In the creative industry as in all walks of life, there is a tendency to
focus overwhelmingly on the positive and to ignore or minimise the negative,
the less-than-perfect or the ugly.
In general this is usually the best policy - as my mother used to say
"if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". However
this can lead to what is known in the scientific community as publication bias. Results of
pharmaceutical clinical trials which show a positive outcome are far more
likely to be published than those which don't.
In the same way, we are all far more likely to document our successful
projects on Ravelry and show them on Instagram, than we are to show photos of
that sweater with the wonky sleeve that was relegated to the back of the cupboard.
In general, we are far more likely to show only the good, the beautiful
and the perfect. Recently a well known Instagrammer made this point and
published a series of photos showing her 'everyday' after someone made the
comment that she had a 'beautiful life' Her thoughtful response was that, of her
normal day the part she shared via social media
comprised approximately 2% - and that was on a good day.
Whilst entirely understandable, this type of self-censorship has the
potential to cause anxiety or negative thinking amongst users of social media.
Any feelings of self-doubt or tendency to over-critical thinking can be made
worse by an endless parade of 'lovely' photographs. As a new parent I remember
distinctly feeling overwhelmed by seeing a good friend post pictures she took
of baking cookies with her toddler - all happy smiles and clean faces. When I
tried the same it ended in tears, tantrums and flour-covered cat.
Now, I'm not for one minute suggesting that we all start to broadcast
our 'Ugly' but when using social media it is well worth bearing in mind that
you are seeing carefully editing highlights of someones life, or work or craft.
And, as beautiful and inspirational as it is, it is part of a bigger, messier,
And for the record, and in the spirit of scientific interest - this is the product of a week's worth of data gathered on my 'normal' day.
For lots more thoughts on Ugly and it's meaning in our creative context, please see the fabulous A Playful Day, whose brainchild this 'Love Your Blog' series is. Her post on this weeks theme is fabulous and well worth a read.