So where should we draw the line, do you think, on what we share and what we keep private? To answer my own question, I guess our own need for privacy and our own level of comfort in talking about ourselves will dictate where we draw that line. As well as our sense of good taste, and maybe even our knowledge that whatever we say on-line is very difficult to take back or erase. We are the curators of our own public image. Whether that image is shared with a few friends and family, or made public on the world wide web.
And I've been thinking that despite the fact that social media is relatively new, the idea of choosing what we share with the world is not. Haven't we always chosen what we share of ourselves and our lives with others? Haven't our lives always been "curated?" Whether it's the photos we have in our wedding album, the details on our work resumé, or the difference between what we tell our co-workers about our vacation versus what we tell our best friend.
|My cousin Mark and me after my brother Terry's funeral in September.|
For example, this photo of my cousin Mark and me was taken after my brother Terry's funeral in September. I love this picture. We were so happy to see each other; it had been years and years. This shot, plus one of my sisters and me together for the first time in ages, and one of my niece Carly looking sweet in her dress and high heels, these are the shots I've kept of that day. They make me smile. Doesn't mean it wasn't a sad and upsetting day. It was. But I'm choosing the moments I want to remember visually. Curating, in a way.
Similarly, Hubby and I took some wonderful pictures of our South America trip. Some we deleted. The best ones I shared on Instagram and Facebook, or in my blog posts. I do not, however, have any photos to share of our panic when we were trapped in the hotel courtyard in Salta. Nor of the meltdown I had in the shower one night in Peru. And I have neither a written nor a pictorial record of the weirdly huge insect bites that appeared on my leg and elsewhere, and which necessitated a trip to the hospital emergency ward in El Calafate, Argentina for diagnosis and treatment. So, you could say I'm carefully curating our trip by choosing what to take photos of, which photos to share, what events to share in words, and what to shut up about. Ha. Until now.
|Hiking in Patagonia. Somewhere on this day long hike I was bitten and did not react well. Not at all. Ouch.|
I've been thinking about all this for the past few days, ever since someone commented to me that my Facebook page was "business as usual" when I came home from England, when clearly life was not business as usual for me. I thought that was interesting. No, life was not business as usual for me then. It was a bit difficult, actually. And I chose not to show visual reflections of that difficulty on either FB or IG. If you look at my social media accounts, you'll see happy travel pics, old family photos, pictures of the ski trail or sunset walks, and lots and lots of outfits. Obviously these shots are chosen, curated if you will, to reveal as much as I want to reveal and no more.
I do, however, write in more detail about events in my life on this blog. I write about myself, and also for myself. So in May, amidst the posts on hair troubles and books, I talked of my brother's ongoing illness. And in September I wrote about his death. And I mused about the nature of family in a post a week or so after his funeral, while I was planning and packing for England. And that was enough, I thought. Doesn't mean I wasn't still struggling, or that I wasn't thinking of him, and of my family. Just that I was done talking about it publicly. Well, except for the angel reference in my Christmas tree post.
Let's pause for a minute, here, to talk a bit about that Christmas post. Mum and I laughing about the last scene of It's a Wonderful Life, where Clarence gets his wings. It was fond laughter born of a shared knowledge of that old movie. Triggered by the ringing of Mum's doorbell and there being no one there, by Mum's comment that it was "probably Terry getting his wings," and, of course, by our shared knowledge of my brother. Because if you read between the lines of my post when he died, you'll know that in his youth he was no angel. Bit of a hellion, actually.
And just because my mum and I laughed that day doesn't mean we weren't missing him. That's how most people roll, I think. We're all showing only a part of ourselves on the outside. You have to look carefully and closely, and listen attentively, to understand what lies beneath. And I don't think that's much different than it ever was. Our outer lives have always been carefully curated to show only part of our inner one. The advent of social media simply means the possibility of many more people seeing that part which you choose to share with the world.
So on my Facebook page and on my Instagram account, and even to a lesser extent on this blog, it was business as usual. Carefully curated business as usual. Christmas trees, shopping stories, books. But if you read carefully, sometimes between the lines, sometimes only in the hashtags, you can see what's going on underneath.
You know, I'm pretty comfortable talking about myself publicly. Comes from all those years of standing in front of a class. I used to tell my students stories of growing up on the farm in New Brunswick, of Hubby's and my fishing adventures, about my grandmother, or my cat... whatever was relevant to the lesson and sometimes what was not relevant at all. But just as my stories were about me, they were not all of me. There was always a barrier, a line that I would not cross. Despite being very comfortable with the kids, I was always aware of the need for a certain amount of distance between student and teacher.
And it's the same with social media. There is a line over which I do not venture. I choose to share only what I feel comfortable sharing.
Sometimes I think that social media gets a bad rap. Oh sure, sometimes it drives me up the wall... cat and dog videos, pithy aphorisms, you know. But if we use it judiciously, and learn how to use it wisely... that's why we teach kids about media in school, after all. If we recognize that others are curating their public persona as well. Then, it becomes just a way to connect with a larger world, and even to build community, like through this blog. And it can be fun, and... it's certainly a great way to get outfit ideas.
But as usual, I'm just thinking out loud here ... or in print.
And sharing it with you guys... and the world. Ha.
P.S. I'm pretty sure I'm not saying anything new or earth shattering in this post. Just in case you read this and thought, "Well, d'uh." It's just what's been on my mind lately.
So if you have anything on your mind, friends... well, it's your turn.