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These pictures are my favorite things on this frigid Monday morning.

They radiate warmth and ooze joy.  They are crusted over with delicious bits of happiness like the brownies edges you see here.

I have been considering lately the carefully crafted being that is an internet presence.  Recently, several of my mother’s relatives – all in their late 50s – have signed onto Facebook, and since I am the next generation of kin for them, we have become connected as friends.  My identity on Facebook is calculated to inspire the sort of vague assertion that I am both witty but just a bit silly, that I am both mysterious and cultured, that I drink only from Mason jars and eat desserts for most of my daylight hours, yet keep my figure because I am just One of Those Girls.  I rarely post status updates if they are not passages from a novel of some sort, and my photos are hand-picked to show off my (limited) photography skills.  I have had people from home tell me that I look like I am having “just so much fun” in New York, based on what they can see of my photos, and yes, I am. But this is also the very thing that I have decided people will know about me.

It’s a little exhausting.  But only exhausting if I consider it too deeply; I think that for those of us who grew up with Myspace or Facebook, who came into young adulthood understanding Twitter and who have latched on to Instagram most passionately, the cultivation of an internet identity is second nature.  I know that I am behind a screen typing this and you are reading it, but I am only telling you what I want you to know about me.  In this way I sway you to believe one thing or another about me.  It is calculated.

My mother’s relatives, meanwhile, have an entirely different approach to Facebook.  They treat it as something of a journal; their internet identity lies behind a glass window through which their friends are invited to peek.  They encourage unashamed voyeurism.  There are no smokescreens, no artful clouding of reality through smiling photos.  They are who they are, nothing less.  This seems to be because they have never had to pretend to be someone else for the prying eye of the general internet public; this is not something they learned as they went to school.  (I almost called this a skill, but I am not sure it is a skill in the positive sense).

This lack of concealment has me questioning the ways I have come to accept and encourage the opposite in my own life.  And it isn’t that I would somehow like for my internet presence suddenly to be so casually revealing.  But I have become more aware of the photos and the words that I use to describe myself.  And I have to say that these particular photos of me, from an impromptu shoot held in the lull between making these brownies and waiting for them to emerge from the oven, allow me to tell you that I am happiest with my friends in the kitchen.

That is a very real part of who I am.  It is not the only part but it is one that matters on this Monday morning.

And for however crafted these pictures may be, there is an honesty in the crafting.  And I think that counts for a lot.

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