I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
April 28, 2016
Last week, my husband and I dropped everything, pulled the kids from school, and, along with my two grown stepdaughters, got on a plane bound for California.
A family emergency was responsible for this last-minute journey– I won’t go into detail, because that particular story isn’t mine to tell, but altogether, the week was a bittersweet experience none of us will ever forget. We came home Sunday night emotionally spent, sorrow and trepidation swirling in our hearts along with family pride and fierce love. It’s not an easy time for any of us.
But you wouldn’t know that if you follow me on Facebook.
My feed was filled last week with idyllic images of days spent walking in the surf, bicycling along beaches, and visiting the San Diego Zoo and the La Brea Tar Pits. I did exactly the thing that people love to criticize nowadays– I showed the world my ‘highlights reel’ from last week, and kept the dark and disturbing stuff to myself.
I see complaints about this practice all the time from people who would argue that by putting only my best moments on Facebook, I’m contributing to making others feel like they’re coming up short. I get that– I have certainly felt a little ‘Facebook envy’ myself from time to time… But in general, I’m a big fan of the positive post. Here’s why.
Eleven years ago, I started blogging about my life under the pseudonym ‘Lucinda.’ Using an assumed name was common practice for bloggers in those days, and it gave me the freedom to find my voice as a writer without the people I knew in real life being all up in my business. At first, my posts were raw and brutally honest– As a new mom and stepmom to two tweens, I had a lot on my plate and writing about the dark side of parenting seemed like a great way to process all I was going through. I quickly realized, though, that devoting a post or series of posts to a problem or challenge in my life often gave it greater significance than it really deserved– both in my day-to-day existence and in the way that my readers perceived me. I’d often come away from writing a post feeling more burdened than I had when I’d started.
By contrast, when I wrote about my life in a humorous way, I felt better about things in general. Incidents like my daughter’s diaper explosion at the gym, my stepdaughters’ adolescent backtalk, or a group of snooty moms snubbing me on the soccer field lost their ability to send me into a tailspin and instead became fodder for funny blog posts. My readership responded enthusiastically to these kinds of stories, and within a few months, I moved the majority of my confessional writings to the drafts folder and Suburban Turmoil as we now know it was born.
Although it did look a leetle bit different back then!
Eleven years later, I have to tell you– More than a decade of constantly looking for the lighter side of things has paid off. Hundreds of humor posts I’ve written for this blog weren’t funny at all when they happened– but when viewed through the Suburban Turmoil lens, they became laughable, both in the retelling on my blog and in my own memory as well.
The same holds true today for my social media accounts. I mostly share funny and charming and poignant moments from my life, not because I’m trying to impress anyone, but because those are the moments I want to remember. I absolutely love looking back over my Facebook and Instagram feeds and remembering so many wonderful, everyday occurrences that otherwise would have been forgotten almost immediately after they happened.
Even better? Just like with my blog, sharing positive posts on social media has gotten me in the habit of looking for and acknowledging those small, shining snapshots of my life. When I see a flower blooming in winter on a weekend hike now, I’m likely to stop and take notice. In an instant, a throwaway moment becomes a lifelong memory.
And when I’m on a road trip, I’m much more likely now to pull over and investigate a sign that says, for example, Dean’s Cake House.
Would I have met Dean herself and tasted the best caramel icing I’ve ever eaten in my life a few weeks ago if I didn’t have the added enticement of documenting the experience and sharing it with my friends? I’ll be honest: Probably not.
Don’t get me wrong– I’m not suggesting that we should all completely sanitize our social media accounts. I’m so proud of the way the social media community comes together in the face of a friend’s crushing medical diagnosis or admission of addiction or loss of a loved one. Anyone who regularly reads my online writing knows that I’ve shared some pretty vulnerable moments over the years, from the mistakes I made as a stepmom to the shame I felt about my postpartum depression to my discovery that trusted adults in my hometown had hidden a scout leader’s sexual abuse secret for decades.
But I think long and hard now before I write those kinds of posts, and I spend a lot of time deliberating over exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it– After all, these posts will become part of what’s ultimately a permanent reflection of my life. Have you ever thought about what all your social media musings say about you when you put them together? Maybe it’s time to think about that.
Ultimately, I have hope that one day my great great grandchildren will look over all the words and pictures I’ve left behind, and understand that my life wasn’t always easy, but that I sought out joy and laughter and beauty and love wherever and whenever I could find it.
Call it a highlights reel if you want — I call it a choice to fully enjoy and appreciate every moment in this life that I possibly can.