While I am a bit absent here with my frantic stall preparation (which, I must note, is going very well, with lots of help from my assistant little bird, a.k.a. Mum) I am featured as a guest on the lovely blog belonging to Gnomeangel!
Edit – 15 Jan 2014.
Angie has taken her site down, so I am reproducing my post here, as I would like to still share it with you.
The Pollyanna effect.
Some years ago, as my marriage was falling apart and it felt like everything else was too, a friend of mine accused me of putting on a Pollyanna face to the world. By this she meant the world of Facebook (which was my only social media platform at the time.) I remember wondering what else I was meant to do. Should I post every hurtful conversation I had with my ex-husband and rant and rave about how unfair it all was? Should I air all our dirty linen in an effort to score points with ‘our’ friends? Should I list my faults and my sins as if in a confessional in an attempt to explain that it wasn’t all his fault? I certainly didn’t write posts that were deceitful or full of pretence, but if things were pretty bad and I was sitting at home curled up in a ball crying, I simply chose not to post.
I have reflected on the Pollyanna effect since then. (For anyone playing along at home who doesn’t know, Pollyanna is the story of a little girl who finds the good in every situation, no matter how dire.) I have decided that I am okay not sharing every aspect of my life online. I don’t have a problem with those who do, but tend to avoid becoming embroiled in their dramas, miseries and pain – I have enough of my own for now.
I also acknowledge that most of us are playing the Pollyanna game – posting images that show the good in our lives, rather than the bad. When I photograph something for my blog, I try to avoid including the week old mountain of unfolded washing, the grass that is two weeks overdue for a mow, the smears of heavens-knows-what on the glass sliding doors. I argue that it is because I want the reader to focus on the object of the photos, but we all know that it is vanity and wanting to present my best side!
I have always presumed that most people understand that what we read in a post, see in an image on Instagram, or read in a tweet is a mere glimpse into the world of that person, and is probably showing the best part of their life, rather than all the dirt and grit that goes along with it. Any dirt and grit that is shown is there to illustrate a point because the author chooses to include it.
But a recent conversation with a young person who was staying with me, gave me pause. She was complaining about the duplicity of an ex-partner who had said he wasn’t going out partying but had posted a photo on Instagram, smiling with a girl and a drink. As she raged about ‘how dare he lie’ I took the plunge and asked her whether judging his actions based on a photograph – a moment in time, with no context – was the right thing to do. She didn’t like my logic. And she didn’t have to – I am not her mother.
Perhaps it is a generational thing (because after all I am over 40 and therefore ancient) or perhaps we all just see the world in a different way. What I do know is that I will be trying to teach my chicks that you can’t make a decision or a judgement about someone based on one tiny glimpse into their life. Hmmm…. perhaps it is the lawyer in me wanting to make sure that decisions are evidence based. Whatever – I am still happy to admit to adopting the Pollyanna effect. I will have an authentic voice. I will share the bad – but it will come with the good, because I need to know that there is a balance in all things.
I hope that you have the ability to find the good in your life this week.