Social media. We can’t escape it. People with their nose in their phone, oblivious to the world around them are everywhere. Whether we like it or not, it’s a part of our lives. To what extent is up to you. Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the negative aspects of social media – cutting into family time, cyber-bullying, minimizing (or replacing) human interaction. I’ve been hearing a lot about the desire to curtail “screen time” or purge social media all together. I get it. But I think there may be a way to establish a happy medium. I think it’s not only possible to have a healthy relationship with social media but it can actually be beneficial if you use it the right way.
I love Facebook. Why? Well, I suppose the generic answer is “to keep in touch with family and friends.” But it’s more than that. I mean, sure, I love sharing pics of my boys (Hey everyone! Look at Justus! OMG, he’s eating pizza!). In the past few years, I’ve established connections with people who, had it not been for our online presence, would not likely be a part of my life. I consider these people my friends and although they may not be a part of my physical world, they affect me nonetheless. I look at pictures of my friend Jena’s daughter and smile, noting how she looks more like her big brother every day (I’ve never met Jena). I read an article about a strong, independent woman who reminded me of my brave friend Nicole (I met Nicole once, 6 years ago, for about 3 minutes). When I feel like giving up, I think about what my friend Heather has accomplished as a single mother of three, widowed far too soon (I’ve never met Heather). My Facebook friends make me smile, laugh, cry, nod vehemently in agreement, feel comfort, sorrow, and joy. They keep me company when I’m alone, or allow me to vent when I’m fed up with life. They help keep things in perspective, offer advice, motivate me when I need it, and lift my spirits when I’m down. They are important to me.
So how do you go about having a healthy relationship with social media and using it “the right way?” For me, it took some time and a few learning experiences to figure it out. Some of these may be obvious to you, but here is how I keep my Facebook love affair blossoming:
Don’t post too often. I had a turkey sandwich for lunch. I have a headache and don’t know what to make for dinner. This is all true. But you don’t need (or want) to hear that stuff. Before posting, I ask myself, what do I like to see on Facebook? Would I be interested if someone else posted this? If not, I skip it. If I really need to tell someone about my turkey sandwich, I’ll call my mom.
Vague posts are not about you. When someone posts something ambiguous, especially if it’s negative, it is in our nature to think it’s about us. We start to question it and, if you’re like me, possibly even dwell on it. Chances are, it’s not about you. Keep scrolling.
Controversial subjects are tricky so pick your battles. I was un-friended by someone shortly after I shared a post in support of same-sex marriage and I’m pretty sure it was not a coincidence. So, good riddance to her, but in general I tend to avoid posting anything too controversial. Part of the reason I love Facebook is because my feed is mostly filled with positive, uplifting, feel-good stories, pictures, and posts. I don’t want to feel angry or defensive when I look at my feed, and I don’t want to be the one inciting those battles either. So I keep it benign.
Don’t post embarrassing stuff about your kid(s). When I (finally) potty trained my son, to say I was proud would be an understatement. Believe me, I wanted to tell the whole world and show everyone how stinkin cute he looked on the potty, but I don’t think it’s appropriate. Once it’s out there, it’s going to stay out there. When he’s 16 years old, I doubt he (and his friends) will think it’s so “stinkin cute.” Keep that in mind.
Don’t compare yourself to others. This one’s tough because in all honesty, I do compare myself to others. So, knowing this about myself, I try to put a positive spin on it. Instead of feeling jealous, I feel happy for my friends and use it as motivation. Colleen ran a half-marathon? Good for her! I’m going to get out there and run this afternoon! Kyleigh looks super hot in that dress! Good for her! I’ll have to ask her for fashion advice. I also acknowledge that the pristine, squeaky clean life others portray in Facebook World is only a snapshot in time. That beaming baby may have had a complete meltdown after the picture was taken. Keep it in perspective.
Don’t post too many pictures of your kids. Ha! Yeah right! But seriously, go look at the 143 pictures of my baby eating pizza. It’s adorbs.