Updated: Jan 8
Today I've been ruminating on last year's social media interaction. On my instagram feed this past few days, as the old year has ticked over into the new, and the brand new decade has ushered in, many of my followed accounts have been posting their best nine squares.
These little images of perfection are a bit of a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand they inspire, get me moving on my own projects and posts, but equally they make me terribly jealous, and even spark depressive episodes.
Life is always so beautiful and artfully arranged in instaworld isn't it? I am as guilty as anyone of striving for the perfect square, of editing my shots, blurring the edges, fading reality until it resembles a fairytale view. Real life, unfortunately, doesn't come with these filters. In the cold, grey light of a January morning everything looks a little tired, miserable and in need of attention.
But there is an upside! That's where the positivity comes in. Instagram and Pinterest can often give me the kick up the butt I need, the passion for progress gets reignited, and off I go on a new project. This week it's the kitchen floor. After nearly two years of bare concrete, I've finally worked up the courage and enthusiasm to lay the underfloor heating mat, and start putting back the gorgeous terracotta tomettes we dug up all that time ago. Every now and then, I have to search Pinterest for a bit of floor porn, just to convince me I'm doing the right thing, and it can look beautiful again (Well not that we have seen it looking beautiful, as when we moved in it was damp and mouldy, muddy, broken and disgusting, but I'm sure in its heyday it was wonderfully scrubbed and polished every day by a proud housewife)
The trouble is, often I'm surfing instagram and pinterest late at night, tucked under the duvet in my jim-jams, legs achy from the days labours and ready for a good night's rest. My mind, however, is full of plans and images, raring to go and itching to get started on the next wave of decorating, to create those insta-ready images. This is a dangerous time of the day for me, when my bank balance is liable to suffer a hammering as I enthusiastically order murals, paint, panelling, tools and equipment, only to deeply regret it in the morning, or forget about it until a parcel arrives and I think, Oh Lord what did I order this for?
I have many a jiffy bag or battered box stashed in the darkest spidery corners of the house, some not even opened, containing modelling clay, balsa wood, gold paint, staple guns, glue guns, screws and tacks, bits of fabric and trimmings, all bought with great gusto for the latest make-over and upcycle project, only to be discarded with the cold reality of reason, no I won't be able to cover up the crumbling wall plaster, reassemble that eighteenth century collection of broken mirror frame pieces, repair that Georgian chair back, reupholster that footstool because I'm simply a clumsy and unskilled amateur with delusions of grandeur. I'm the sort of person that the huge barn shops like hobby lobby love, enthusiastic to the point of mania in the aisles, hopelessly despairing at home.
But I'm really quite good at winging it, at presenting a perfect square to the world whilst just out of frame the house crumbles gently under the weight of chaos!
There are not many of us who are brave enough to present our real lives for scrutiny on facebook and instagram, the nearest I get is the occasional 'before' shot, to show off how far I've come, how much I've achieved, a junkie seeking gratification from likes. It is a fact that we get an endorphin surge from positive interaction on our social media, and I'm definitely guilty of actively posting to get likes, glued to my phone to see who's feeding my habit, and feeling that rush, or conversely having a down day if I'm not getting the expected attention. It is a bad habit, my justification that it is for work and is business-related rather than personal is a bit of a stretch sometimes.
It is allowable though, I think, to use social media to reinforce the positives in our lives. After all, many of us live quite isolated lives without the benefits of role models and close family around us, life is often lived at a remove from human flesh and blood contact these days. We frequently no longer have communities in our locality for social interaction, whether we live in the suburb of a big city or, as I do, in an isolated rural part of France. Close-knit familial and neighbourly groups are often a thing of the past. My family is scattered across Europe and without facebook I'd have no idea of what is going on in their lives. Friends from my past life in the UK who are not on facebook have fallen by the wayside somewhat. Instead, I've built a network of really good facebook and instagram friends, many but not all of whom I've met in person, but whose input I find incredibly valuable and whose friendship I value just as much as the 'real' friends in my life.
Once we've left school and college, it's a fact of life that friendships are harder to initiate and maintain. Workplace colleagues are another source of friends but those of us who work from home or are self employed or home-makers don't have access to these relationships. Modern life is tough and social media is really essential to help prevent us becoming hermits! Although I'm eternally grateful that I grew up in the pre-facebook era, now I'm embracing it and making it work for me. I hope that this is your take on it too.