I have an auntie who is awesome and brilliantly ginger and awesome twenty times over and way too young to be referring to as my auntie. And she raised a point the other day on a ‘popular social media website’ and it got me thinking and made me angry and she is so right.
Now, I *may* have previously described this as ‘hipster-fonted photo-vom’. And I refer to the endless, incessant, sickeningly smug stream of ‘inspirational’ quotes plastered all over home-tat like pillows, pictures, mugs, cushions, t-shirts, keyrings…and found polluting my eyesight one after the other on social media feeds, in a blur of instagram filtered, pastel coloured emissions.
I read something telling me to love my life and I feel shit. I imagine a flower-fairy, bed-haired, sylph-like figure, perfect white teeth, scented with beach breeze and the laughter of golden beings, filled with sunshine and sparkles, a thousand filtered friends, gathered round a campfire, flitting from fun-filled day to fun-filled day without a care in the world. I read the quote and this image fills my mind and I look at myself and oh my goodness. The instaquote is to a healthy mind what Vogue is to body image.
How dare they tell me that it’s so easy to switch on the happiness? That by reading 3 lines of misquoted psychobollocks that my eyes will suddenly open and my life will be filled with daisies and sunshine? It fuels the endless comparison that social media is built on, the aspiration and depression, the need and the want, the should and haven’t.
The creators of instaquotes dare to assume I’m not perfect. They dare to assume I can change at the flick of a switch. They dare to assume I’m fragile and broken and stuck and want a ‘normal’ life that they have created in their mind for me to aspire to. They need me to be needy. They want me to be wanting. They believe that I don’t believe in myself, that I need this beige life with a partner, with a chocolate box house, with the sort of outdoor adventures that don’t include spiders, insect bites or terrible sunburn. They want me to think I need to be better than I am. They want me to think I’m currently mostly shit at being a human. That I’m wasting my one chance at life, and I’d better change it quick sharp, because soon I’ll be dead, man.
Everyone is different. We know our own happiness, whether it’s under a duvet with a book, on a pristine snowy mountain range, trekking through a muddy field, spending in a shopping centre, talking, silence, partying. We can make our own inspiration but hell, we should not even consider entertaining anybody else’s. Especially in helvetica neue.
I find my inspiration in people around me, the books I read, the beautiful natural world, the universe, in science, in wonder, in conversations and action and friends and family. I’m inspired by constant learning, by the strength and actions and love of people. By the world as a whole.
I love my life because of all the different elements within and around. I love my life because I’m amazed by all life. I love my life because I know that what’s normal for society doesn’t have to be normal for an individual. And that includes the ‘click to like’ throwaway culture that is sadly pervading our news feeds.
And to finish, here’s my favourites, literally ‘thrown up’ from a quick google search.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” ( background=fade black to grey)
“Don’t lose hope: when the sun goes down, the stars come out” (background=trees with stars above, of course)
“The only person you should try to be is better than the person you were yesterday” (background=trees at sunset)
And the ultimately hideous
“Remind yourself that it is okay not to be perfect” (background=crumpled up paper)
Please feel free to share any other particularly vom-inducing examples too.
Take them with a pinch of salt. Or even better, in the words of a certain family member, “swallow one a day with gin”. Bottoms up.