Making Peace with Social Media– a follow up to Lent
So yesterday I was standing in the checkout line at Barnes & Noble with Blake and Collins. I brushed through my hair with my hand and felt a piece of food (normal), so I went back to pick it out only to find a living, tiny, CRAWLING bug. Needless to say, I flung it away from me with a super-human quickness with a gasp that thankfully didn’t turn too many heads. I would like to think a guy would have reacted the same way. In fact, I’m quite certain any person with a normal tolerance of hygiene would say this a completely normal and understood reaction. Where had this bug come from? How long had it been there??
This has little to do with what I have to say…I just thought I’d digress before even getting started.
After I posted my blog on Lent, I decided to also limit social media for the next 46 days. While I could still access it on my computer when I had free time (aka when I wanted to procrastinate from other things during nap time and at night), I took Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter off of my phone. Twitter wasn’t hard—I like the challenge of a witty post with only so many characters and reading what witty and intelligent things others have to say, but I wasn’t bothered leaving it behind. Pinterest has rarely been one of my activities since Collins was born. I just didn’t feel like being a new mom mixed well with an overwhelming amount of information on how to be perfect in every facet of life. Can I get an amen? Facebook and Instagram were harder. You can only post things to Instagram by phone so I basically checked out of the picture world. Some of you may have missed seeing pictures of Collins almost as much I missed sharing them, and some of you may have missed my Lent post and praised the heavens that I’d turned a new leaf and stopped posting so much. Alas, I’m back. The first three days of being nearly Facebook-less were the hardest—just ask the other addicts of similar poisons like coffee, sugar, and marijuana. Just kidding….it took my system at least five days to chill out from marijuana. (Are you wondering if I’m kidding?….I am. #hugsnotdrugs) The truth is that while there were moments of lull when I didn’t know what to do with my hands, I was almost immediately relieved to find a break—both from Facebook and my phone. There were even times I didn’t know where my phone was—perish the thought.
Here are a few things I learned from my almost-always break from social media:
1. I don’t find myself comparing nearly as much.
People, primarily females, are constantly comparing. We compare our bodies, our daily lives (or what is perceived to be our daily lives), our families, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our achievements. We are either left feeling righteous because we feel better or left feeling unworthy because we feel lesser. This began when sin entered the world, but social media has magnified it by about a million percent (Example: middle school girl drama). Taking away social media didn’t cure me, but it benefitted me greatly. I felt a lot freer to just be me—or maybe I should say I felt free to continue the discovery of who I am. (Let me just take a moment to apologize for being that person who used to post pictures of all the meals I made. I was new to the cooking world when Blake and I got married, and I may have gotten a little too excited sometimes. If I ever made you feel less than me because I posted the picture of the one pancake out of seven I flipped perfectly, I apologize. I prefer to just eat my food instead of taking pictures of it now. Thank you to the person, who wishes to remain anonymous, for sending me to therapy.)
2. I pay attention to the person in front of me.
You know those commercials and viral videos that show a bunch of scenarios with people glued to their phone instead of the person they’re with? (If not, here’s one: sad). I feel like we watch them critically, thinking it’s so sad when people do that and maybe even challenging ourselves to be better—but then we keep at it. We are always on our phones—or iPad—or laptop. Even if we are semi-focused on our person, when a text comes in, how hard is it not to break your conversation so you can tune into another one that’s probably a lot less important? I can be so terrible about this—especially with Blake. I have this comfortable idea that he’s always there so it’s okay if I take a second (or a few minutes) to interrupt our time. What does this say about my view of our relationship? It doesn’t say we’re just that comfortable with each other. It says I don’t value our time or appreciate what he has to say. (Side note: It’s funny that I say I feel like Blake is always around because nearly every Monday morning, you can practically find me clinging to his leg begging him not to go to work because I fear I’ve forgotten how to care for our baby by myself. Somehow, we always make it.)
3. I don’t feel falsely connected to people.
This has been harder since moving to Forney (“Land of Tiny Trees” is its Indian name) and becoming a stay-at-home mom. Obviously, I can tell the difference between actual conversations and learning news about someone via Facebook, but sometimes when face-to-face isn’t an option, social media can seem like the next best thing. And I’m not trying to bash Facebook (more on that later), but it can make you feel like you’re connected to people when you’re really not. I think that’s how we tend to confuse what a person’s daily life looks like when it’s actually the daily highlights of their life. Seeing that a past co-worker went on a weekend getaway with her husband does not mean her marriage is even close to perfect. Seeing your friend post pictures of her beautifully matched children or a picture of her tiny self posed with a giant cupcake and the hashtag #ieatwhatiwant says nothing of her personal struggles. Social media lets us soften the roughest of days, and if that’s the main way we connect with people, it keeps us from getting close to anyone. (Don’t take this to mean I think we should vent and post whiny statuses on Facebook. Just don’t. Call someone you love to talk it out—they will either shower you with love or tell you to get over yourself….with love, of course.)
4. Life is simpler.
Simply put, without social media, I was exposed to less. I was spared articles with titles like, If You Really Loved Your Children, You Wouldn’t Feed Them Chicken Nuggets… or anything not plant-based. I didn’t feel the need to go to the zoo because it was a gorgeous day outside and everyone else posted pictures of taking their kids to the zoo. If I worked out, I did it for the benefit of my body and not because of a sponsored page showcasing Kate Middleton’s perfectly toned body six weeks after giving life to an heir to the royal throne. And to be honest, instead of the excruciating mental decision to open Facebook or pick up a book, for the last 46 days, I simply always picked up a book because social media wasn’t an option.
Okay…so despite what you may be thinking right now, I’m really not trying to bash social media. It can useful in a lot of ways. I’ve discovered most of my favorite authors via social media. It’s how I keep up with their blogs and news. I enjoy seeing people’s pictures and tidbits about their lives that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. Social media can promote a lot of learning about various subjects—it just depends what pages you fill your newsfeed with and who you are friends with. For instance, if it is impossible for you to stay up late like me but you want a good laugh, just follow The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Guaranteed good laughs…and you will begin wondering for the first time who you can convince to play Russian roulette using eggs with you. It’s a terrific use of time. Promise.
Sometimes we need a break from things—even good things. Fasting presents the chance to clear your head, step back for a moment, gain new perspective, and breathe. This fast from social media has been just that for me—a chance to see what I want to get out of it and what I don’t need to try to get out of it. I’m good with using it to share and see what true friends are up to. I’m good with using it to find helpful articles and promote my own little blog. I’m good with finding some fun moments of entertainment. What I’m not good with is using it to compare lives, see how many likes or comments I can gain, letting what others post make me negative, or letting it take away from real life that is happening right in front of me. I’m happy to be back to the world of pictures and book of faces, but hopefully I’ll know if and when I need to step back again.
Can I just add one more thing? We can choose to fast from something anytime of year. I’m looking forward to doing a tiny 3-day juice cleanse next month. This particular fast, though, was for Lent—the 46-day period leading us to Easter, today. This fast was meant to not only water my soul, but most importantly to turn my attention to God. Can I ask you something? Jesus-follower or not, do you ever feel something missing? An unsatisfaction? Maybe your life is great or maybe it’s really not, but regardless, you just don’t feel like you’re really making it at this whole life thing? Can I suggest that you just try letting Jesus fill it? Just try letting His love fill your heart and see what happens? Say an honest prayer. Find a Bible and open it to John. Listen to one of the songs I’ve listed below. Talk to someone you trust who knows and loves Him. Just try letting Him doctor your soul for a little while. It’s what Easter is all about—the beginning of His grace…the start of His Spirit wooing our hearts with the strongest form of love.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
“My heart will sing no other name…Jesus, Jesus.”
–Forever Reign, Hillsong
Oceans by Hillsong
Faint Not by Jenny and Tyler
Brokenness Aside by All Sons and Daughters
Jesus is Better by Austin Stone
Letting Go by Bethel Music
As Sure as the Sun by Ellie Holcomb
Carry Me by Jenny and Tyler
How He Loves by Jeremy Riddle