Dear Daughter: About On-line impressions

waterwheel no 98 Farmers wife quilt blueDear Daughter,

Another quilt block and letter for your Dear Daughter quilt. I’ve had this one sewn up and ready for awhile, but mislaid it. Along with all the other finished blocks. I turned my craft room upside down looking for it. Finally found the pack between two cookery books. Not my best filing decision.

I’m not the most organized person, as I’m sure you know. More spontaneous. I have moments of pure whirlwind efficiency, which keeps everything ticking along fairly smoothly, but most of the time I tend towards chaos. Organized chaos, as I can usually find whatever is needed. It’s not something I rattle on about on-line, partly as I don’t think people would turn up to read about it.

Far better to write about finished dressmaking projects, rather than the mound of washing that has so far been ignored. Take photos of the places we’ve been, than the areas of the garden yet to be weeded. The dust bunnies multiplying under the table. Seriously, does anyone want to read about the more disorganized side of my reality? Do they really need to be burdened by a photo of my quilt blocks hiding between Mary Berry and Nigella? More to the point, do I want to write and take the photos of it? Heck. No.

waterwheel no 98 Farmers wife quiltThis is really the subject of my letter to you. Not everything on-line tells the whole story.

Especially photos.

Each photo you see, has probably been selected as the best of the rest. Altered and enhanced to show its subject off at its best. After all ,why would anyone publish a bad photo unless it was to prove a point?

The subject of the photo will have been arranged to perfection. Props added to show it off at its best, and cover up boring bits they don’t want you to see. Even a quick photo snapped will have been cropped to cut out something in the background that may distract or not add to the subject.

In short, photos are censored by those that publish them.

homemade cakes(I’ve pointed the camera at the pretty cakes and not the mountain of baking utensils waiting to be washed, that we all know are lurking just out of the frame)

Recently you have shown me photos on Instagram of people you used to go to school with. Some you haven’t seen for two or three years. They look different, and I’m not talking about being 3 years older. They are unrecognizable to me. (I’m beginning to think that the latest fashion of bigger, drawn in eyebrows is a far better disguise than any false moustache.)

The girls staring back out at us, look amazing. They have perfect makeup, hair styled and dyed, and suck their cheeks in, until they no longer resemble the person you knew. They look older than their age. They look confident. They look like they know what they are doing.

Now, as these are the only images you have seen of them recently, it gives the impression that this is how they look all the time. (Although, you and I both know that cheek thing would be impossible to keep up for too long.) It is quite undermining to think your peers have got it sorted and you are left behind. After all, you don’t look anything like that. (Thank goodness, I like your eyebrows the way they are)


(Clematis not from my garden, but the photo added here could give the impression that this is how my garden looks.)

The truth is that they don’t either. More than likely. First up, before they took that photo, they spent ages applying makeup, fiddling with their hair and practising the pout in front of the mirror. Maybe hours. They will have taken several photos and chosen the best to hit the publish button on.

Most would not have time to do this whole rigmarole before school each day. Also checking a mirror every few minutes to ensure the perfect pout, would soon get them a name. I’d bet that they don’t ooze confidence all the time. They will all have their worries that give them anxious moments. The photos hide a lot.

If you could roll back to a few hours before they took the photo, you’d probably find them examining the latest spot on their face and their hair would be scraped back in a Minnie Mouse hairband, that they’ve had since their Aunt brought it back from Disney World, when they were 8. Maybe the makeup session was displacement behaviour, in an attempt to ignore the french verbs that are still in their bag waiting to be memorized for the next day’s test. Maybe they chose that look, as they’d seen another friend’s photo on-line and that’s how they looked.

Maybe they are pretty much just like you. (Except the Minnie Mouse part. Not part of your collection.)

waterwheel no 98 Farmers wife quilt yellow roseSo my message to you is, that a photo may be worth a thousand words, but those words may not be the ones you see at first glance.

As ever,

Your loving Mother

This is part of my Dear Daughter quilt project. One letter for each quilt block. Until a whole quilt is completed. This is my 21st block. You can view all the finished quilt blocks, and their letters, via my Dear Daughter page.

6 thoughts on “Dear Daughter: About On-line impressions

  • Tuesday 7 June, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Wise words indeed! My 13 year old daughter isn’t into make up or clothes particularly but when I see some of the girls in her year – they easily pass for 16 or older. There have also been quite a few problems at school with inappropriate photos being sent (if you get my drift) despite God knows how many e-safety assemblies!

    • Wednesday 8 June, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Oh don’t get me started on the inappropriate photos. I really cannot get my mind around why they still do it. Yes, it goes on in Teen’s school too. Fortunately, she just hears about it and the fall-out.

      Her school seems to be a lot more subtle with the makeup, unlike the neighbouring school, where it seems to be part of the uniform. I think it is easy to forget that the selfies and snapshots we see on-line take a lot less time to view than they take to create, but the impression can last even longer. Proportions are all wrong!

  • Wednesday 8 June, 2016 at 9:28 am

    A lovely post and very wise words. I hope they give your daughter the strength to be the person she wants to be not the person that the rest of society on line or otherwise thinks she should be.

    • Wednesday 8 June, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Such a lovely sentiment. Thank you. I hope she does.

  • Thursday 9 June, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    You’ve hit the nail on the head about the disproportionality (is that a word? It works anyway). Surrounded by pictures chosen from many, with large amounts of time spent on the subject and the image itself. i read a blog post from someone about how her little snaps made her wonder if it was okay to still blog as everyone was using expensive cameras and perfect lighting. She decided if people were still reading then what she did was enough. That’s the only way to get through it all, to allow ourselves to be enough.

    • Saturday 11 June, 2016 at 1:31 am

      It sounds like she is a good writer. I hope she continues. I hope no-one believes that the whole story is shown in the photos (or writing). I hope that is a real word. I understand what you mean.

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