Social Media…I Love You and I Hate You

On Monday, my attitude could most accurately be described as “sunshine”. Did you roll your eyes? I’m being serious, though. I started my day with 507 things to do and I was excited to get to work. This was a complete 180 from my attitude before Spring Break. I really think I was stuck in such a funk! I like to think that I am a person who is very aware. I am aware of other people and their feelings and what is going on. I am also aware of what is happening with me. This is not to say that I’m super emotional all the time, but if something isn’t right, usually I can figure out what it is.

So this funk that I’m speaking of…maybe it was the weight of the beginning of the semester. Maybe it was the weather. I really have no idea what it was! But I knew that there was something in me that was making me feel stressed all of the time and that’s why I couldn’t wait to relax on the couch at the end of the day (or mid-afternoon…or whenever there was time…). Just getting through the day didn’t sound like a way that I wanted to live my life…so I tried to figure out what was making me feel so stressed out. Yes, I had to go to work…yes, I had to go to class…yes, I had homework…but I was still doing things I enjoyed like working out and spending time with friends, so what was the problem?

I’m still not sure if I know, but Lent was approaching and social media was buzzing with what everyone was giving up. It took me a few days, but I finally realized that I wanted to disconnect from social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram because those are the two platforms I use the most. I decided I would continue posting to my Pursuit of Healthiness pages on both Facebook and Instagram, but I was going silent on my personal accounts and there was going to be no scrolling. Why do we spend so much time scrolling? And why did I think this was going to make me so much happier?

The impact that social media has on me is something that I have thought about before. This fall, I realized I was waking up in the morning and immediately reaching for my phone. Granted, I don’t have a clock in my room (I know, could I be any more tech-dependent??), so I do need to know what time it is when I wake up, especially if my alarm is not set. However, I was looking to see what time it was and then checking my messages. That’s fine. Keeping up with my family. I live out of state. That is necessary. But then I was checking Facebook. And Instagram. And Twitter. At which point I would scroll and scroll and scroll. Social media is not the national news. I do not need to know what people are doing at 7 o’clock in the morning. And this seriously delayed the waking up process. I decided I didn’t want to start my day with social media. It is not that important. Enter quiet time. My journal, my Bible, and a daily devotional (Jesus Calling) is on my night stand and THAT is what I spend time doing when I wake up now. That has been going well. But let’s get back to scrolling…

That’s where the problem is. Do I enjoy keeping up with my friends and family and all the other people I follow? Yes, I really do, and I like to post things myself, but there was a part of me that realized scrolling through other people’s lives was not only wasting a great deal of time, it was also making me feel bad about myself. It’s not that we shouldn’t be happy for our friends when we see them post something cool or exciting, but even if you are happy for them, there might still be a little part of you that’s playing the comparison game. I was definitely playing the comparison game with social media. Even if I had the cutest outfit, best workout, heard the most meaningful church sermon, went to the best brunch with friends…I looked at what other people were posting and somehow felt like my day didn’t nearly measure up to theirs.

That is just wrong, my friends.

There’s this stigma surrounding social media that you CAN’T miss out on the most recent posts or you are left out of the loop. If I gave up social media, would I lose touch with everyone I know? Instead of feeling overwhelmed by what everyone else was doing, would I feel overwhelmed and left out?

No. No, I would not.

I would still talk to the people who are important to me. I would look out the window on the bus instead of looking down at my phone. I would make conversation in the elevator (do you find that annoying? Sorry. I became that person!). I would read more books. I would get assignments done days ahead of time instead of the night before. I would blog more. I would make more plans with friends. I would take interest in people…by actually TALKING to them…because I didn’t know what had already happened in their day. And I would notice that the world is actually kind of quiet because even though I wasn’t on my phone…everyone else still was.

The Lenten season has not ended yet but I feel so much happier with myself at this point that I have kind of broken my social media streak of quiet. It started with my baby brother’s birthday…posting my daily meals or workouts is not important but HE IS! If you think about it, we are sharing the best parts of ourselves when we post on social media. We make our lives look all shiny and pretty. But even when we try to “keep it real” and we talk about the fight we had with our mom (please don’t share that with the world) or the endless traffic on the highway, aren’t we still looking for some kind of validation? We want someone to tell us our day isn’t nearly as horrible as it could be, that it will all be okay.

I think I knew all of these things before I went on hiatus, but I seriously needed to hit refresh. I don’t feel like I NEED to see what is going on anymore. I am also more aware of what I am sharing and how I interact with people on social media. I want to share things that are encouraging or interesting. I don’t want to brag or make someone feel like they aren’t good enough. It’s strange how constant contact made me feel stressed and less than…you would think it would be the opposite. That seeing and knowing what was happening would help be feel connected. And I guess in a way, I was connected to others…but I was really disconnected from ME. It’s okay to be selfish about yourself sometimes. I am in a season of life where I feel very selfish because I am working, still in school, living on my own in a new place…I don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s all about me. But really, sometimes it needs to be all about you. Don’t lose yourself in what others are doing because they can’t validate your feelings and you don’t need them to. YOU need to validate YOU. You need to build yourself up. You need to make yourself whole.