If you have ever felt like social media was actually pulling you down, instead of simply being a fun, cool, and practical tool (as it was meant to be), then read on, my fellow social media addict! And if social media has never made you feel discontent, then you can probably skip reading this article.
Relationship Status? It’s Complicated
The first time I got on Facebook years go, I was enthralled from the get-go. It was an easy way to stay in touch with long distance friends and overseas contacts. It also gave me a sense of connection to others during the long work week. Finally, I got to travel vicariously (and for free) to other countries through the videos and photos of people I followed. Bottom line? Facebook had its definite perks, baby. Like double espresso perky.
Then, as time passed, I noticed something funny. Every time I logged on, I would see that so-and-so was on an exotic trip living the high life, that Suzy got an amazing job and her own apartment, and Johnny Smith had met the love of his life. Soon I realized I was feeling incredibly discontent. Why? I was seeing only one dimension of the reality of other people’s lives. I was comparing my ho-hum, everyday life with other people’s “amazing” online lives!
Plus, I started putting all this time into managing my online presence, and grooming my profile to portray myself in the absolute best light. You know, things like: I was “well-read” because of all these books I consumed; I was “well traveled” because of these countries I had been to, etc. I cared too much about how I was being perceived, and wanted to create a certain image (of which I was even a little unclear on….).
Now for many, many, many of my closest friends, they could log on to Facebook and easily realize that it was not reality. But for whatever reason, Facebook still made me feel discontent. Like, I need to go do that run of the bulls thing in Spain, dance on the Great Wall of China, or do something legit with my little life, you know??
Eventually, I knew I had to do something, so I made a compromise. First, I took a hiatus from Facebook for several years (I know – a bit drastic). When I reactivated my account, I had to set some guidelines. For example, sometimes I delete the app from my phone and go for awhile without having easy access. Why? Then I am less liable to waste time on it, especially in the morning when I have my quiet time. I know of one girlfriend who chooses to be on just one social media platform, instead of several. Yet another friend set up specific times of the day when she allows herself to check Facebook. For you, it may be a little different. However, I also know many close friends who can stay logged in all day and be fine.
You just have to know what works for you in not allowing social media to distract you from what is important – for both daily responsibilities and your heart.
Sure, it’s still a temptation now to compare my life with others, but I’ve come to realize that people may depict themselves as “happy” online, but the reality could be the exact opposite.
God Vs. A Photo
For me, the biggest temptation for distraction from my devotional time is social media on my phone. Sometimes I literally have to walk over and put my phone on the other side of the room, out of my reach, and then talk with God. I only say this because I know how prone I am to checking social media like every five minutes on some days just because I am bored, listless, or feeling out of sorts for whatever reason. The simple truth is: I have been known to ignore God in favor of photos or status updates. Sigh. When we actually spell it out like that, doesn’t it sound absurd that I would ignore the Creator of the Universe, the Lover of My Soul, in favor of looking at a photo? But that is exactly what I have done.
Your Secret Crush
And what about that crush of yours? Have you been known to check their page several times a day? Oh, yeah. I have been there. Years ago, there was this guy I liked during the first time I ever got on Facebook, and I would constantly check his page, with routine devotion, just to see what was up. Did he post anything new? La-la! What interests/movies/books did he have? Did we have anything in common? Was this guy compatible with me? Could I date this person? Basically, I was stalking this guy. He had no idea. I had a relationship with him ONLY in my head. Oh, yeah. I will admit it. Minus 100,000 brownie points for me.
Social media can wreak havoc with a girl’s head if she’s not careful. He liked my photo!! What does it mean? (Well…..he liked the photo. That’s it, honey). He didn’t like my post!! What does it mean? (Well . . . don’t take it personally. Does anyone like ALL of your posts anyway? ). He liked this other girl’s video! What does it mean?? (Well, my dear, that he simply liked that other girl’s video).
Now don’t get me wrong, but does everything have to ‘mean something’? For whatever reason, I can overthink and read into things – especially when it comes to someone I may have a ‘spark’ with. When it comes to social media, remember that: (1) it’s not reality, and (2) to not read into anything or take it personally.
Now, let’s finish by saying that social media is truly FUN!! And what about this: It even has the potential to provide material for small talk at church or social events: “Oh, hey, Suzy, I saw that you went to visit your brother in Oregon over the weekend. How was that?” In that sense, social media can even help your in-person people skills. Ohh-la-la!
I’m sure you could probably come up with some more perks. Bottom Line? Just don’t let social media become anything more than the simple, fun tool it was meant to be …. ; )
Please Share: What has social media personally showed you about yourself?