The New Yorker recently published an article about #vanlife and the phenomenon of heavily curated lifestyles as depicted on social media. Naturally, I found it intriguing (not just because my mother always accused me of being a hippie) and posted a comment basically saying that I too would receive many likes and comments if I showed some side boob of myself in line at the food pantry.
It really got me thinking, could I conceivably make my and Shadow's life look perfectly peaceful, beautiful and fulfilling even though we're in the system?
I believe the answer to be yes.
First of all, the couple in the article admitted that it takes many shots to get the perfect pic and that the ones which receive the most attention on their accounts feature a semi clad girlfriend basking in the sun on some pristine California beach.
Second, it's just a snippet of their life, they're not going to discuss the tire changes, insurance issues or the crime against the American road trip that are gas prices. You as the viewer only see the lovely, the rainbow at the end of the storm, hell, the storm itself can be shot to be a beautiful thing lending much needed water to drought stricken Cali.
There is a formula to these things.
If I had a professional camera, or even an iPhone like I used to, I could get some very nice shots. You know, totally glamorize seeing the social worker, or using my WIC checks to purchase Greek Yogurt and brown rice. No one would ever see me struggling to do my day to day tasks as I suffer with very severe psoriatic arthritis, unless of course I gave a thumbs up and captioned it, "doing better today, I thank God everyday that He is watching over me and keeping me going."
See what I did there?
People eat that shit up. And I don't know why. Today on Fox 5, they ran a short bit about how Facebook and social media is making people depressed.
Well no shit it is, everyone posts their perfect lives, their beautiful kids who never have temper tantrums and their McMansion house that is always clean and well organized. They're putting more energy into looking perfect than they are actually living. But because no one is complaining about their broken dishwasher or their husband who favors his daughter over his gay son, the general viewing public only sees happy healthy families with good Christian values.
How would they view a Neo-Pagan family with two disabled parents and their adorable son and daughter. I mean, just look at how fucking adorable my daughter is:
She's so happy in her new dress that I hand knit for her despite the painful arthritis in my hands. I'm so thankful to God for the green grass and trees and the roof we have over our heads.
It just eats at your heart strings don't it?
The point I'm trying to make is that it's all bullshit. Yes, you can work hard for a good life, or be lucky and be given one, but for the most part there are ups and downs, sickness and turmoil, all that shit some of you vowed during your weddings, life is not a piece of organic vanilla bean buttercream frosted cake!
However... and this is the evil, sinister Spiral speaking here, you can make other people's lives miserable by making your own seem perfect.
Let's go back to my WIC checks. There are many middle class families that can't afford to buy their kids Chobani yogurt when Dannon or Yoplait is on sale 10 for 10 at Stop and Shop. If I posted a "WIC Haul" on a given platform, it could potentially make people angry that their tax dollars are going to feed my daughter expensive yogurt while I sit on my ass and allegedly recover from a terrible inflammatory illness. Others may comment things like, "thank God you and your family have a place to live", or "I'm wishing you so much good health as you fight this painful disease".
It seems to me, that there is no in-between. There is no, "here is my mediocre life, it's just like yours but you refuse to see it."
Some people are sadists and thrive on other people's misery. Is that the key to creating one's brand? Being just enough of a sociopath to say, "oh man this is totally going to rip them a new one when they see my girl's new ride" or the free swag we got as endorsements or whatever the kids are saying and getting these days.
As a social experiment I would love to just sit back and see what happens. Create the hashtag #shelterlife and watch the chaos unfold.
Would this give me more or less credit as a Wiccan mom, would it elevate me to some wonderful social media deity status?
It would just be interesting to see, purely because it's absolutely ridiculous. No one should be glamorizing life in an NYC shelter.
But, I could.