Tonight I saw my digital self in a new light and I was reminded of the immense effect social media has on my own life. It all started with my daughter’s daycare requesting a family picture for a project they are working on. It is not surprising at all that we didn’t have any actual pictures in our house that she could bring- despite the fact that we recently had professional family pictures taken. In fact, it made me realize that I hadn’t done anything with our family pictures- not even downloaded them from the digital album that I had viewed them in.
In an attempt to make printing them easiest I used my phone to upload the pics I wanted to Facebook so I could stop quickly at the DIY photo kiosk at our local grocery store and turn my digital images into hard copy pictures. After uploading the pics I ran a few errands and attended to my sick daughter (the reason for being able to run a few errands and not be in the classroom today). It was several hours after uploading the pics that I checked my phone again. I was shocked to see over 50 likes on our family pics.
It was a pretty great feeling. A bunch of people had commented, including a bunch of friends we haven’t talked to in a long time. People had great things to say on Facebook and the joy didn’t stop there. I got 4 text messages from friends I haven’t heard from in a bit that expanded into text conversations updating each other on the recent happenings in our lives. It was this experience that served as a great reminder to me of both the power of social media and the smoke and mirrors used in the digital representations of our lives.
Getting professional family pictures done was a first for us (other than our wedding pictures). I planned out a nice lakeside location in fall during sunset. There are lots of things we, as parents, should know are not going to go as planned. In hindsight, I should have realized planning a photo shoot with a 1 & 3 year old the hour before normal bedtime was going to be a challenge- and a challenge it was. The tone was set by the super cold September evening we got- 15 degrees colder than the average evening temperature that week. My 3 year old refused to smile for about half of the pictures and my 1 year old was rocking a near-constant snot-stream (as documented in the photo below. We left the photo shoot commenting that it was a complete fail- hoping we would get at least one nice picture to justify the money spent.
When I looked at the pictures I posted (based on my desire to print them) I realized just how different the story the pictures told was from the real experience. We do look like we are having fun. I can see how people like Madison Holleran, whose story you can find here, become disillusioned by the “lives” we see on Facebook. My ffriends (Thanks Jason Millar for the new term) didn’t get to see the ‘threenager’ sass, the chattering teeth, and all of the out-take pictures (not to mention the later than normal bedtime followed by regular wake-up time melt downs).
After realizing how deceiving the pics were I thought about posting some more of the real story to go with the pics- but right now I am just happy looking like the family that is happy and has it all together.
I have always known that social media doesn’t tell the full story, but my experience today combined with our recent readings and conversations in class has made me realize just how different my own digital identity is from my entire identity. I agree with Veletsianos’ article The Fragmented Educator that these pieces of my identity are authentic- but they are just that, pieces, and not the whole story.
Enjoy the snow,