No filter

posted by Jeff | Friday, December 17, 2021, 1:44 PM | comments: 0

The hashtag #nofilter I believe has its origins on Instagram, where someone would post a photo that was so beautiful that they didn't feel like they needed to edit it, or especially in the early days of the service, apply some dumb filter to make it look like film or mess with the contrast or whatever. It seemed particularly popular for sunsets and mountains and such.

But what if we stopped filtering the "ugly" stuff entirely?

One of the more toxic aspects of social media is that it tends to paint an incomplete, and often overwhelmingly positive, picture of a person. I used to mostly discount this phenomenon, because it's not really that different from real life. People present themselves a certain way, though in the analog sense it would typically be with clothes or cars or a big act of confidence to establish that they have all of their shit together. What I had not thought much about is that I have the benefit of having grown up only with the analog version of this. I have the benefit of experience of seeing people for who they are, since real life doesn't filter everything. Younger people who only know life with smart phones don't have this benefit, so it's entirely possible that they perceive the filtered world as reality. That sets up some pretty messed up expectations.

I also tend to not filter things because I'm me. I've been told many times that I'm "direct," that it isn't hard to see where I stand, and this is probably true. It might be a personality choice, or autism, but more than anything I think that it's because the filtering would be exhausting. It's not that I don't filter at all... this blog and Instagram do not paint a complete profile of me, but there are things that would just take too much energy to filter out.

The other, more important reason to filter less, is that we have to work harder at sharing empathy. I get a surprising amount of unsolicited email from total strangers expressing gratitude that I write about parenting, autism, and yes, even my colonoscopy. We all eventually need to have our poop chute evacuated to check for cancer, so why is it that I went into it without having ever had a conversation with anyone about what to expect? We have this illogical cultural expectation that some things are too taboo to talk about, and these standards are completely arbitrary. If you don't think that this is destructive, think about how it's only a half-step away from the non-discussion topics about sexuality, racism and other things considered impolite to share or talk about. That has to change.

Share the beautiful moments, but don't be afraid to share the difficult ones.


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