Instafamous

Back in the day if you wanted your child to be a star chances are you had to pull a Jed Clampett and tell yourself “Californy is the place you ought to be.” (Sorry for that Beverly Hillbillies throwback.) Now, there’s another way to reach the masses with your kid’s talent without ever having to leave home – social media.

There are legions of parents out there who are ambitiously dedicated to making their children “instafamous.” This term is derived from the Instagram app and to be instafamous is to have hordes of followers on social media.

Usually an aspiring instafamous kid has a social media account “managed by their mother” and features lots, I mean like, thousands of photos of the child. When you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook you know when you see pictures of a kid that feature an otherworldly, soft focus glow from the use of the Mayfair filter (because studies show that photos using the Mayfair filter get the most likes) and seem most certainly photoshopped that this child is probably on the instafamous track.

(I’m now going on the record as saying that if you’re parent that believes the natural beauty of your child isn’t good enough so therefore you feel compelled to photoshop, blur and enhance the image of your four-year-old you have problems and need to immediately seek professional help.)

I admit to being bewildered by parents who shamelessly court followers for their children on social media. Is there an upside? I mean how is your darling cherub ever going to usurp a celebrity’s kids in likes and follows? And what’s the end game besides people thinking you’re crazy?

Yes, crazy because everyone knows that for the most part getting your kid instafamous is more about you and your ego issues than your eight-year-old giving a flip about whether or not the last photo you posted exceeded 1K in likes.

My daughter is a competitive dancer (think athlete + artist) and that world seems to breed mothers who are intent on gaining instafamous status for their child. For one thing it’s easy – you’ve got loads of impressive dance pics of your kid and there’s enough going on in the dance world from Dance Moms to So You Think You Can Dance Kids to buoy a parent’s hope that their child could be the next big thing. There’s also the lure of getting a dance apparel contract for your child, which seems to be predicted on social media followers and is step one in the “I Want My Kid To Be A Star” handbook.

What scares and confounds me is that these parents seem to be oblivious or choose to ignore the frightening fact that a lot of social media love comes from creeps. One dance studio in Kansas had a huge security concern after some zealous wanna be instafamous moms hustled their kids so much that “strange men” starting lurking outside the dance studio. And a young dancer “who made it” has mega fans like a prison inmate who has the child’s likeness tattooed on his face.

We live in a hyper vigilant society where we won’t let our kids play outside in their own yard or ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac without an adult present. People freak out and call the police when they see a child walking home from school alone. So, I’m perplexed how there can there be such a huge disconnect for some parents who wouldn’t let their kid run down the street to the neighbors but are actively wooing and inviting the worst of humanity into their child’s life via social media.

Is another Instagram follower worth it? You can’t Mayfair filter or photoshop the ugly out of that question.

Crock-Pot Selfie

1347476657304_151538It’s the day I thought would never come. Something so miraculous has happened to me that a week later I’m still giddy. I, with chest thumping pride, can now report that I no longer have the lamest phone in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.

Just how lame was my phone you ask?

Not only was it so old that no business entity or craft fair would deign to manufacture or crochet a phone cover, but the AT&T store employees at first passed my phone around with wonder like it was a unicorn. Quickly that thrill was gone and I noticed they had fear in their eyes. I knew what they were thinking. I had seen that look before. When anyone under 25 would gaze at my phone they’d freak out a little.

My best guess is that my outdated phone probed their greatest inner fear — that one day a Pacman-like virus would appear and gobble up advanced technology, taking us all back to the flip phone and texting through mashing a button multiple times. Remember when if you wanted a Y you had to really go for it and click the 9 on your phone three times? Well, I was this close to living that life.

Thanks to my children, who staged an intervention and literally marched me into an AT&T store, I’ve got the latest and greatest in cellular technology (which means by the time you read this my phone will already need six software updates). I thought I would be thrilled with having a phone that was cool. At first I was, thanks to being introduced to the world of 1,000 different emojis. I had been emoji-free my entire life and now that I can send a happy-face-with-sunglasses text, well, it changed me. It spoke to my very soul. Who needs the alphabet to communicate when you can talk via panda emoji?

The downside of the phone is having all the social media apps on it. Yuck. I’ve hit the social media wall. I avoid Facebook during a presidential election year. I’ve got a hunch that when people write about politics they think it makes them sound smart. Sadly, the opposite is usually true. I miss the days when people would just stick a sign in their yard and call it a day.

As for Twitter, something’s wrong with my feed. I don’t know what happened, but slow cooker recipes are all I ever see. It’s not like I haven’t “followed” cool stuff like the Royals, but I never see those tweets. For some reason my account has been algorithmed to show only recipes where your food languishes in a hot tub for a six hours.

I just checked it right now and the first nine things on are it, yep, you guessed it: Crock-Pot crap. I saw a recipe for Crock-Pot Coca-Cola lamb stew. Excuse me for a minute while I go brush my teeth because I threw up in my mouth a little bit. And there was also a Crock-Pot cake tweet. Who makes a cake in a Crock-Pot? Like it’s so much harder to dump the batter in a pan and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes. And don’t get me started on cooking oatmeal in a Crock-Pot. Yes, let’s take something you can make in under 60 seconds with boiling water and stretch out that process to eight hours.

Plus, and here’s something hard-core Crock-Potians never talk about, Crock-Pots can be a huge pain to clean. All that leisurely slow cooking creates a crust of baked-on food residue that remains forever stalwartly clinging to the ceramic base. I don’t care if you lube up your Crock-Pot with enough aerosol vegetable cooking spray that it makes the Exxon Valdez oil spill look like a minor leak — you’re still not going to be able to wipe that thing clean.

Heed this warning: Do not make mac and cheese in a Crock-Pot. I’m pretty sure I got carpal tunnel’s from all the scrubbing it took. I’m talking 30 minutes and six SOS pads to get my Crock-Pot sort of clean and that was after soaking it overnight.

With my new phone I could even have taken a selfie with multiple sad-face emojis or done a snapchat while I was scouring my slow cooker. But, here’s the deal: Now that I’ve got this fancy phone, if you ever see me in a #crockpotselfie, please assume I’m being held against my will and do all you can to stage a dramatic rescue. I suggest using the Trader Joe’s parking lot as a command post.

In fact, bring your Crock-Pots. If you have ever used them to cook oatmeal or mac and cheese, they’ll fit the criteria for WMD’s and that means you can really scare my captors into a speedy hostage release.


 

Dear Snarky – The Selfish Selfie

a-true-friend-only-posts-the-photos-you-both-look-good-in-cHwDear Snarky,

Please help me because I’m ready to disown a friend. I realize the problem I’m about to tell you may sound stupid, but its super annoying and I’m just so over dealing with it.

My friend takes pictures constantly and she’s always posting on all of her 4 social media sites. The problem is when you’re in a picture with her or any group photo she goes in and uses all kinds of apps to make herself look good from teeth whitening, wrinkle erasing, slimming her face, etc and leaves the rest of us looking like crap. AND I think sometimes she edits us so we look worse.

How do I get her to stop without making it a big deal? I’m afraid if I say anything she’ll put zits on all my pictures.

Signed, Photoshopped

Dear Photoshopped,

Have you ever thought about just saying no to having your picture taken? As in, “No, thanks, I don’t want to be in the group selfie.” There’s an easy fix to your problem. 

For more suggestions I consulted my social media, selfie expert – my 15-year-old daughter. She says the best way to deal with a friend who “blurs,” that’s her word for someone who is over zealous in their use of Instagram beauty apps, is to just call them out on it.

She said she had a friend who would always whiten her teeth in pictures and no one else’s so kids starting leaving comments like, “Love the bleach teeth. Which app did you use – Clorox?”

I know this maybe harder to do when you’re a grown woman BUT if someone is going to go all photoshop crazy in a group pic then I feel you have every right to bust them on it.  Your friend, unless she suffers from some sort of delusional mental illness, has to know that nobody is fooled by her enhanced photos.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice with an Attitude please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

So It’s Come to This – The Butt Selfie

ec94fa2ed4efb220cf5761f7f50a765556e7932611342c5b1cba10e542bcb037The good and bad thing about writing  is that people are always suggesting story ideas. These suggestions are usually termed like this, “Hey, I’ve got something new for you to complain about . . .”

Okay, I get it. I complain – a lot. I’d like to think I’m complaining for the greater good of mankind, but my thought process on that hypothesis could be a tad misguided.

Recently, I’ve had a lot of mothers (and by that I mean more than three) have asked me to write/grouse about the skimpy Sports Illustrated magazine swimsuit edition cover. For those of you without the benefit of sight the magazine features a woman wearing a bikini bottom that would be snug on an American Girl doll and provides minimal coverage of only the most basic parts of the female anatomy.

Here’s my problem with the photo. I don’t have one. Yep, I have zero issues with it. The model is an adult and I’m fairly certain she didn’t have regrets posing semi nude or was in any way surprised that a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue would involve stripping down to almost your birthday suit.

In fact, I think the magazine cover is actually a duel ode to the art form known as Photoshopping and the waxing industry. Can you imagine a cover like that before having bald nether regions were in vogue? Just no on that visual. Right?

What I want to say to women who were offended by the cover is that if they really want to be horrified they need to check out the Instagram accounts of 14 year-old-girls on Spring break. There you can behold picture after picture of girls in their bikinis who have taken what I would classify as burgeoning soft-core pornography shots. Close ups of their breasts in their swimsuit tops and butt photos all abound on social media. One girl even attempted to get artisty and have a cheek shot on the beach with the sun setting behind her behind.

Tragically, that’s not the worst part. The comments and “likes” the photos elicit are. This is where friends, classmates and God forbid strangers take to leaving remarks about the sexy photo a child has posted of themselves. It’s creepy and crass.

It also makes me very sad and scared. What has happened to this generation of entry-level young women that they feel the need, the desire, to objectify themselves on a very public stage and then eagerly wait for comments?

I know it’s nothing new to strut your stuff. But back in the day we did it at the local pool and our Sears Lemon Frog swim wear was no Victoria’s Secret cheekster bikini.

Sure, we can take the easy way out and blame the Kardashians. If you’re parenting a girl over the age of 11 the reality TV, social media savvy family can be used as an excuse for almost any questionable behavior your daughter maybe exhibiting. For example, wanting to wear a rainbow thong in the 6th grade – so Kardashian. Wanting to post a picture of yourself in a thong in the 8th grade – so Kim Kardashian.

Iffy role models aside what’s really going on here? Are teenage girls so lacking in self-esteem that they feel the need to go full boob on Instagram just so someone can leave a comment that they are “hot”?

Now, please note I’m not picking on just girls. I know teenage boys way overshare and there’s a reason local middle schools have assemblies about why you “shouldn’t post nudes online.”

But, and this is what was keeping me at night, why aren’t the kids afraid of their parents bringing down a mega load of wrath if and when they discover these photos? To get this question answered I went straight to the source – 13 and 14-year-old girls.

Umm, there’s no easy way for me to break this to you, but a lot of the Spring break pictures, most especially the ones featuring fannies, were taken by mothers!

The sun setting rear end shot I mentioned early that highlighted a 14-year-old’s back end spilling out of what I would graciously describe as less of a swimsuit bottom and more of a piece of lycra supplying crack camo was photographed by a M-O-M!

This makes me want so many things to happen like a national holiday celebrating the full coverage panty. But mainly I want to urge parents to teach, preach, shout it from the rooftops, do a yard sign, and maybe some kind of decal for the car (I mean seriously, who cares that you ran 22.2 miles? Wouldn’t a sticker that says my daughter is in training to run the universe be even better?) that our daughters have so much more to offer humankind than a selfie of their butt.

cover_1.3-2*Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

 

Ache Free

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Last week, I got a bruising social media beat down and not by discussing politics or religion. Oh no, this was a subject infinitely more volatile: motherhood. All it took was two words, one syllable each, to cause a firestorm.

A friend from back in the day had linked to a post a woman had written about her kids getting older and how she ached, painfully — desperately ached — for the days when they were babies. So, as you can guess, many moms were writing ooey gooey prose in the comment bar on Facebook about how they also ached for those baby days. The smells, the smiles, the spit up.

I, on the other hand, wrote my two words. Ache free.

Well, well, well, say hello to a blistering rebuttal of mom hate. Those two words give birth to a firestorm of comments on how I must suck at being a mother because I don’t ache to climb into a maternal time machine and re-live sleep deprivation and sore nipples.

At first, I was all “Holy crap” at the outrage and then I thought to myself let’s do this! Let’s really mix it up! They want ache. I’ll give them an ache right in the old backside. My first course of action was do what I would call a social media airstrike. One ridiculously, outrageous comment to take down (tick off) many. So I posted this: “Maybe I’m not aching because I’m proud of my children and parenting skills and don’t feel the need to go back in time to correct my mistakes.” Talk about a direct hit! The fallout was nuclear winter in it’s intensity. The angry, the hostility, the rage!

Then I went into sniper mode and one by one took aim at the most pompous targets. The most delicious was tweaking the “friend” that posted the ache link. You would have thought she was still clutching her now teenage children to her breast in an XL, steel reinforced, Baby Bjorn. Oh, how she went on and on about the halcyon baby days with her “precious munchkins.”

I have no problem with that. Every mother should look back fondly at those times. What did irk me was that she led the charge in leveling mom hate towards me when all I did was post – ache free. This woman called me a “baby hater” and then went all stabby with the statement that by being ache free I was a bad mother AND she felt “sorry for my children.”

Really? She felt sorry for my children because I don’t want them back in diapers. And this was from a women who had a skill, no, make that a talent, for foistering her children off on other mothers. She’s the one who would invite her child over to your house for a playdate and then forget to pick them up for 24 hours. That’s why I had zero problems with posting this:  “@dmj I get why you’re aching. It’s probably guilt festering from 1999 when you petitioned the church to change their mother’s day out rules to accept babies at younger than six weeks so you could have more ‘me’ time.”

That’s right. I wrote that. Yes, it’s horrible but factual and I was thinking of the greater good. Someone needed to call these women out on their mom on mom hate campaign even if it was me adding lighter fluid to whole hot mess. This is what I don’t get – we’re all on this journey together so why do mothers feel the need to keep a constant vigil scanning the horizon for any chance to bring another mother down? Are we that insecure? I sure hope not.

Oh, and do you want to know why I typed ache free? It’s because as the mother of two teenagers every so often, I, get the briefest of glimpses, of what my children might be like as adults and it’s thrilling. More exciting than when they started sleeping through the night or took those first wobbly steps. These nano second glances into their future makes me not only ache free but joyous for what they might someday offer the world.

cover_1.3-2 *Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂