I Reject You, Higher Standards

4 years ago

Today I read a really interesting post by a blogger with spina bifida regarding what she shares or doesn't share on Facebook. She said people often tell her they wish they had her life because of what she shares on Facebook, but there is so much she doesn't share about her disease. She writes:

Because, God forbid I should choose the joyful family Christmas dinner in Puerto Rico as the venue for disclosing how I’ve totally slacked off on my neurosurgery stuff and am now desperate to schedule a follow-up with my neuro to find out the results of my MRI, which I had done before the holidays.

That got me to thinking about what I share, but more importantly, what I see other people sharing. This morning I got onto Facebook to check notifications. I almost never read my feed, because I feel like if I respond to one person's post that doesn't specifically name-check me then someone else might think I should respond to theirs. Of course, this is extremely self-centered of me to think people will care what I do or don't "like," but I don't think I would know when to stop. I don't *want* to spend hours on Facebook every day, and I don't want to worry about whether or not someone liked my profile picture change or what have you. In that way, Facebook is too transparent for me. I don't know who reads my blog from day to day, and I really prefer it that way. I don't want to wonder if I offended you or you've just been trapped under three feet of snow trying to get through the day for the last week.

Today, though, I read my feed for about five minutes and immediately was happy and sad for people (some of whom I barely know) and felt like I should say all the right things and click the appropriate emotion buttons and I got totally overwhelmed and just shut down the tab, pretending like I'd never opened it.

Credit Image: Shards of Blue on Flickr

We share so much information now, and it's overwhelming to me. I've been thinking about why for several years now, and it's finally occurred to me it's because I get the news when I don't have time to process it. If I go to lunch with a friend and she tells me her dog died or she's been diagnosed with cancer or she's just in a slump, I'm already there, focused on her, with time set aside already in my schedule to talk. When I hear news, good or bad, I really want to respond immediately. I'm an extrovert and I really love being with other people. So when there is so much in the feed that there is no way on earth I'll ever be able to keep up, it actually makes my stomach hurt. Thus I avoid Facebook, only checking in every day or every other day to see if there's anything specifically directed at me, because I also have a fear of ignoring someone without giving them a reason why. Even then I find I've ignored invites to events or what have you because Facebook is the only place they were announced.

But that's not all of it. Not really.

I was immediately relieved when I closed the tab, because I noticed that in the five minutes I'd been reading, not only did I feel sad and happy, I felt jealous of some of the announcements and photos I saw, even though I know damn well we all edit the selves we present in social media and because of it, the standards for what our houses should look like or the presentation of our home-cooked dinners or the outfit we wear to Target go up and up and up. The standards I once thought applied only to the landed gentry suddenly feel like they're applying to me sitting here in my home office in suburban Kansas City with plans only to buy my daughter a new pair of tennies and maybe hit a family-friendly pizza place on the way home tonight. I used to feel really proud of myself for baking anything and this morning I felt guilty for making my daughter a Valentine's Day breakfast of chocolate chip muffins because it was a mix and I didn't put them on a cute plate and the muffin liner thingies had Christmas trees on them.

My fucking muffin liners aren't even good enough.

I blame Facebook and Pinterest. I really do. The television was always there. The catalogs were always there. The magazines, same thing. I didn't know if my friends were watching or reading those things, and if they dressed better than I do or cooked beautiful meals, I chalked it up to personal taste or income levels or interest differences. Now because I see everybody doing those things, I feel like it's the new norm.

Are seasonal wreaths really the new norm? Why does everyone have such cute boots? When did I get left behind?

Is it okay I don't care about a lot of those things? I mean, I care a little, but well, I still go to the grocery store in yoga pants and a hat All.The.Time. My cooking has improved dramatically since we started eating in as much as possible, but I'm really proud of myself just for using fresh vegetables instead of canned or frozen or God forbid insta-mealed. It doesn't have to look pretty, too.

I reject you, higher standards! I want to feel good about my not-matching wood and my non-mermaid hair. I want to feel like what I surround myself with can be just functional sometimes and doesn't have to also be gorgeous and flawlessly maintained. I have no servants who live downstairs, and I'm TIRED.

I want to be good enough.

Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel The Obvious Game & the deputy editor of BlogHer.com. Find more at www.ritaarens.com.

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