Monday, December 9, 2013

Do Blogs Make You Feel Bad?

I was talking to some friends the other day about the state of the blogosphere. You know how people always blamed beauty magazines for causing women to have low self-esteem? Well, I suppose you already know that blogs can do the same thing pretty easily, causing us to covet each others' "enviable" lives, homes, wardrobes, etc. because they're all so perfectly photographed and shiny.  People don't often share online that they're deeply unhappy, or deeply in debt, or any of the things that make a life real. And I got to thinking about whether or not I contribute to this problem, either with the things I say, or worse, with the things I don't say.

(I mean, OBVIOUSLY you all have LOTS to be jealous of here. Like my incredible baking skills. And my ability to keep my plants alive. And how cute my cat is. Okay, that last one is true.)

"Bully to you if you don't think I'm cute!"

I like my life, but I don't ever want the way I live to make anyone feel worse about themselves. So I started to ask myself: am I my most authentic self online? Am I leading an authentic life offline? And what is the extent to which we're allowed to be "fake"?

A few months ago I had actually fixed my hair and gone to some event, and I've now forgotten what it was. I felt cute. I got home at the end of the day, and as I was washing my hands, I looked in the mirror and ... WHAT THE HELL? I came racing out of the bathroom and into the living room, where Matt was working on his laptop. "IS THIS A GRAY HAIR????????"

"Well, it's certainly not the same color as all the rest of them," he said. He doesn't think gray hairs are that big a deal, as long as no one is telling him how many of them he already has. (Grad school will do that to ya.)

So is it inauthentic or fake, at age 26, to not want others to know that I have gray hairs, and to hide that part of myself? To think maybe it's time to dye it a new color again just so I don't have to worry about a tiny platinum shimmer when I pull my hair up? Does it make someone else — maybe also my age, who also has a gray hair or two — feel bad about themselves because no one else seems to have a problem like theirs? And is this limited to internet life, or does it extend to real life too?

Is it enough to share my flaws and mistakes once in a while, while continuing to share the things that I'm pleased or excited by? Is it always inauthentic to hold back truth?

I will never pretend to be perfect, but I'm simultaneously unwilling to lay my entire life bare just to prove that I am what I say I am. I try to be honest with myself, and with you, because it doesn't make any sense to me to be something I'm not. I'm not interested in make-believe.

Reality, with all its dents and flaws and broken cakes, makes for much better stories.

What do you think? Do blogs make you feel jealous of what others have? How do you strive for balance?


  1. Blogs have never made me feel jealous or want someone else's type of life. I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised; I am blissfully happy about the life I have, and I guess I kind of assume other people are too, though I am realizing that more often, that's not actually the case. I think that's sad. I hope that with my blog I do a good job of portraying authentically a non-glamorous life that I am very happy with. I hope, but it's really hard to know how you come across to others.
    And, by the way, Angel has 56 gray hairs and he's 29.

  2. Personally, I find more inspiration in the content on other blogs. I don't usually get envious of someone else's clothing, house, or baby. However, as a blogger I do compare my blog to other blogs if that makes sense. And I agree, minor flaws and bumps in life are SO much more interesting to read than picture perfect lives!

  3. so much truth and insight in this post. i think it's important to strike a balance -- there are some things that we wouldn't share with strangers, and so might keep private on blogs, but on the other, i think it's important to recognize that all of us have our ups and downs. and, by the way, i'm 26 too (eeeek.. that's a lie, 27 - i forget!) but if i got a grey hair, i would grab some dye right away :) but then again, i'd probably be telling everyone that i already had grey underneath my new do' :)

    1. I totally am planning to dye my hair, but I'm going to try to wait until after Christmas to do a new color. So as not to freak out the relatives. :)

  4. Such an interesting post! I can definitely see how it would be easy for someone to fall into the trap of being jealous of a blogger's life, just like people get jealous of people in movies or on TV, since it's usually just the most perfect image of the person being portrayed. In the past I have felt jealousy, not about someone's life, but about all of the time that some bloggers seem to have to work on their projects. I don't know where they find it, because I sure know when I'm working on something it means working until midnight after work, and at that point I definitely don't have the energy to take photos and churn out a post every day! That's a big reason why I've gradually been cutting back on my posting frequency; I'd much rather enjoy my free time, rather than feel like a slave to a set number of blog posts a week, just to keep up with other bloggers.

  5. This is a good, thought provoking post. I think that people reading blogs do so to be inspired to try new things, based on what they see others trying out. In general I don't think there is anything wrong with the creators holding back the nasty bits, because really, who wants to read a whole bunch of not-so-happy stuff? I think it is safe to assume that people are just writing the good stuff most of the time, but of course, we're all human so there must be some bad parts too. Anyway, I liked this post and it got me thinking, so thanks for writing it.

    And by the way, your cat is remarkably adorable :)

    1. Good point about inspiration — that's what I try to do! Thanks for commenting Loulou!

  6. I am spending the day off catching up on your blog. I've gotten so far behind on all of my bookmarked reading, but this post made me stop for a moment and think. So thank you, Allie! Also, I totally have gray hairs too. I try telling my hair lady they're blonde, but she won't hear any of it. :P