Friday, 16 March 2012

What your Facebook says about you

Facebook is (weirdly, given it’s a public forum) quite a private part of my life. I don’t really want random people knowing what my kids look like or hearing that I’ve had a bad day. But Facebook is dangerous. It seems to have the biggest capacity for oversharing, over and above all other mediums. Most of us are occasional Facebook over sharers; from the gross “Check out my birthing pix, here’s Fleur crowning!!!”, boring child related info: “Agamemnon put on his own socks for the first time today, they grow up so fast” through to the downright too personal: “Period from hell L

So, given my penchant for the occasional overshare I am really, really strict about who I add to my Facebook friends list. But I have let a few slip under the net in recent weeks so it was time to do a bit of housekeeping; update my job title to make it seem more corporate, untag hideous pictures of myself etc. It’s the virtual equivalent of tidying your house before someone new comes round for the first time. You really don’t want new friends to know that you have a stack of used toilet rolls in your bathroom and that you rarely change your bed sheets.

But should I really be editing my life like this? A new disorder called Facebook Depression, caused by the overwhelming envy felt when witnessing the glamour and excitement of other people’s lives as portrayed over Facebook, has surfaced. And I can see why. There is always an element of jealousy when someone posts pictures from their once in a lifetime holiday to the Maldives whilst you are cutting your toenails in front of Take Me Out. Every “ding” of a clipping in that ashtray represents another tanned, smiling photo popping up to remind you that your life just isn’t as fabulous.

But the beauty of Facebook is that we all have the option to make our lives seem as brilliant as we like. Sometimes a well meaning friend might post a less than flattering photograph, in which case the untagging button comes in handy. I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I untag myself from pictures where my burger head (to clarify: that’s when your head looks as wide as it is tall) or ham arms (to clarify: that’s when the tops of your arms look like those big bits of ham hanging in Spanish supermarkets) seem like the focus of the picture.

But if I am untagging photos of my burger head I can’t be so naive as to think that these people who are showing off their tropical tans, looking stunning in their drunken photos and constantly “checking in” at brilliant bars are not also doing a little bit of censorship of their own. I mean come on, we all have some skeletons in our cupboards.

Facebook has become both a blessing and a curse. As if we really need anything else to sap the few hours in every day, we now spend half our time trawling through pictures of other peoples new babies, finding out (whether you like it or not) that your friend has reached the dizzying heights of level 263 on Diamond Dash and there’s yet another competition from that random company that you only clicked like to because you mistakenly believed you might get some free stuff. And yes, I want to see who last looked at my profile, oh whoops that’s spam, now everyone can see that I wanted to know who was looking at me. Busted. But now it’s getting serious, we are paying for it with our mental health.

And now we’ve got the timeline (which I hated at first but now I kind of like), we all have even more of an opportunity to customise our page and make it our own. We can change the design of it and generally make our Facebook profile seem a little more special. But the reality is that the timeline feature is nothing more than a school uniform, everyone has to wear it so we all try to make it our own by hitching up our skirts, grafittiing our ties or wearing our jumpers round our waists but whatever we do with it, it’s still a school uniform.

We all want our Facebook page to seem like the cool place to hang out, and therefore there has to be an element of control over what people see. We want people to think our lives naturally fell into this pattern of uber coolness, with no censorship or life butchery on our parts.

But if the truth be known, Facebook tells very little about the real person behind it, because it’s all edited, highlighted and created about the you you want to show the world. They say never believe everything you read, and Facebook is no exception. So don’t fall prey to Facebook Depression. The truth is everyone has toenail clippings, and whether the ashtray you are putting them in is in Thailand or Telford, they all smell like cheese.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Retro Repost - My Goldfish Theory of Time Management

It's Manic Monday, and my new job started today. Son number two started at the childminder (and managed to not attack anyone while there), the son is shining and all is right with the world. Except that I didn't manage to write a new blog post. Therefore I am reposting this entry, written nearly a year ago. So much has changed in my life, yet so much stays the same. This post it is quite apt for how I have felt today, I just wish I had a little more time in my tank to write a new post. Enjoy.

My Goldfish Theory of Time Management

We all have the same number of hours in a day. The same number of minutes, the same number of seconds. So why is it that some people manage to do so much with those hours and others very little?

"I don't have enough time." "I'm too busy." I have said these things so many times. As a stay a home mum I always feel that I never have enough time. I don't have a very tidy house (and if I'm honest, it's not very clean either), I don't iron anything yet somehow I always feel that I am rushed off my feet and never have enough time to do anything.

My dad once asked me "but what do you DO all day?" I was so affronted by this. I felt he was insinuating that I spent all day watching Jeremy Kyle, while feeding my kids turkey twizzlers in their pyjamas. As anyone who has stayed at home looking after kids for very long knows, it's a busy job. Shitty nappies, trying not to get buried under a deluge of toys and mess, more shitty nappies, dealing with rowing children, dealing with accident prone children, trying to keep them fed and watered and semi clean, trying to keep yourself fed and watered and semi clean, not to mention doctors appointments, sickness and keeping up to date with their social calendar... it's pretty much non stop. There's a reason why you have to pay someone a full time wage to look after your kids full time. It would have been more apt to ask me that question after graduating university, when I spent endless months, literally, doing nothing. What did I do all day then? I've got no idea. Watching a lot of Jeremy Kyle probably.

So how come, when I have spent years using the "too busy" excuse for not writing, I have found an hour or two a day, to do it? Maybe some of my other jobs are suffering. The house gets more messy but I usually find time to tidy it up at the end of the day, and if I don't it's not a problem. And I no longer spend two hours a day cooking a meal for children who then refuse to eat it and demand pizza and chicken nuggets, at least 3 times a week they get their pizza and chicken nuggets, saving me 6 hours a week of futile cooking.

I've got a friend who wakes at ridiculous o'clock in the morning, gets herself and her little boy ready for the day (by herself) then works a full time (very stressful) job, picks up her son from nursery, spends at least an hour of quality time with him (I'm with my kids all day and I am embarrassed to say they probably don't get that much quality time from me), before working all evening, sometimes until midnight, before bed and waking up at 6am to do it all again the next day. And her house is spotless. Spotless, I tell you. And she still finds time to have a laugh with her mates, read, watch telly, iron. She has the same number of hours as me, yet she does everything that I do and so much more! How on earth does she do it?

I have a theory. There is a common belief (apparently not true but it works as a metaphor here so bare with me) that goldfish only grow to the size of their tank. I think the same is true of time. If you have lots of time on your hands, maybe cleaning the bathroom might take an hour or two, if you have very little, frankly you can do it in less than fifteen minutes. My bathroom may not be as spotless now that I spend only fifteen minutes on it, but you wouldn't notice the difference, and having a tidy bathroom really isn't that important to me.

I love organisation and time management. You give me a way to find an extra hour in the day and I'll try it. But it's like stroking a cat the wrong way for me because it's does not come naturally. My messy house, and childhood messy bedroom, is an outward manifestation of a messy brain. But being organised gives me more time. If I don't do a weekly meal plan for instance, I end up in the supermarket every day buying all kinds of things we don't need, and if I don't get my work out in before taking my son to preschool, I won't fit it in later in the day.

The man works 6 days a week, and long hours at that. Yet in the last 2 weeks he has found time to build me 5 raised beds for my veggies, taken down and re-sited our garden shed, build 5 concrete steps and gravel our driveway. I've hardly seen him, but this is all stuff he has wanted to do, not just to save us money (which I am eternally grateful for of course, thanks babe) but also because he enjoys doing it. We make time for the things that are important to us, and if we don’t make the time, maybe it wasn’t that important to us in the first place.

We all have the same number of hours in a day. I am busy. I don’t have enough time. But with a little organisation, and focussing on what's important to me, I'm finding some space in my tank I didn't know I had.