Back to re­al­ity

As her dig­i­tal self emotes im­mac­u­lately through cy­berspace, takes a break from vir­tual life… in real life.

The Press - Your Weekend (The Press) - - Viewpoint - Amie Richard­son

“How you?” my cute, moon-eyed Bit­moji trills to my friend’s blonde high-pony­tailed Bit­moji. “Mon­days…” her Bit­moji replies from un­der a blan­ket.

“Noooooooo,” mine agrees from bended knees, arms raised to the sky. She is im­mac­u­late in her an­guish – a car­toon film star, per­fectly me.

In re­al­ity, I am sit­ting in my PJS, my hair looks like a fluffy-haired baby’s and I am any­thing but an­guished as I sit look­ing out the win­dow at the sun hit­ting the Otago Har­bour.

But in my Bit­moji world, these per­fectly paired besties play make be­lieve. They wear iden­ti­cal sun­nies while our faces emerge as peas in a pod, hearts buzz around the two of us hang­ing from branches, stars fly from our high fives, we ride in pa­per air­planes and bathe in hot­dogs.

Even when we’re an­gry, the gi­ant FU fin­ger my car­toon avatar holds seems adorable – and that’s even with­out the bee cos­tume.

Strangely the world of my Bit­moji doesn’t seem too far re­moved from the rest of my cy­ber self. The fun, fan­tasy land of Face­book or per­fectly fil­tered shots for In­sta­gram of­fer a space away from the hum­drum re­al­ity of ne­go­ti­at­ing with tired, whinge­ing boys or get­ting the wash­ing done.

But keep­ing up with your so­cial me­dia self is ex­haust­ing.

On a re­cent trip to the Catlins, I watched peo­ple take self­ies with the Pu­rakaunui Falls in the back­ground. They spent the next five min­utes try­ing to up­load the photo to In­sta­gram be­fore giv­ing up be­cause of bad re­cep­tion and turn­ing around and walk­ing back to the car.

Ev­ery event, land­mark, mo­ment is metic­u­lously cap­tured and up­loaded – the hol­i­day views from the end of painted toe­nails, plates of salad or per­fectly pre­sented chil­dren fil­ter out the bor­ing bits to re­veal smil­ing faces or pas­sion­ate sen­ti­ments.

Last week I watched a 20-some­thing Face­book Live her­self walk­ing into a café. Noth­ing was hap­pen­ing in the café that didn’t hap­pen ev­ery day. My eight-year-old wants to set up a pro­file so that he can com­ment on his favourite Youtube star’s pre­dic­tions about what will hap­pen in the next

movie. This “star” comes with 60,000 fol­low­ers and no links to said movie.

I’m ter­ri­fied of the in­sid­i­ous ter­rain of so­cial me­dia that my boys will have to nav­i­gate through their teenage years. Equally, I’m ter­ri­fied of be­ing left be­hind, of be­ing ir­rel­e­vant – and drag­ging my boys back with me.

And there we are at home, each one of us look­ing at a screen separately, check­ing in to so­cial me­dia and on­line spa­ces while our Sun­day morn­ing whiles away.

While my Bit­moji sends kisses to my friend, I look over my iphone and tell the boys to put the screens away.

We put on gum­boots, feel the crisp sea air hit our faces and walk to the top of a spiky clifftop look­ing down on sea lions bask­ing in the sun.

There are no pic­tures.

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