I woke up one morning a few weeks ago with the realization that I had to change my toxic relationship with social media. For many of us it goes something like this. You wake up, open your social media apps one after the other while sitting on the toilet and you say to yourself, “wow! Why can’t I have friends like that?” “She’s in Bali? Didn’t she JUST come back from ……?” “How come my wife doesn’t cook me these amazing gourmet spreads every day?” “Why isn’t my child making the top 10 lists at school?” “Why don’t I have the creative talent to take such cool pictures?”
And all of a sudden, there is this distinct feeling of inadequacy and the fear of missing out. What is it about social media and seeing other peoples’ lives makes us so sad? I know several people who have cut ties with it totally because they’ve recognized it’s not good for their psyche and so, didn’t bother to log on anymore.
I’ve struggled with this, and I know many of you have as well. When you really think about it, imagine peering into someone else’s perfect life day in day out for hours on end while comparing your, you know, very normal and mundane one. Depending on your personality and view on life, this can send you into a state of major envy, jealousy, sadness and despair. You look at your life and suddenly, it’s just not good enough.
Studies suggest that we check our phones on average 150 times a day and of all the time we spend online, 30% of it is dedicated to social media. It’s no wonder we walk around feeling like absolute losers! If it’s not that, we think the world is definitely coming to an end due to all the bad news permeating our mind through our mini screens.
While having this fester in my mind a bit, I have come to the conclusion that the lives we see on social media, is similar to that of reality TV. It just isn’t real. These are not the ‘real’ lives of the people you know and follow.
To prove this, I need not go far as my very own social media persona is testament. When I peer into my online life as an outsider, I appear to be someone who is either always traveling, lounging on the beach, spending tons of money on makeup and skincare, attending tea parties to no end or is forever in the company of my perfect, doting husband.
Never do you see the many hours I spend at my desk in the office, the entire days (and sometimes entire weekends) I laze around in pajamas eating greasy Chinese food while watching reruns of Bob’s Burgers. What about the times when my anxiety takes over my entire being? I rarely, if ever, post anything about my insecurities, my fears about life or my family problems. There are also great things that I experience or acquire, that I don’t share. People generally build their online narrative and more times than not, it’s not a true representation of their actual lives.
Social media can be a dangerous thing if we don’t manage our relationship with it. We live in the digital age and there is no doubt we’ll be here for a long, long time. That’s why it is so important that we learn to co-exist with it in a healthy and mindful way.
I now look at social media as entertainment and as a source of information. If I take it to mean anything else, my whole experience changes, and not for the good. I no longer worry about likes and number of followers and engagement levels. Yes the more the better, especially as a blogger, but in the end, how many of your followers can you call if you’re having a bad day? Not many, if any at all.
My take away from all this ramble is simple. The people and lives you see on Instagram, are not real. The life you show on Instagram, FB etc, is not real. Even the life of your neighbor’s perfectly groomed and always walked dog isn’t real. But what can we do to circumvent our skewed perception of online reality? The best I can think of, is to realize that it’s here to entertain us and maybe provide some insight, not to stress, define and change us.
What do you think about your relationship with social media? Is it a good one?
Thanks for stopping by!
P.S ~ Why Are You So Obsessed With My Weight? and Are You Living Out your Childhood Dreams?
(Photo by Pexels)
Published: January 18, 2018 6:00 AM