There's a lot of talk on the Internet lately about how fake we are on social media. There was the recent "An Honest Facebook Movie", a mock version of the "a look back" movies Facebook offered users to highlight their lives to celebrate Facebook's 10th anniversary.
Then there was the Insta-Bullshit slide-show, revealing the empty and lonely life behind the scenes of an average Instagram account.
Add to that the daily mocking and call-outs across the Internet about the fakery of social media, and the mocking and call-outs of too much honesty, and it seems there's no winning. If you paint a pretty picture it will be interpreted as a sham covering up the black hole that is your actual life, and paint a truer picture and be mocked for acting as an attention whore.
I was contemplating this as I prepared a cup of tea the other day, deciding to pull a delicate piece of China from the cupboard and do it up proper. The bone-white cup with its flower details contrasted with the dark, steaming tea was an aesthetic feast. I felt inspired to grab my phone and take a couple of shots. There were dirty dishes in the sink, and I was in my pajamas with messy hair. Would posting a photo of the tea mean I was an empty shell trying to make my life more interesting? Or was I doing what I had always done as a contemplative person - noticing.
I suppose it's possible that many people are simply trying to make their lives look better and more interesting than they are in reality, and in so doing exacerbate feelings of social poverty and overall meaninglessness. I think it's also possible that what we share online - in blogs, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and so on - is similar to the memoir. We select the stories that we tell because they mean something to us, because they are interesting to others, because these things stand out in the moment and live on in our memories.
I am now, and have always been a contemplative aesthetic. I long ago learned how to romance life despite the realities of the every day mundane, ugly, or tragic. I relish the magic of a simple cup of tea and its accompanying array of pleasing aesthetic components - the aromatic steam, the rich color, the heat on my hands, throat and belly, the feel of the cup handle, the sound of the tea kettle whistle or the cup making contact with the dish.
That I choose to capture and share that even if it exists within an otherwise ordinary day is quite the opposite of fake. It is a moment that brought the present into focus through the senses. It is as real as a dirty dish in the sink, only more pleasing (though washing the dishes can be quite pleasing).
To see the beauty in small things, to appreciate the colors and textures of the day, to spot the unusual, the uncanny, the humorous, and the delightful, is a conscious act of romancing life.
Now it's your turn to make something of a cup of tea. Your word for this week's 100 Words writing prompt is: