Recently my father commented to me that he loved seeing photos of my children on Facebook.
“They’re always smiling and so happy,” he noted.
It felt great to hear, but I felt I needed to point out what seemed to be obvious. “Thanks but they’re always smiling in the photos because I’m not posting the other ones.”
For there is a game to be played on Facebook – the I have the best life ever game – and the weapon of choice is the photo selection. For the uninitiated, here are the (very personalized) rules:
1. Do not ever post when you are on vacation because potential robbers could be alerted to the fact that you are not at home guarding your valuables. Oh, but you just took the most awesome photo on your beach chair with your manicured feet pointing to the white sand beach and the clear blue sea beyond and you know you’d get so many likes and “I’m jealous!” comments that one tiny photo post wouldn’t hurt and did the photo include your mimosa at eleven a.m.? Yes it did! So of course you post, and then you hope your alarm system is functioning.
2. It’s Halloween. Or Purim. Or whatever costume party day of the year. And you picked out the most adorable outfits for your children ever that if Ellen saw them she would totally showcase your kids on her show. A hot dog and a hamburger, a cheerleader and football player, the whole family dressed as members of The Avengers. You’ve paid money for these overpriced pieces of cloth and your kids are going to be insanely adorable in them. Except when one kid decides it’s the scariest costume in the world and refuses to wear it. It’s a dilemma to be sure. On the one hand, you want to be a good parent and not force them to do something they’ll hate. On the other hand, how can everyone know that you’re a good parent if you don’t have photographic proof of them looking adorable in a monster costume? So you do what any good parent worth their salt does – you try a bribe. “Just put on the costume for a picture and you get a cookie?” No dice. The kid didn’t inherit your sweet tooth and while his dentist might be pleased it’s really cutting into your motivational skills. And so you take a picture of one costumed-cutie and one well-at-least-he’s-dressed-cutie and you realize they’re still the most adorable things ever. You do not take a photo of all the candy you sneak from their bags later that night.
3. It snowed quite a bit this winter. And of course that meant everyone had snow pictures. If you had a dime for every snowman, sledding, snow angel and snowball fight picture you saw you could almost afford to buy a new snowblower. So how could you possibly make your snow photos stand out from the rest? You arrange a photo of your family doing it all at once – making snow angels, a snowman and having a snowball fight. The attempted snow angels are thwarted when your children realize they cannot get up from laying the snow. Which they think is the funniest thing ever and then pretend their bodies have gone limp as you try to lift them up. And you wish you had taken a weight lifting class because lifting limp children in heavy snow outfits is really really horrible. The snowball fight begins on a better note as your children quickly warm to the idea of hurling anything at each other with impunity. But as the snowballs begin to fall apart in their mittens you realize this is not the best sort of snow for making snow balls. And as the thought of not being able to lob things at one another is crushed, your children decide to take matters into their own hands and just throw anything they can at each other. Including your phone with its camera. Which you kind of deserve for having attempted to make them have a snowball fight. I’ve just heard people do this but it’s not me, okay?? So you just take a photo of them hugging each other after the fight (made possible with a bribe of making popcorn inside because all good parents use bribes and if I say it enough it will be a fact).
But of course, the true winners of the I have the best life ever game are actually the people who post no photos at all because they are far too busy living life and appreciating its wonder as it comes to take out their camera and click away let alone think of posting on social media. They are just too far above it all to be bothered. I do not like those people and let’s not speak of them again.