Why it's important you share the light and dark within your online storytelling
In my recent instagram caption I started with this sentence:
'I was torn as to whether to share this post but I think it's important to show the dark as well as the light.'
The night before I had been driving along the country road near my house at 8 o clock. It was pitch black, aside from my car headlights. And I hit and killed a deer.
I had slammed on my brakes as soon as I saw it. But I knew from the bang the deer had been hit at full impact. (And just writing that sentence makes me sad all over again.) I sat, unmoving for a few seconds, then rang my husband. I got out, knowing he was on his way, and checked the front of my car with my limited iPhone torch. The numberplate had fallen off and there was a hole in the grill. I daren't go back to see the deer on my own in case it was still faintly alive and I would have to 'deal with it' out of kindness.
But as soon as my husband arrived we went with his more powerful torch. And I saw its glassy eyes in the ditch. It was definitely no longer of this earth.
It's a really sad story. I have talked about the muntjac deer that come into our garden. I recorded the noise of one a few months ago making its loud mating call and put it on Instagram Stories. And I even managed to film one.
They had become part of my country story.
I could've not mentioned this online. In fact, I didn't realise I was going to. But, the morning after, still slightly shocked, I found myself writing down the story in my notebook and wondering how I could create a picture out of it for my Instagram feed. Eventually I went with the muscari bulbs because, I don't know, I think I was thinking about the circle of life.
It sounds weird to be thinking about creating an Instagram image to share and get likes on when explaining the death of a country animal. But it didn't come from cynicism. In fact, from the complete opposite.
I wanted to share my sorrow. To share the dark as well as the light.
I was in two minds about sharing the story. I didn't want to upset people and I didn't want people to think I was a deer murderer, either. I do think it's important, however, in our online storytelling, that we share the dark as well as the light moments in our lives. Obviously I'm not saying to share your deepest darkest moments. You have to share what you feel comfortable with.
I know that, unintentionally perhaps, I do project a wonderful life here. We have chickens and ducks and I record them for Instagram Stories and make it look so lovely and stress-free. It is lovely. But there are downsides. Death of animals is one of the biggies. There are more but that's for another time and another blog post.
I don't want to project a 'isn't my life wonderful' image. It would be false. My life is similar to lots of other people's. There's bills to pay, children to feed and get to school, homework to nag them with, lots of worries and anxieties, hoovering to do, the evening meal to make, the dishwasher to empty.
My life isn't all cherry blossom, and beautiful chicken eggs and mouth-watering cakes. And I don't want to make people feel their life is less because they don't have the eggs. Plus, what sort of storyteller would I be if I only shared the good stuff?
If you find your Instagram or blog looks perfect and you feel uncomfortable about that (and, if you don't there's nothing wrong with that either!) then have a go at sharing shades of life within your captions. You can still share your beautiful images and curated gallery. You don't need to share pictures of washing up and mess to show your real life.
You can use your words instead.