You’ve got some ‘splainin to do.
I know that sounds sitcom-silly at best and beat-cop-antagonistic at worst, but I mean it sincerely. We’ve been together a long time, you and I, from that first GeoCities homepage in ’99 (those synthesized MIDI versions of Third Eye Blind songs I had running in the background really classed up the joint!) to this morning’s reflexive Facebook scroll-through. I understand that change is inevitable over the years; neither of us is as earnest or as driven to gimmicks as we were in the early days of online socialization, and you never promised to conform to my expectations of you. Still, there is a certain version of reality that you’ve been projecting as something obvious and ordinary which continues to baffle me. And no, I’m not referring to the whole leggings-as-pants thing (though you’re welcome to explain that one too while you’re at it).
What I need you to help me understand is how the average Internet citizen of today seems to be able to juggle three or four full-time jobs at once. Let’s create a composite character for the sake of example: Harlingen Housewife is a totally average mother of four with her own Etsy shop and personal website. She gets up at 5 every morning so she’ll have adequate time to write a viral blog entry and run a few miles before making her family organic omelets for breakfast. While the kids are at school, she works on her third memoir, clears out her email inbox, and dusts the attic, keeping up a steady stream of Twitter banter all the while. After lunch, she focuses on her children, chauffeuring the older ones to extracurricular activities and facilitating art projects with the younger ones using a homemade watercolor recipe that she created on commission for Pinterest. Supper is quinoa-based. After reading the kids to sleep and treating her husband to a few rounds of lovemaking, she gets to work knitting custom convertible car tops for her Etsy shop. Only one or two tonight. After all, she needs plenty of sleep before her keynote speech at the next day’s Billionaire Bloggers Conference.
This is just a flat stereotype, of course. There are women who also manage to homeschool or run farms or travel the world or conduct publicity tours while doing all of the above. Some even hold down glamorous day jobs without missing a beat in their online success parade. Or at least that’s the picture you’re painting, dear Internet.
Here’s where my confusion comes in. I opened Twitter the other morning and immediately closed it again because—let’s be honest—99.7% of all Tweets nowadays are links to other pages, and I didn’t have time to read and compose retweetable comments on the thirty showing up on my screen, much less the thirty thousand queued up from the previous day. I didn’t have time because I was hoping to fit in a run before lunch, and adding two new pages to a writing project had already taken the lion’s share of the morning. The girls had an event scheduled for the afternoon, which meant that I would only have two hours after lunch in which to fit (or rather, fail to fit) errands, housecleaning, bookkeeping, emails, homework help, ironing, and a short lapse in judgment involving cookies… and there was the day, stretched out before me like a threadbare map, every inch of it already accounted for and found lacking.
You see, Internet, the contrast is just too great between what I’m able to do with my day (maintain a happy and occasionally hygienic home + write a little) and what you imply other moms are accomplishing with theirs (All The Things). Either I’m spectacularly incapable, or you’re skewing the truth. Or perhaps I’m just latching onto a skewed perspective of the truth that you never intended me to have. It’s hard to figure out sometimes what is real out here in the no-holds-barred glitter of your ether.
I realize that just because I can’t juggle multiple full-time gigs at once (and we DO agree that stay-at-home parenting is a legitimate occupation, right? good.) doesn’t mean that other people can’t. I also realize that the enviable personas attracting your spotlight are most likely supported by teams of babysitters and house elves and graphic designers and pizza delivery guys backstage. That’s just a hopeful guess though. For all I know, you could be the ultimate landing place for multitasking superheroes.
So please, dear Internet, in light of all the years we’ve spent together and my enduring love for the avenues of self-expression you’ve opened to the world, do me the courtesy of explaining:
- Whether or not task forces of mythical creatures are running the lives of successful bloggers for them
- What the primary difference is between my workday and theirs (if you say it’s a 5 a.m. wakeup time, I reserve the right to punch you in the throat even though I’ll know you’re right)
- What others are sacrificing for the appearance of having it all
- If those sacrifices have been worth the resulting success
- How anyone can keep up with Twitter and do anything else ever
Puzzled in Perugia