Dear Social Media, Let’s Just Be Friends

I laid next to my baby as I waited for him to slowly drift off to sleep, excited about what was to come – “me time.” A full hour or so of uninterrupted time and the possibilities were endless! I could eat lunch, tidy up the house, read a good book, catch up on some writing, do a home workout, or go run around in the backyard with the dog.

But first, I’ll just check my social media accounts to see what’s new. Just a couple minutes of catch up time to see what my friends are up to…

I’m shaken back to reality as I hear the baby fussing, signaling the end of his nap. Had it really been a whole hour? Was nap time already done? It couldn’t be so! But a quick look at the clock alerted me that I had indeed just squandered away an entire precious hour scrolling through pictures and captions, stories and “likes.”

I sensed a major shift in my attitude as I got on with the usual post-nap diaper change. My spirits were down and I felt like my life was less exciting than it should be. That one mom is out at the children’s museum with her children today and all I’ve done take my baby on a little neighborhood walk. I’m worried that my child is behind developmentally because that girl on Instagram said her three month old is already crawling! My working mom friends are posting about promotions, clearly excelling in their careers, and here I sit at home in my leggings and messy bun – looking like the opposite of a successful career woman. Worry, worry, more worry, anxiety, comparison, depression.

Ladies and gentlemen, many of us have found ourselves in an unrelenting trap that is sucking away our joyful spirits and dragging us into the depths of comparison. The social media time warp has taken over the homes of many well-meaning women and men, and it’s not only impacting us personally, but the effects are also rippling into our children, our parents, our siblings, and our friends.

While Instagram and Facebook have the potential to be used for such good, when they are not used in moderation, just as with everything in life, the effects are detrimental. Parents are present in their children’s lives but are constantly distracted. Teenagers and adults alike are hyper-focused on taking the perfect picture and getting more and more likes, and even pre-teens can be found wasting away their gifts and talents and instead primarily focusing on maintaining their social media image.

Isn’t is amazing that we can connect with our friends from college who now live all over the world? Or that we can keep up with all the changes in the lives of our extended family members? Or even that we can be having a less-than-ideal day, but see a scripture or quote shared by a friend that gives us the strength to make it through? These are the uplifting and encouraging aspects of social media. Positivity is plentiful in the online world. It can be found scattered everywhere. But the positivity becomes lost when we are over-doing it. I’m what I term a “recovering social media addict” and today I want to share with you how I’ve overcome my obsession with social media and instead have turned it into a positive influence in my life.

  • I only, only, ONLY (no exceptions) log on to social media three days a week. The three days I have chosen are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but I could change it up from week to week. No matter how many notifications I see piling up, or how many pictures I want to share, or how badly I just want to see what everyone is up to, I simply do not break my rule of three day a week use. This alone has been life changing. On the days when I’m using Facebook and Instagram, I immediately notice my mood change if I spend an abundance of time staring at my phone. I’m much more aware of how excessive phone time changes my attitude.
  • I try my best to use the Spirit as a guide on what I post. I never want to post anything that makes someone else feel lesser-than or judged by me. My posts come from a place of love. Sure, I’ll share a picture here and there just because it’s cute (I mean, how could I not share pictures of my excessively cute baby) but I try and focus on what I feel God wants to me share and stick mainly with that. I always try and think about my motive before I post. Ultimately, I try to avoid posting something just because it makes me look cool or will generate a lot of “likes.” These like-hungry posts seem to be the ones that bring on comparison and jealousy.
  • If I find myself becoming irritated because someone around me is “interrupting” my social media time, it’s time to check out! No more social media until I’ve given my son, husband, dog, or whoever my full loving attention. Facebook and Instagram should be at the bottom of the totem pole. Someone to be loved always comes before a picture to be posted.
  • Last but not least, I had to weed out my friends list. Now, I’m not saying this to be mean. But for your own mental well-being, you need to remove people you follow who tend to make you feel negative feelings. I found myself unfollowing quite a few “influencers” on Instagram, and it was like a breath of relief. Are they bad people? Absolutely not! But, by fault of my own, I was interpreting their perfect posts to mean that they had perfect lives, and the comparison was killing me. Only follow people who you genuinely love to see post.

I hope you know I’m not sitting here on my high horse trying to preach to you about social media use. I debated even putting this out there, as I don’t want to appear like a know-it-all or judge-y. But friends, this is a plague that needs to be talked about. Now that I’ve found myself mostly on the other side of the addiction, I feel compelled to share how much it has changed my life for the better.

Since I cut back on social media a couple of months ago, I’ve read over ten books. TEN BOOKS! I’ve always loved reading but lost the passion when social media took its place. I’ve also done an immense amount of writing, spent more time playing with my son, focused more on quality time with my husband in the evenings once the baby is asleep, and have just been an overall much more productive and happy human being.

The pictures, the captions, the likes, and the connection that the internet brings us is a welcome novelty of the day and age we live in, but it should not be a staple of our lives. The people you love, the good that you do, and the kindness you spread will bring you much more fulfillment than being “Instagram famous.” So snap the cute picture, share the caption of what’s on your heart, and don’t even worry about the “likes” that may come. God wants us to use social media for good, but this is impossible if we always have our nose in our phones and are ignoring His messages to us. I challenge you to limit your social media for one week. Just one week! See how you feel, see how your perspective changes, see how your overall happiness elevates, and decide if you too have turned into a social media addict like I once was.

Hey social media, I can no longer be in a full blown committed relationship with you. Let’s just be friends.

One Reply to “Dear Social Media, Let’s Just Be Friends”

  1. Another great post, Ellie. I did a week-long social media fast recently and I came out of the other side realizing I needed it far less than I was using it. Great advice coming from such a young and wise person. Way to go!

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