The realities of (my) country living
There’s been a bit of a hoohah lately where certain people (mainly on twitter) have been blaming Instagrammers for unfairly painting an impossible vision of reality. Young women looking amazing in photographs with the caption ‘just woken up’ or face-tuning to look flawless (face-tuning?!) or editing photographs so, for example, the crowds or the litter bin has been removed. Making photographs look blissfully perfect. Then by extension you think their lives are perfect.
And I feel like I need to write something about the types of photographs I post. But before I do I want to preempt what I’m going to say with this. Instagram is a visual platform. We’re looking, as we scroll through it, for visually pleasing photographs. Many of us like to focus on the small elements of joy a day has brought us. Forgetting the bad and focussing on the good.
Perfect moments. Not perfect lives.
I’m not coming on Instagram for pictures of messy sinks. I’ve got one of those myself thank you very much.
But these mere moments have a habit of making you think their entire life is like that.
I get messages saying my life is GOALS or ‘love your little farm’ or ‘your life is perfect’. So am I just as guilty of portraying a perfect life in the countryside as certain travel Instagrammers do when they edit out scenes of crowds from their photographs?
I don’t edit these bits out of the photographs, by the way, I just don’t take photos of the messy bits. Or the sad bits. The areas where the nettles are growing where they shouldn’t. The banking by the stream that’s neglected. The conker tree that’s never grown and needs to be moved but I’ve not got round to it. The weeds - oh the weeds! in my back garden. The chicken houses that need cleaning out. I’ve still not cleaned out the disused one that the chicks grew up in and that they moved out of a couple of months ago.
I took a video of my puppy chasing a leaf on the patio yesterday. But didn’t post it because I was embarrassed by the weeds growing in the cracks of the patio stones. Seriously. I’m rolling my eyes at myself as I type. So am I guilty by omission?
The truth is - my life in the countryside isn’t perfect. In fact, I’m typing this with an achy body from anxiety. I’m clenching my jaw at night; waking up with a terrible headache. I’m fed up of the chickens and the ducks. I know I won’t be replacing them once my elderly flock have died off. Then I walk around the land and berate myself for not having weeded or kept on top of things over the hot summer.
I was asked on Instagram if I ever got lonely. Which made me think. Because I rather like the solitude. I enjoy my own company and I have the dogs. My husband works from home a lot, too, although he also travels. And although I don’t think I get lonely when I’m working, I do during the school holidays when I down tools. And my children would like to live closer to their friends.
Just re-reading through that I hope I don’t sound ‘oh woe is me’. I know I’m incredibly lucky living where I do. Working from home, walking around my own field and so on. Believe me I know that.
But it’s not perfect. With land and animals comes up-keep and my husband (who works a full-time job and then some) and myself do it all between us. We give up things as a family. We don’t have weekends away or days out. Our annual holiday has to be planned around my parents who then come and house and animal-sit.
We cannot be spontaneous. Fancy a day out? Well, let’s think. Who would look after the animals? Who would put the ducks away before it gets dark?
But I don’t mention that. At least I don’t visually. And often, that’s all people take in.