Gosh, I REALLY love my phone. I mean, how awesome is it to be able to look up anything you want at any time you want and get an answer in a split second? Or have your favorite songs at the touch of a button, no matter where you are? I love the convenience of sending my hubby a text and knowing he’ll get it…even if he’s in a meeting. And who doesn’t love the time-wasting games at your disposal when you are stuck in a waiting room, school pickup line, or really boring family party? And then there is social media. Wow--when I joined Facebook, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I connected with friends old and new. I loved seeing pictures of everyone’s kids or travels, and being able to keep up a little bit on everyone’s lives. As a stay at home mom, that made it a little less lonely. I felt a tad less isolated, and a bit more connected to people. I found all kinds of awesome bloggers that were so encouraging to someone in my season of life. I realized I wasn’t “alone” in this thing called motherhood. And I was equally happy that I could vent, or share a funny story that might brighten someone’s day. The cherry on top was the distraction it offered me from the mundane days of cooking, cleaning, refereeing, and wiping butts on repeat. I was happily addicted. Well, up until more recently… Then, I realized I was just plain ol’ addicted, but not really happy about it. I started to inquire about what had changed in the past 5 years, and I realized it was quite a bit.
Trying to Keep Up
I realized that I wasn’t that excited to see what was on Facebook anymore, but only felt stressed because I didn’t want to miss something. I had subscribed to so many things that were of interest to me, that I couldn’t keep up. Don’t get me wrong, they are all great things that teach me, encourage me, or make me laugh. However, it got to the point where I could never get to the part of my newsfeed where I last left off. That left me with a little nagging, incomplete feeling. I knew I was missing friends posts because I was too busy reading EVERYTHING ELSE. And then there was the stress from all the articles I didn’t have time to read, or that I said I’d read later. Just the sheer INFORMATION OVERLOAD was starting to take its toll on my brain.
There is also the aspect of social media that I didn’t think affected me. The dark side. The part that makes you feel inferior in some way. I told myself that it didn’t apply to me. Nope, I just LOVE learning and I love seeing what’s going on in other people’s lives. I guess I was a little bit in denial, because I would never want to have to give up the gift that is Facebook.
Most people are putting their best face forward on Facebook. I am guilty. My intention is to try not to post only good stuff, because I really want to keep it real. However, when it comes down to it, you are only going to want to share the good pictures, not the ones with the double chin. You are only going to want to share the funny or cute stories, not the one where you cried in your pillow because your kid acted like an a-hole and you think he might end up in jail one day and it’s all your fault because you didn’t implement 1-2-3 Magic early enough. It just happens.
The problem is, that without realizing it, you start to compare other people’s lives with yours. You see how well-dressed Mary’s kids look all the time. You see how Dick and Jane seem to have date nights all the time. You see how Lucy manages to go to the gym 5 days a week. Or how Tom seems to have all this money to go on vacations all the time. Or how Sally manages to work full time and still has well-behaved kids. Or how in-love Bob and Nancy are. Or how smart Ned seems to be. Or how well decorated and clean Harriet’s house looks, etc, etc, etc. You start to feel as if everyone else has it all together. Their lives look so perfect. “Why can’t my family get along like that?” You start to question and doubt yourself. “Why doesn’t my house look like that?” You start to think your situation should be different. “Why doesn’t my husband do those things for me? “
There is a saying I heard somewhere that says “Don’t compare your everyday life with someone else’s highlight reel.” Or something like that. And that’s exactly what Facebook and Instagram is—your highlight reel.
DistractionWait, I thought the distraction was a good thing? Well, it was, and it can be…sometimes. The distraction can also detract from other important things in our lives. How often do we get lost in our phones and not hear our child or partner asking us something? Or don’t even look up…just say “just a minute.” We have all been guilty of this. Sometimes wasting time is good, but what if we are wasting time that could be spent with our kids, or developing meaningful relationships?
This distraction also saps our productivity. I have found myself caught up in reading articles and blogs for an hour or more sometimes. So what are we neglecting when we are doing this? Doing things we love (instead of just reading about them). Cleaning our houses. Building our businesses. Cooking healthier meals for our families. Connecting with friends and family (in person). You get the idea.
Too Many Opinions and Too Much Information
As I mentioned above, I love learning. I also pride myself on having a pretty open mind. I am able to consider other people’s viewpoints. This is typically a good trait, but it can also be detrimental in some ways. Sometimes, too much of other people’s interests and beliefs are not in your best interest. Let me explain what I mean. Many people can take in loads of information and viewpoints, and take it all with a grain of salt. They can absorb what information they want, and discard the rest of it. Done. Some people, however (including me), have a harder time doing that. I absorb it all. I soak it up. I save it to re-read later. I want to know it all. “How to organize your entire house and life in 16 easy steps.” “How to be a better parent.” How to be a better partner.” “How to cook only super-healthy organic meals and never eat fast food again.” I want to do it all. I want to be perfect…and that’s a problem. Not only does this lead to some mad chaos in the brain, but it also leads to some serious guilt. No one can do it all. Or read it all. Or follow it all. Or keep up with it all. Or be perfect. I finally realized that all this chaos, and information, and pressure, was not in my best interest. I unsubscribed from everything that was not a true, positive, major interest for me.
Face it. No one likes to be judged. We judge ourselves enough, so to have someone else do it to us makes us feel the lowest of the low. Facebook can be and is often used as a weapon. We’ve all probably seen those folks that use their comments or posts as a passive-aggressive jab to another person or group of people. It’s so easy to sit behind the protection of a computer screen and pass a semi-cryptic judgement about someone else. It happens ALL.THE. TIME. People share personal information about others. People start rumors about others that can be devastating to someone’s life and family. It’s disheartening. OK, this next part will make me sound like a real hippie… Everyone is on their own path, on their own journey. So why can’t we all love and support one another, no matter what path we are on? Sometimes it’s hard, but we have to understand that many people are guided from a place of fear. Or by deep pain. Many people are operating from a place of abundant knowledge, and some people from a lack thereof. All of us are guided by a love for our children and families. We are all human. My wish is that we can all operate from a place of love and respect for the entire species, and not just our own families. End hippie rant. And that leads me to…
Spreading of Fear and Hatred
Cutting back on the social technology outlets may sound impossible. Though it can be a little uncomfortable at first, it really does end up feeling amazing. I will still post a cute picture of the kids, or something positive here and there, but won’t waste away my days getting caught up in article after article...or stewing for 8 hours about something someone posted. If I need to find something, I’ll go to and find it. I won’t browse for 2 hours and feel guilty about all these Pinterest-y projects I never got around to. I feel a sense of freedom from the Facebook shackles. I’m more productive. I’m giving the kids more of my undivided attention. I’m feeling better about myself. And best of all, I’m feeling a lot less guilt. And guess what? I don’t really miss it. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win.
If you're feeling like I was, why not give it a try?
Life is good.