Like almost everyone, I made some resolutions this year, and I thought about posting them on Facebook. That will make them stick! I figured. But then I thought, who really cares about my resolutions, other than me?
What to post—and what not to post—has been a subject on my mind at the start of this year. There's a trend right now, on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere, of "365-day gratitude projects." Gratitude journals are nothing new, but posting your thankful thoughts on social media—a daily "gratistatus"—to share with everyone who follows you, is an idea that's been around just a few years, and in 2014 is enjoying a surge in popularity. The idea is every day for the coming year, you write or photograph (or both) something or someone for which you feel appreciation. You might have seen these updates in your feed back in November, when friends wrote such posts daily throughout the month in the spirit of Thanksgiving. It was sweet. To a point.
But after a couple of weeks of repetitive gratistatuses about amazing husbands and kids who made honor rolls and so on—and I know I'm going to be called out for the shrew I guess I really am for this—I couldn't help nodding in agreement with this blog post I read on Snarky in the Suburbs:
I used to like the month of November. It was a low pressure month. Sure, there's the whole cooking a gargantuan meal that will take you two days to prepare and be consumed in under 15 minutes because a football game is starting but besides that your only really "must do" is help your kid's clean out their Halloween candy baskets. Now November has been ruined. It's become the show off month. 30 days of "look at me, look at me" where the boastful pummel social media with a flurry of blustery prose disguised as gratitude posts.
Now that we've embarked on a brand-new year, I have to ask, Am I the only one whose skin itches at the thought of 365 days of such posts, from multiple friends? (Possibly my soon-to-be former friends, if they read this blog entry.)
Here's an example from a 365-day gratitude project, on Facebook:
"day 5: I am grateful for apples." With a photo. Uhh... In case we forgot what apples look like?
I can't very well get away with accusing someone of being a braggart over fruit, so maybe the only crime committed here was that of being boring. But if you're subjecting your followers to an entire year of such posts, that may be just as bad.
Maybe I'm just getting sensitive to what's worthy of posting—what people who choose to be your friends might actually enjoy reading or seeing, vs. just posting whatever crosses your mind or camera roll willy-nilly—and what isn't. I'm sure this has something to do with my big kids getting older. I snapped a pic of a cute moment my daughters were having when my bigger girl asked, "Mommy, are you going to put it on Instagram?" It was an innocent question, but I cringed. On the one hand, certainly if anything's worth sharing with family and friends it's news and pictures of our children. But when my 8-year-old's reaction to my taking a picture is whether it's going to be uploaded straight to a larger audience, and knowing she's a few short years away from posting whatever she wants to herself, I seized the moment to teach a mild lesson about restraint: that I loved the picture, but this one's just for us.
Of course, I'm not going to stop posting pictures of my kids. But I want them to learn this: Not every moment or thought or possibly-regrettable picture needs to be posted online.
A friend recently shared with me not long ago a thought-provoking post by blogger Allison Tate, who had many good points about what we choose to share, though this one particularly stuck out:
Everything we do these days can be validated in an instant by posting it on social media -- we even post our meals and desserts for our friends to ogle and "like." Maybe it is a valuable skill to learn to be able to say, "That was awesome," with just the people who experience it with us and not the outside world.
So in the new year, I'll try to use a little more restraint with what I post, and enjoy just being in the moment more. It's fine to share our family photos, witty observations, challenges and triumphs, and sweet snippets with one another. Most times, the people who care about us genuinely enjoy them.
We just don't have to share everything.
For tips on raising digitally smart kids, check out this video:
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.