I was watching The Backup Plan earlier and realized how romantic comedies have a way of highlighting societal trends. Perhaps someone has researched this or drawn this parallel before, but I doubt a movie like The Backup Plan (about a woman who decides to inseminate herself because she does not have a partner but wants a baby, and then ends up finding a partner and having two babies), would have been in theatres even 15 years ago.
First of all, feminism is still a relatively recent social movement if we associate it with elements like voting rights and the advent of birth control (historically speaking, there are examples of powerful women throughout history – a few that come to mind: Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, Wu Zetian, Cleopatra – and that’s not to say that being a powerful female = being feminist, just that there are some similarities).
Second of all, there are a variety of cultural taboos (at least in the U.S.) surrounding female sexuality, including conception and childbirth. For some, it is still a challenge to talk about topics like fertility in public, let alone being artificially inseminated and having a child on one’s own.
Which got me thinking about the idea of what information we choose to make public and what information we don’t.
While there are movies like The Backup Plan and other variants who are bringing historically taboo topics out into the open, I find that I actually maintain a fairly private identity in the public sphere.
This is not just because I’m an introvert (though I don’t doubt the role of that personality trait in what I disclose in public), but because I feel social pressure to share the positives.
For example, in looking at what I choose to share on Facebook you’ll find: photos of me (95% of which are uploaded by friends who have taken the images), photos I’ve taken during my recent dive into digital photography (mostly of adult dancers), the occasional status update wishing folks a Happy 4th of July or thanking people for posting a wall note on my birthday, and the tiniest bit of info on where I went to school, where I grew up, and where I live. Dan and I didn’t even post our relationship statuses until a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve been together almost two years.
Furthermore, when I look at my Facebook feed, I see: wedding photos, newborn baby photos, new house photos, status updates on a vacation or trip, “I love you” posts between family and friends, news articles on topics of interest (mainly positive, the only controversial ones of late were related to the Presidential election), marathon medals/competition awards, graduation photos…I think you get the picture.
Now granted, I realize I’m focusing on Facebook here, and that perhaps my activities and/or that of my Facebook friends, is atypical of the norm, but in my experiences, I’m seeing a definite bias towards positive events/experiences.
In fact, even though there may be an occasional quote about “life being tough”, I rarely see a status update saying “I was laid off today,” or “I came out and my family was less than thrilled,” or (in my case) “had a really rough physical therapy session today.”
The more controversial, less rosy, grit in life – is definitely lacking in my social networks.
As I said, I know there are limitations to my observations based on my small sample, but I’d be curious to know if you’re finding similar results across your own social channels.
It seems ironic to me at a time when (at least within the U.S.) we seem to be outwardly praising acceptance and self-expression, and yet there is still a bit of censorship in what we really show. And as I said, I’m guilty of it too – I keep my Facebook posts to a minimum, and rarely bare my soul to Pinterest followers and the like.
The question I have is…why?
I’ll hunt around for some research. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any thoughts. What trends do you notice amongst your social networks? Are they similar or different from mine?
Thanks for reading,
Tags: communication, cultural norms, Facebook, Facebook feed, negative life events, news feeds, positive life events, public disclosure, reality, romantic comedies, self censorship, social behavior, social commentary, social media, social networking, status updates, the backup plan, trends