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LFM Podcast 013: Don’t compare your life with someone’s “lowlight” reel

Welcome to Episode 013 of the Love from Mim podcast.

Do mothers need wine?

The #mummywinetime memes, videos and posts in our social media feeds are at an all-time high.

Most social-scrollers can happily take them with a grain of salt and swipe on by. But what about those who are actually struggling with a potentially dangerous relationship with alcohol?

And it is the responsibility of the social poster, or the content consumer, to be more mindful of the messaging?

In this episode, I share what I think (if you hadn’t already guessed).

Thanks for listening.

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Transcript

Hey, this is Mim Jenkinson and welcome to Love from Mim, a podcast for candid chats about love, life, and positive habits. You are so welcome!

Hello, and how are you going? Welcome back and hope you’re doing really well right now. I wanted to have a chat today about something that has been on my mind quite a lot lately. You may have recently watched a video from my Instagram page and this is what it is a part of. But you know the phrase, don’t compare your life to someone’s showreel or highlight reel? So, essentially they’re talking about looking at someone’s “Instagram perfect” or “Pinterest perfect” life. Maybe they have a pristine home or they’re always going on amazing holidays or perhaps their body or they have the latest hair or fashion.

When we look at those people and think, “Wow, I’d love to have that life,” but maybe behind the scenes, all isn’t as it seems. What’s the other phrase about don’t compare your first chapter to someone else’s book? Oh gosh! I think I’ve stuffed that one up. But you know what I’m saying, don’t you? It’s very easy to look at a flat image on social media or a really happy, positive video and assume that that person has an awesome life, but we don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. So much now, people are being a lot more candid about what is actually happening behind the scenes, and we just wisening up, aren’t we?

We more savvy though to what might be going on and gone are the days where we want to see those perfect images. In fact, these days, there are a lot more candid shots and candid shares and honest and vulnerable as this trend sweeping the planet thankfully because of Brené Brown and others like her who speak about courage and vulnerability and the power of sharing those things and how it brings people to us because we want to relate to people just like us and people who are facing the same struggles. But the reason I’ve called this episode, Don’t Compare Your Life to Someone Else’s Lowlight Reel, which is a little bit sarcastic I suppose, is because there seems to be another wave sweeping the socials at the moment and I am highly sensitive to it.

You may not be, but I am. And it’s this kind of trend of the whole “mummy wine time”, “wine o’clock”, “the answer to every question is alcohol”. And not just a glass, but drinking to excess. And I’m seeing a lot of videos and posts and comments from some really high profile women, some who I really like and respect as well, who are sharing these videos and conversations about how the solution to everything in life, whether it’s motherhood or mental health issues or what’s happening in lockdown and COVID and all sorts of different things that we’re all experiencing, the solution is alcohol, but drinking to access.

I’ve seen videos of people hiding alcohol pretending it’s a soft drink instead. I’ve seen videos of people dancing in the kitchen looking like they’re getting wasted drinking tequila while their kids look on. All those things I would have found hilarious a couple of years ago. You may have already seen my video talking about this on Instagram, but the reason I would have found it hilarious is because at that point I was struggling with a very unhealthy alcohol habit. I was drinking way too much, way too often. You may have read my book, Less Wine More Time. You may have been following me and know about my story because I have shared it very candidly.

But I would have loved those kinds of videos because to me at being in the minority who couldn’t just scroll by and accept that it was a bit of fun and move on, I would have seen that as, well, everyone else is doing it, therefore my behavior is okay. Except for me, and I can only speak of myself, it wasn’t okay. I was drinking too much, too often, it was having a negative impact on my physical and mental health. Thankfully, I took the steps to actually make some changes with that. If I hadn’t, well, I don’t really like to think about where that may have led me. Taking personal responsibility, which is what I must do and what we all must do, I can choose to ignore those posts.

I can choose to unfollow those people. I can choose to try and take it with a pinch of salt. But when I was at my worst and when I was really down in the depths of feeling so vulnerable and out of control, I just lost my grip to have this picture painted to me that everyone else was drinking made it okay for me. That was how I translated it. I don’t think that is the intention for anyone who is sharing those memes and videos and posts. I really don’t. They’re not putting their hands up to say, “I’m a role model, follow me.” I guess I just wish that people had more of an awareness that for maybe the 1% of people who consume that content, it can actually have a really negative impact.

Now, again, we all need to take responsibility for how we translate anything we see in life. We all have choice, we all able to make decisions for ourselves and our bodies and our families and so on. But yeah, looking at these images, it really did make me think that everyone else was doing it. Now, again, hands up, and I’ve said this before I shared and created some of those kinds of posts myself. I’ve chosen not to delete some of them because I want you to see that I’m not painting myself as being perfect either. And I’ll tell you, when I was making those posts, personally, I wasn’t thinking of how that might have a negative impact on anybody else. I wasn’t thinking that either.

I was really just trying to, I suppose, make people laugh because at the time I thought it was funny. It justified my actions because what I was doing was actually really unhealthy and it made me feel so much better when I had liked or shared those memes or made my own and other people commented on and to say, “Ha ha, me too. It’s hilarious. Cheers.” Now I see it in a much different way and I am probably so much more sensitive to some people, but I’m just sick to death of all of this incessant chatter that we’re all drinking to excess because we’re not. Some of us, like me, were, some of us are really, really struggling and can’t voice that to other people and maybe don’t even want to admit to ourselves that we’re having an issue.

But not everyone is drinking to excess. Not everyone is drinking away their problems. If you took everything that was on social media as red, if you look to all of these, and I jokingly call it lowlight reels, because it’s the opposite of the Pinterest perfect homes and lives. If you assumed that that was actually how people were living their lives and we’re all doing it, that wouldn’t leave for a very healthy population. I hate to think that somebody would see that in the way that I did, which was essentially, permission. And I only saw that afterwards. I didn’t actually make the conscious choice of, “Oh, look, she’s drinking loads of wine. I’m going to go home and drink loads of wine.” That’s not what I’m saying.

But it did lead me to think that everyone else was doing it so it was okay. It wasn’t, obviously. So the reason I called the episode, Don’t Compare Your Life to Someone Else’s Lowlight Reel, is because I see the trend has flipped. So people are not really sharing those Pinterest perfect, Instagram-worthy images anymore where you see perfect lives and perfect homes. I mean, there’s still some of that, but the trend seems to have changed where people want to show who we think they really are and the vulnerability and the joking about how their house is a mess and they haven’t been the best parent today and they’re drinking a lot of wine and a lot of coffee, like coffee by day and wine by night.

And for 99% of people, it’s just a bit of fun, isn’t it? And you can have a look at those images and move on. But I would like people, I guess, to be more aware, if you’re sharing that kind of stuff, how the minority are really struggling and isn’t okay for them. It wasn’t okay for me. And yeah, I think I’m really sensitive to those kinds of images. And I won’t be sharing any myself obviously, and I won’t necessarily be on following people who do share that kind of thing. But I just wanted to open the conversation up today to see how you feel about it. And I’m sure for most people, you would look at those kinds of posts and scroll on because it doesn’t affect you.

You don’t associate with drinking to access, you’re not having a negative reaction. It’s a bit of fun, which for most people it is, and you probably move on. But for me, I guess I am very sensitive to it and I wish that there was a little bit more consideration about what we’re actually showing on social media and the impact that is going to have potentially on other people. But I also know that I’m not alone, and when I was writing my book, I surveyed 1,000 mothers and asked them about their relationship with alcohol. And one of the questions related to the social media portrayal of mums needing wine… Apparently we need it. Mommy needs wine, mommy wine time, wine o’clock, all of the different hashtags and memes and posts and how they felt about it.

And hundreds of them told me that they were sick to death of it as well and it was a trend that they were not getting involved in and they really felt that so many of the big websites and brands actually pushed that message as well. So it wasn’t just coming from bloggers and Instagrammers and other people on… and even celebrities on social media, but even brands and major websites and new sites were getting in on this as well. And I see it constantly now. I find it sad, but I know I’m not alone in this opinion and I know that having actually taken the time to conduct this survey, so many others are just had enough of it as well. So again, we’re all responsible for ourselves.

I am responsible for myself and I’m responsible for how I translate what other people are showing me and how I consume their posts and conversations. But at the same time, I also want to take responsibility as well for the mistakes that I’ve made in the past. I wish I hadn’t shared the content I had, I wish I hadn’t created it. I understand why I did it, but now, if I knew that that was having a detrimental effect on even one person, if I’d known that in advance, I wouldn’t have done it. Anyway, I’ll be really interested to know your thoughts. Perhaps you’re not as sensitive to this as I am, maybe you are, maybe you’re sick of it too.

Maybe you’d like to see something that is vulnerable and is open and is honest, but at the same time, isn’t just there for the laughs and the likes when actually it’s tackling a really potentially dangerous topic of alcohol abuse. Anyway, that’s my ramble for today. Let me know if this hits home with any of you. I’d love to know your thoughts. I’m still feeling my way with talking about this openly myself. I am very open to hear what your opinion is either way, perhaps you agree or disagree. Let me know. Send me a message on social media because I’d love to know what you think about the whole thing. Thank you again for listening. I hope you are doing so well right now. I’m sending you lots of love.

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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land I work and live on, the Awabakal peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
I thank them wholeheartedly and express my love and gratitude for the privilege to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world and for the opportunity for my family to be part of this vibrant and supportive community.