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Thursday, September 17, 2015

I hear you Barbie, but still...

Is anyone else in love with Socality Barbie? As a travel & expat blogger (especially from the Pacific Northwest), I think I am supposed to find Barbie's satire offensive and untrue, but I don't. I really, really don't. While I know Barbie is first and foremost mocking Instagram posters, there is a fair bit of poking fun at people like me-- travel bloggers.

Phrases like "life of adventure" and "never stop exploring" and "lets go somewhere" and "get outside" and "explore everything" are certainly mocked because let's face it, despite what people advertise on any platform of social media, this just isn't real life-- and the thing Barbie mocks most? The idea that people are also using the word "authentic" in relation to such phrases or making viewers feel inadequate because their lives don't match the adventurous, picture perfect ones on Instagram or other social media platforms.

Fact: I love to write posts and share photos of our pretty awesome adventures in Taiwan and around the world.

Another fact: I also try to balance the illusion of our Perfect Expatriate Lifestyle with my reality of being a full time employed expat who sometimes likes to spend entire weekends in dirty pajamas hiding from the world, or who has to sometimes spend entire weeks doing nothing but work-work-work because the end of a quarter is around the corner.

For the sake of full disclosure, I am not a "popular" travel blogger or digital nomad who is glued to every kind of social media in an effort to self promote. In fact, that iPhone that I just bought? I cannot wait to get rid of it and am about to pass it off to a friend.  Frankly, in terms of blogging, I am a nobody. Still, I know that my little travel blog is sometimes one dimensional and sometimes reads like my life is all butterflies and rainbows, and sometimes I know it stirs in my readers the green eyed monster. I know this because they tell me so, and usually the people who tell me so are very real people in my life who matter a lot to me.

"You're so lucky!"
"I'm so jealous."
"I wish..."
It's a hard act to balance. Is my life filled with more exotic adventures and globetrots than my friends and family back home? Maybe? Probably, even. Does that mean that every day I am out there on an #adventure or seeking to #finditliveit while #exploring???


Ninety percent of the time, I am a sweaty mess running from one classroom to another teaching 8th and 9th grade. Or sitting on my couch in my PJs reading. Or tearing out my hair grading essay 50 with 10 more still to go, but I don't blog about those times, and I don't want to. If my readers are silly enough to believe that my life is that one dimensional and perfect, well, I think that's on them, not on me.

And that's true of all social media users, I think because all kinds of social media can cause envy.

Sometimes it's from Facebook. Those pictures you just posted of your perfect twin babies? Yeah, that made me feel jealous. That Instagram photo you just posted of your impromptu adventure while everyone else was at work? Yeah, that made me jealous too. That tweet that you just closed on that beautiful two-story home? Jealousy, table for one. That blog post about your perfect trip sailing the Greek islands? Watch out! The green eyed monster is here!

What I am saying is that the grass can always look greener on the other side, but at the end of the day, I am really thankful I am not a sleep deprived new mother, and I am proud that I have a job I care about and am fully supporting my own existence, and I am relieved and ecstatic that I am not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and I am glad I am in Taiwan; I like it here, and I don't really wish to be somewhere else, so while Barbie totally has a point about social media posters, I think some eye rolling should also be directed at social media users who let themselves be fooled.

Who controls what you look at online? You. That's who. And I am not gonna lie; I actively avoid certain people online because I know the end result. Their seemingly carefree and unemployed existence or perfectly staged photos or insanely well funded lifestyle makes me question the wonderfulness of my own life, and it's my choice to play that game, so I just don't.  

It's as easy as that, and that is your choice too, so Barbie, I hear you, but still, let's get real: if you don't want it in your life, stop tuning into it!

Add your comment

  1. You are right on! We control what we take in. Great post!

    1. Thanks. I know it is sometimes easier said than done, but it is still the truth nonetheless.

  2. My friend once wrote on facebook 'People take 100 selfies and post the best one, but I know what the other 99 look like because that is the version I see before me every day. People, you are not fooling anyone but yourselves.' I think it is so true! People can paint whatever picture they want of themselves on social media. It is up to us to filter and like another commenter said 'control what we take in.'

    P.S. Hope you are enjoying the ever so slightest drop in Taiwan temps.

  3. I think the authenticity of your blog would be improved by the addition of photos from Little Ding-Dong. Just sayin'.

  4. This is so true! I'm what a lot of people would call a "digital nomad" (in that I travel a lot, and work while I do it), and if I see a particularly pretty beach, or mountain range, or - yes - sunset, then I'll want to post a picture of it to share with my friends. I *could* also post the dingy motel rooms, the bleary-eyed early rises, the things that go horribly wrong, but I don't. And that's largely because I use my social media as a personal diary too, and I'd rather be positive: look back and remember that amazing night running with fire devils in Barcelona, and not the creepy Spanish guy who followed me down the street.

    I think it's part of the normal human experience to want to tell other people the best bits of our lives, to share our positivity. And I agree with what other commenters have said, that it's up to us as readers (or Instagram-lookers?) to remember that life isn't all roses and sunsets.

    Great blog, by the way! :)

    1. Thanks! :)

      My blog is also like a journal, which is why I don't have any desire to blog about the essays I grade or work. I would rather write about special things and things that matter to me personally.

  5. Great post! I'm obsessed with hipster barbie think it's so refreshing to finally see that not everything you look at online is as it appears. A whole lotta filters and photoshopping going on for some people! Let's not try to out cool the next person and feel like you're life doesn't match up. X

    1. I think the most important part is just realizing that it is silly to compare any aspect of your life to an image you see online. An image is nothing more than a moment in time, and I would be hard pressed to believe that it could tell the whole story, even if it wanted to.

  6. I really like the way you phrased all this, I couldn't agree more. I've never had a problem talking about the rubbish parts of life, living abroad and travel, but at the same time, I love nice photos - with instagram in mind, I tend to post the photos I like and then I'm honest in the descriptions about life. To me, that's a nice balance. Twitter, urgh, I kind of hate it, it's like a giant one-up party on there, I admit I'm more about the odd bit of promo for my blog there.

    Blog wise, anything and everything is good for me, in writing, again, I just like nice photos :)

    I'm not sure if my comment really actually said anything now haha

    1. Hahaha! I think you did!! At first, I was really confused about social media beyond blogging and FB because it all seemed like one big high school popularity contest. To me, the soundtrack seemed to be: "Look at me! Notice me!" While I have not made real, genuine friendships over social media, I have certainly made useful contacts, especially in regards to networking with other international school teachers. So, I guess we are all using it for different reasons, and that's fine. I definitely have friends who do the whole staged social media thing, and getting to see the behind-the-scenes of it all just makes Socality Barbie that much more amusing!