Are you looking for online inspiration? A lifestyle which makes you feel a bit envious and unbalanced after goggling over it for an hour and boiling the kettle three times without making the tea?
Me too. So, in response to this, I propose an anti-aspirational social media.. the kind of online experience where people don’t end up feeling bad about themselves… but feel better about themselves instead. How does a person do that? Is there a yardstick for this? Is it the kind of yardstick where you walk away and think, ‘Thank God I’m not that girl’?
And can I even imagine this concept away the movie Mean Girls? I think of the cafeteria tribe scene; Janis explaining the different high school groups sitting together: ‘The girls who eat their feelings, the girls who don’t eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active band geeks..’ and me? The anti-aspiration social media platform group kid.. and yep, I’m that loser all on her own.
Even the younger generation of the Royal Family were promoting mental health in the British media before they all fell out. And whether mental health awareness goes hand-in-hand with the rise in social media, I’m not sure. I just pay attention to the stigma of feeling bad about yourself. That ache to want to be something that you aren’t. To have what you don’t have. For better or worse, I know it.
My uncle Brian joined us for Christmas day. I haven’t spent Christmas with him for twenty-eight years.
‘I forgot how nice this was,’ he said, tucking into Jack’s Christmas perfectly cooked dinner. Hold on… am I allowed to brag about this? Just a little? Dammit. Make the rules up and then break them.
Up to that point, I’d been privately trying to remember if Brian had left us or if my aunt Ela had kicked him out all those years ago. In the end, I think I left it consigned to vaults of whatever. It was nice seeing him at Christmas. Unless you mentioned Brexit. Then we saw some of the old twitchy anger pass across his face.
‘This Brexit thing is crazy,’ he said.
When he said it, I remembered the time he’d flung his cigarette into the kitchen sink while standing at the other end of the kitchen. Zeus and his lightening bolts would have been impressed. My teenage self had just planted myself between him and Ela. The cigarette sizzled past my skin.
‘We’re ruining things not so much for us but for all our children,’ he continued.
I nodded. Yeah but at least we don’t have to suck on Europe’s corruption I thought. Don’t say that though. It’s just not cool to be a Brexiteer. We listened to his Remainer reasoning.. and it all sounded pretty logical. That’s the thing about Brexit.. I agree with all the Remainers, but I still want to stick two fingers up at Europe. Winston Churchill style. At the end of dinner, Ela passed me her twenty-five-year old whisky glass and told me to sip on it.
‘Why don’t I get to try the good stuff?’ Brian said in mock outrage. ‘All I get is the cheap five-year old stuff.’
I winked at him. ‘I get the good stuff because I’ve been here for the last twenty-eight years for Christmas.’
His eyebrows lifted up. To be honest, I was surprised I said it. I certainly didn’t plan it. Brian isn’t my blood-related uncle and, although I loved him a lot when I was little, I didn’t exactly miss him when he left. Not in the same way I missed my dad. That was the yardstick I couldn’t avoid.
Later on, Brian and I sat watching the Christmas TV special, Torvill and Dean. This really was nice, I thought remembering again how much I loved him as a kid. Then a scene came up in the movie when Jayne Torvill’s dad read her a bedtime story.. and Jayne was a pretty grown-up kid by then. I cringed, but Brian turned to me. He was smiling.
‘Did your dad do that for you every night?’
I looked back at him. Touché. Still, I thought. That wasn’t my yardstick.