Social media is intended to be a way to stay connected with our friends and family, but is it making us feel more alone? Do we constantly compare our real lives to the heavily edited versions that we present on Facebook or Instagram?
I am guilty of doing this very thing. You won’t see me posting photos of myself on the days I’m surviving on coffee and dry shampoo or updating a status about how I’m cleaning up dog shit off the living room rug. Presenting the shiny, beautiful moments of my life, and omitting the most important (sometimes painful), but real parts of myself and the things that matter the most is the norm for social media. My ego could be inflated and deflated by the amount of ‘likes’ on a Facebook post. No one likes rejection.
The last few months, I’ve conducted a social experiment of sorts. I’ve alternated posting “happy” photos and quotes, on Instagram, with posts that feel more authentic to me, but address serious issues or challenge people’s personal views and beliefs. It’s important to note that none of these posts have been political in nature. The results…not surprisingly, the happy posts get numerous ‘likes’ while the not-so-happy-but-authentic posts might get a like from one or two brave souls, but usually result in the loss of followers. There was a time this would bother me, but now I look at it as a necessary weeding out of people who don’t belong in my life.
Surprisingly, I’ve never been happier since I’ve deleted my Facebook account. No more random messages from ex-boyfriends, or falling down a rabbit hole, wasting hours reading strangers’ posts and feeling mildly annoyed at their small-mindedness (and maybe even my own). I was never able to control the negative effects Facebook had in my life, therefore it had to go.
What’s resulted from this decision, has been nothing short of amazing. The time I spent scrolling aimlessly on Facebook has been replaced with more living. I’m more creative. My days are filled with reading, writing, gardening, taking walks, playing with my dogs, cooking and cleaning while listening to podcasts, rearranging furniture, and lots of yoga. I’m more engaged with my family. Most importantly, I’ve learned to keep most of the beautiful, private moments of my life for myself, and guard my family’s privacy. When I feel disconnected, I pick up the phone and call a loved one, or send a card or letter. In hindsight, I wish I’d done this years ago.
When activities are staged for the purpose of a Facebook photo, and we feel every special moment with our children must be shared for public consumption, and other people’s approval matters more than it should, we need to step back and assess if social media is doing more harm in our lives than good.