We all do it… sometimes weekly…. usually daily… the mindless social media scroll. Our time to unplug without expectations or responsibilities. A safe, easy way to disconnect from our responsibilities and check in with those we know, and often times those we don’t. Except it is never that easy or safe. In fact, if we are not careful, it may be the most detrimental thing we do all day.
“Social media was a place for witty, satirical comments; stylistic food pics; photos of beautiful homes and children; and birth announcements. It was a place to scroll through to get an idea of where you fared in the world, and figure out whether you were winning or losing at life.”The Family Next Door, Sally Hepworth
Social media is a funny thing. We approach it as though it is an open door into people’s entire lives instead of a small window. We view, judge, and envy them based on what they post in little squares. I am guilty of this, as well. Getting caught up in what people post about themselves is so easy. Their accomplishments, their vacations, their bright and shiny lives. We see all the things they want to share and all the ways they want to show their lives to others.
In the past, I have done the same on my own accounts. We want to showcase all the good things and memorialize them in the social media squares we post. We want others to see the good things about our lives. Those are the things we are comfortable sharing. There is no danger in that. And the truth is, as consumers of social media, I doubt the escape would be as fulfilling if our feeds were filled with negative or difficult topics. The state of the world right now is one of the reasons we turn to social media to “tune out” the noise – to go and see fun, light, uplifting content.
Very few people want to air their grievances, dirty laundry, or hard days for the entire internet to see – and with good reason. There is no reason to invite people into every aspect of our lives and let them know all our struggles. There is no reason to post about the fight we had with our spouse about taking the garbage out or the way it takes double the allotted amount of time to leave the house in the morning. These are private moments that aren’t meant to see the light of day. They are events that are meant to be sorted out in private without a show to the world. However, when we intentionally leave those out of the equation, we present a filtered view of our lives. We present only half of the story.
This is not to say that I think that everyone should post everything about their lives. Some things SHOULD remain private, and not open to the world. We do not have a responsibility to anyone other than ourselves. The purpose is not to share the ins and outs of everything that you do every day. We are not animals in social media cages for everyone else to ogle and point at. I have always wondered this about influencers, who often post so many aspects of their daily lives.
There is a point at which posting about everything leaves little room to actually live your life. We have to be okay to live outside of the camera instead of through it. In an effort to video and photograph our moments and lives, we forget to truly live through them. This is not healthy either, nor does it set a good example for our children.
However, I think that there needs to be a medium, both for creators and consumers of social media. Over the past couple of years, I have tried to be more candid about the struggles I am facing. I have used this blog as a vehicle to share many of those deeper, more honest thoughts. I have also tried to share more on my social media to present more. of a whole picture. There are still things I keep very private and have no interest in sharing with others. If you are in my inner circle, you are privy to that information, but it is not out for the world to see. And that is how I believe it should be. There is also still an element of fear about being judged by others that I m working through. This will never change, but I am beginning with being more open and honest with myself, and I am hopeful that the rest will come. It won’t ever change completely, but perhaps there will be a shift in that direction.
As a consumer, it is more difficult in many ways. Understanding that people only post certain elements of their lives is easy to digest when you are in the mindset to do so. When you are in a positive headspace you can see social media for what it is – a snapshot into others’ lives covered in pretty filters and hashtags. It is a collection of what others want us to see. However, when you are feeling down, doubtful, or anxious, it is more difficult to see it for what it is.
We view it with green eyes and self-doubt. Why are they happy? How do they have everything together? Why are their children so perfect? How can I have what they have? We quickly forget that there is so much going on behind the scenes that aren’t shared because we are already feeling down on ourselves.
I have had numerous conversations about this with my therapist, and how not to fall into that trap. She gave me the best advice on the matter – use the mute button. If they are not serving you, shelf them for a bit. It doesn’t mean that you have to delete those accounts indefinitely, but giving yourself a break from those who are not welcome in your season of life is liberating. I have been trying to change my algorithm by following and interacting with accounts that fill my bucket and my soul. Accounts that are more real, geared towards self-care and daily quotes that fuel my soul. I have also significantly decreased my time on social media in total. I know my sister goes as far as to put a 30-minute timer filter on her phone so it only lets her go on social media for a small period of time per day. She never comes close to that time, but even knowing it’s there is enough for her.
I think, above all, I must close with this: like many topics in this blog, I write about things I am nowhere near perfect at. I share my thoughts because they are relevant to me, and I believe that opening the discussion is the best place to start. I do not share to be preachy or because I have everything together. This is so far from the case. I am struggling with this every day. So let’s try to normalize that what we see and show in our squares is only a piece of the puzzle. It is the view we want to give others. And there is nothing wrong with that AS LONG AS we take it for what it is – a filtered view of reality.
This is life. Love, Mom.