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