Developing a Healthy Relationship With Social Media
One comment that I have heard countless times over the last decade is something along the lines of “social media is becoming the death of society”.
I mean, that sounds a little dramatic to me, but I get it. I know. People don’t like change, and although social media has been pretty prevalent in the last ten years, in the grand scheme of things it is still very new. It is certainly changing our society as a whole, that’s for sure.
But is it really changing society for the worse? Some people will whole-heartedly say, “Yes, absolutely”. I, on the other hand, have a contradictory view in that I truly believe social media, when used in a healthy manner, can benefit us.
Think about it, we need to have a healthy relationship with everything in order for it to benefit us. We need to have a healthy relationship with food in order to fuel our body correctly. We need to have a healthy relationship with money so we’re not wasting it on unnecessary things or going into credit card debt. Like many things, you need a stable, healthy relationship with social media too.
Trust me, I know there are issues with social media. That is because it is still fairly new and we have to learn how to live and adapt in a world with social media just like we have had to do with everything else in life. But, you know what? When cars were first invented and there were no roads for them to drive on safely, it was chaotic. There were no rules and there were tons of accidents. Like the invention of anything, social media will get better when we realize it’s not going away and we just need to utilize it correctly.
So what does a healthy relationship with social media look like?
It means you are NOT comparing yourself to others.
Easier said than done, right? Think about it though. When you were in high school you were forced to sit in these classes with people that you possibly compared yourself to. Let’s just say you wanted Veronica’s outfit or maybe you were jealous of the party she was throwing at her house on Friday night that you weren’t invited to. In the real world, you may compare yourself, or feel left out. Guess what? Social media doesn’t have to do that to you. The best part about social media is that if you find yourself getting jealous or comparing yourself to the Veronica’s of the world you actually have the opportunity to unfollow, block, mute, or close out your screen to them.
I used to find myself comparing my life to others on social media. Being jealous of others outfits, their skinny legs, or their beautiful kitchens that I could only dream of having. I realized certain accounts made me feel insecure or wanting more, but it was no fault of their own. They were posting these photos because it made them feel pretty, confident or proud. So instead of continually seeing these photos and feeling a sense of jealousy, I simply unfollowed them. What was the point of following an account that made me feel upset?
The comparison game is a touchy subject, and sometimes it’s hard not to subconsciously compare ourselves to others. But the more we shut out what makes us insecure or upset, it leaves more room for what inspires us or truly makes us happy. I realized some of my absolute favorite Instagram accounts were ones that shared bright, colorful photos, inspirational stories about how tough motherhood can be, and just some of my favorite friends and family’s personal accounts. It’s important to remember that one of the perks of social media is that you are in control of who you follow, so find what intrigues you and makes you feel good about yourself instead of scrolling through an unhappy mess of pictures.
Living in the Real-Life Moments
Another way I maintain a healthy relationship with social media is sharing most of my content at the end of the day. I used to think when I had something going on I should instantly post it to social media so everyone knew what I was doing in real time.
But, I mean… why? Why does it matter if I posted about going to the beach at 1:27 PM or posting about it before I went to bed at night? The answer is, it doesn’t. In fact, it doesn’t even really matter if I post it at all because let’s face it, it’s just social media. Nevertheless, another aspect that has truly helped with my healthy relationship with social media is living in the real-life moment I am in. It’s fine if you want to post every detail of your life on social media. It’s your account, so if it makes you happy, post away! Just don’t forget to enjoy the moments you are in without feeling the pressure to instantly post to social media.
Being Online and Offline Around Your Kids
In this day and age, the word “screentime” now involves our children as well as ourselves. Some parents limit their child’s screentime involving TV, video games, iPads, phones, and more. As a parent, I see nothing wrong with this because part of me has that good old fashioned “kids should play outside more” mentality.
BUT (you knew that was coming, right?), I also think it’s important for children to see how much technology can do for us, and how often it is used in the modern day world. Our children are digital children that will have known nothing but technology in their lifetime, and it is 100% our responsibility to teach them how to use it appropriately.
Sometimes as my two-year-old daughter sits with me on the couch and we watch Frozen for the 847th time, I scroll through Instagram. She might watch as I look at different pictures and sometimes she will even comment and say things like, “Oh, puppy!” or “Aww, cute baby!”. She sees that social media can simply be a visual form to share our lives with one another. I don’t feel the need to hide that from her, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Realizing the Amazing Way it Can Connect People
Before I was lucky enough to be blessed with my two beautiful daughters I experienced a miscarriage. It was a very unique situation, though. I learned I was pregnant after I had already miscarried the baby.
I could tell something was off with my whole body, and just to be sure I went to the doctor. Sure enough, they found out that I had in fact been pregnant, but I had lost the baby a few days before. I learned I was pregnant and lost the baby all in one moment.
I was sad, but also felt strange. The whole situation happened so fast, and I was more surprised than anything.
When I shared with friends and family that I had a miscarriage they were extremely supportive and kind. A few people even shared their experiences, their mother’s, their sister’s, etc. Every single time an experience was shared with me it seemed so much worse than mine. People losing the baby weeks after they learned they were pregnant, or even losing the baby right before birth. I could not relate to this because I had never even taken a pregnancy test at this point. I kept thinking to myself, “you shouldn’t be so upset because you didn’t even know you were pregnant”.
About a month later I stumbled upon a post on Instagram from a woman in San Diego who had gone through the same exact experience as me. The words in her post stated, “it’s okay to be sad about losing a baby that you didn’t even know existed because that baby’s little heart was beating inside of you even if it was for a short amount of time”. Instantly those words made me cry uncontrollably. Partially because of the reminder of the miscarriage, but partially because someone across the country, whom I had never met had experienced the same exact situation I had gone through. It felt so good to know I wasn’t alone, and that it was okay to feel sad about losing a baby I had didn’t even know existed. There were also at least a dozen other women who commented on this post saying they went through a very similar situation. Women who I would never have come into contact with if it wasn’t for social media.
I’m not saying social media is perfect. I’m not saying it’s a fix for all things. I’m not arguing that we need to embrace all things digital, and I’m certainly not telling you to use it more than you do at this moment.
What I am saying is try to use social media in a positive way. Make sure that your social media platforms bring you joy and not discontent. Don’t forget how amazing this tool can actually be, and how it can truly connect humans of all shapes in sizes.
In a world that sometimes seems to be full of hatred, violence and arguments let’s use social media to find our tribe, inspire others, and associate ourselves with like-minded individuals whether they be a minute away, or a million miles away.