When I was a kid it was only advertisers that sold to us. Burger King told us we could “have it your way!” and Coke said we should have their product with a smile. Now, not only do we have ads on television, the internet and on our phone screens, but we sell our lives to each other via FaceBook and Instagram. We may not feel like we are selling to each other when we share photos of our green juice or our smiling children jumping in to a pile of leaves, but we sure do fuss over our filters and crop out that pile of dirty dishes – as if we were creating an ad in a magazine not just posting a “candid” shot of our everyday life.
Nothing brings this home for me more than the mason jar. I’m old enough to remember when drinking out of a jelly glass didn’t mean you were hip, it meant you were poor. If a restaurant brought you your drink in a jar in the 70’s, you would have thought their dishwasher had quit for the night and you probably would have declined to drink out of it. No bride in the 80’s was going to put wildflowers in grandma’s old jam jars on her reception tables instead of shiny new “dusty pink” or “frosted purple” plastic vases.
I think our current trend for loving well-worn things is awesome. I am all for using and re-using simple and beautiful old things that have a few nicks and bruises to show some character. But I don’t remember ever seeing a commercial or an ad from the companies that make mason jars. There were no Super Bowl ads for the Pinterest board that shared 100 layered salads you could make in a mason jar. We sold this trend to each other.
Our FaceBook and Instagrams feeds are filled with other people’s lives, carefully cropped and filtered, just like the picture I cropped and staged for the top of this post. Sometimes you have to pause from scrolling through other people’s lives to figure out how you want to live your own. Maybe you don’t like drinking out of mason jars. Maybe you prefer your flowers in crystal vases or mid-century stoneware. Maybe layered salads give you gas.
Sometimes the only way to create the life that you want to live is to stop looking over the shoulder of your neighbor, eyes on your own page, hoe your own row, choose your own adventure.
We get one shot at this life, there’s no sense wasting it feeling peer pressured by someone else’s mason jar.