However, I think one of the reasons I am relaxed is my insane ability to tune out the noise, a quality which will irritate people who try to get my attention when I’m in the zone. I attribute this to the countless cocktail parties I attended as a young child. Apparently, I’m not the only only child to experience this (see #1).
An example. One time, I was working on a project in my cubicle, which was surrounded by people making phone calls, having inner-office chats, phones ringing, and people scurrying from place to place. I was at my desk, tuning out all of this noise, which I can only compare to wearing moderately effective earplugs. It’s like I hear it but it’s muffled so I can ignore it and focus on the task at hand, which at this particular moment, was something on my computer. There were about five people frantically looking for something, and as I came out of my cloud, I put the muffled pieces of conversation that I heard together and realized that I had the key they were looking for… 30 minutes later.
It’s a strange ability, I know.
As a mom with a newborn, this works to my advantage because a crying baby rarely fazes me. I can change a diaper with loud wails emitting from her teeny tiny mouth and I just focus on the task at hand. (Then promptly give her what she wants: my milker. An instantaneous end to the tears.)
As I celebrate our ten year anniversary (today!), I realize how much more noise has been introduced to our lives in the past decade. Social media was non existent the day we were married. We didn’t check Facebook on our honeymoon or post newlywed photos on Instagram. We weren’t distracted by smart phones and real-time experience sharing. I think we emailed a Shutterfly album to friends and family to share photos.
Now, we’re surrounded by so much noise it’s often hard to focus on the task at hand. I can tune out sounds – but how do we tune out the digital noise?
I’ll just go ahead and tell you that I don’t have the answer. I do think mindlessly scrolling through social media accounts is addictive. It becomes a habit, almost a tick. If there is a lapse in which our attention has no focus, we immediately pull out our iPhones. I love the concept of The Handsfree Mama but I have yet to adhere to her principles.
Last night, I was talking to my three month old, who was telling me all about her day, which was full of goooooo and ahhhhhh and pbfpbfpbf – all fascinating details, I assure you – and I wanted a video to capture the moment. I’ll be damned if she didn’t clam up as soon as she saw it, so the videos I captured are her staring silently into the camera with a confused look on her face. And it’s no wonder – my smiling face was replaced with a curious box. Why would she talk to the box? So I put down the phone, and we continued our conversation and the only record I have of it is stored in my actual memory, the cloud that is my brain.
Do we need to record every little thing? When am I going to scroll through the thousands of RAW images I refuse to delete from my hard drive? Future me, am I going to look back at the ones that I edited and shared online (or my favorite service, ThisLife) or am I going to want to look at the original files and re-edit them? I’ll tell you the answer: I won’t. Editing is time consuming. I’ll enjoy the photos I selected as my favorites. There is so much data that we record, edit, store, share.
Which brings me to the next question: why do we all feel compelled to share? I think there are many reasons: seeking validation, bragging, documenting, wanting to stay in touch with friends from long distances… It has created the issue of comparison, especially with professional bloggers and instagrammers making life look lovely and curated and clutter-free online. I think none of our lives look like our Pinterest boards and we should not feel guilty about it.
But we do. I suppose every mom has some slight variation of guilt that she’s not as fit, not as clever, not as crafty, not as clean, not as organic, should follow that top ten list of daily ways to keep your house clutter-free… the noise we’re bombarded with on a daily basis amounts to an insurmountable list of not-good-enoughs and it becomes really difficult to focus on the realistic future.
Can we muffle the noise? Can we go back to the time when we didn’t spend our time scrolling though images of perfectly decorated homes not littered with toys, half-full (or half-empty) glasses of milk, or stacks of mail, instigating feelings of inadequacy that our homes aren’t as perfect? How about motherhood and the healthy Bento box lunches and the educational craft sessions? I don’t do those things. Are my children going to be less enriched as a result of my craft deficiencies?
My husband likes to remind me that “we don’t live in a show house” and that no one’s house looks like they do in a magazine. And I know he’s right.
Being a blogger, there is something I’ve recognized to be true that helps me clear the noise: all of that content, that curated, pretty content is all part of a game to generate more views to a website which translates into income – either through ad clicks, sponsorships, or affiliate sales. It’s edited, styled and unrealistic. (Proof.)
We share the edited photos because they look better. More polished. Visually appealing. The raw files aren’t glossy enough to share.
Social media is a stream of everyone’s edited files. The mess is cropped out. The raw files are kept on a hard drive, away from public view.
I do believe that we should only share the edited files. Social media lives online forever. We are creating an online identity by what we share, and it should be positive. Share the happiness – reserve the raw emotion for real life conversations. There is a place and time for offline living.
I do have a point, and here it is: I think to ignore the noise, understanding the difference between real and shareable is essential. The secret is knowing how unrealistic the shareable content is. Shareable is carefully constructed, edited and thoughtfully posted.
Real is amid the clutter, the conversation babble, and non-food-styled dinner plates. To really tune out the noise, we’re just going to have be selective about the moments we choose to capture and share, and we need to view others’ shareable moments with the knowledge that they are just edited snapshots and not the whole picture.