Gina Barreca: The Cheap-Motel Flip Side Of Our Facebook Lives

By Gina Barreca
The Hartford Courant.

Snapshots of people at their most miserable: That’s what you don’t see on Facebook.

But wouldn’t it be fascinating? After all, real life is like seeing the reverse side of a perfectly executed needlepoint: it’s messy, chaotic and it’s often hard to see the big picture.

A friend introduced me to what he calls the Miserable Snapshot Theory of Life.

As people upload daily, sometimes hourly, photographs of fabulous meals, beautiful children and astonishing vacations as evidence of our unimpeachably happy existences, his theory has increased in appeal.

What if, when we were much younger, we could have looked into our future and seen only the most pitiful moments? What would we have done then?

Here’s my pitiful moment:

My husband and I drove across the country. We had a safe car, audiobooks and enough cash to stay indoors. We were ready for adventure. Yes, parts of the trip were Facebook-gleeful: diners with perfectly crisp hash; a local rodeo in Montana; landscapes so stark we wouldn’t have been surprised to see a triceratops walk across the road.

But then there was the night in northern California.

It rained hard all day and driving had been tough. We were going to try to make it further north, but decided around 7 to call it quits. We pulled into a small city and chose a small local motel since the plan was to get some serious sleep and leave early the next day.

Fair enough, right?

OK, so the room was a little worse than usual. For starters, it had a neon orange shag rug that had seen better days as far back as, say, 1972.

The room’s only attempt at decoration consisted of faded clown prints, six of them, fully bolted to the walls, implying that other guests had attempted to steal them.

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