-do-what-I-should-be-doing distraction too. But that wasn't really "real" either because it was just a momentary distraction, a way to clear my mind for a few minutes so I could focus on my next task. So which is real, getting the work done or the three minutes on Instagram? Both?

Teddy rocks his "watch me"
By the last day, imperfect moments, I didn't want to play anymore. I was tired of looking for the "real" and ready to go back to searching for the pretty, the heart stopping, the things that make me laugh. I was ready to focus on the good again.

So much of our lives are the dog poop and the fishing line and the laundry. We see bad news wherever we look, coming at us from all directions. Facebook even slams it at us with photos of horribly abused animals, with political rants and people writing comments they would never say to someone in person.

It's all real, the good and the bad, and I'm happy to see your good. Please, give me the picture of your beautifully manicured toes in the sand in Cabo with the palm trees in the background, show me your boy playing his new song proudly on the piano, share your puppy snuggling with your toddler. Show me all the little moments of your life that make you smile, that make it all worth it. Now I better understand what they are, and why we all do it...why it feels good to Instagram the kale and Facebook the straight A report card. We're all just searching for the joy and wanting to share it. And if you need some reassurance that other people have non-stop tantrum throwing toddlers and days when they want to tear their hair out in sheer frustration, please post that too. I'll commiserate.

I went into the week expecting to learn a lesson, and I definitely did. It just wasn't the one that I expected.

How I wish I had a photo of that egret to show you.

1 comment:

  1. Chandra, I feel the same way.
    I didn't get past Day 3 in the challenge myself.
    Cheers to rainbows amidst storms!


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