The timing of her phone call was impeccable.
Lately I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking, and even research, on social media’s effects on us. What I’ve learned prompted my decision to set up personal limits on how much access I have to it. But I hadn’t told anyone else except my husband, and we were just finishing up conversation number 862 about how things needed to change.
Then a friend called, and without knowing what was on my mind, she started in. “I’m so disenchanted with the online world right now.” Her personal online demons aren’t the exact same sites as mine, but the problem is the same, and the research is proving that she and I aren’t the only ones.
Along the way, we as a society have come to a place where we view social media’s proper place incorrectly. There are two key facts that seem so obvious that I shouldn’t need to list them, yet studies are showing that they aren’t very obvious anymore.
First, social media is not real life. It seems like a no-brainer, but why else would we get emotionally charged after seeing pictures or posts from others? I love the phrase I’ve seen several writers adopt to describe this syndrome. It’s impossible to know everything about someone’s life from their online highlight reel.
Are highlight reels bad? Not one bit! I love seeing pictures of what is bringing joy into the lives of my friends. It’s my responsibility to remember that what I’m seeing is only a small glimpse into a solitary snapshot of their day. If I can’t handle that, then I need to step away from observing for a while.
We would all benefit from remembering that social media is not an ideal place for word vomit either. Nobody enjoys being around a Debbie Downer in real life, let alone online. Highlights and word vomit combined make for a tumultuous journey through one’s news feed, and it’s no wonder we feel worse after spending a substantial amount of time online instead of living life.
Which leads me to my next point. Social media shouldn’t be an escape. God has given all of us a real life to live. It’s a gift that most all of us take for granted from time to time. My friend said something so wise while we talked on the phone that day which summed up the feelings I was trying to sort out. “For far too long, I’ve looked at online as an escape. But why would I want to escape my life? It’s wonderful!”
I couldn’t agree more.
My life is wonderful. I don’t deserve or need some break from living the life I’ve been given. This doesn’t mean I don’t need rest from time to time. Or that I can’t ever spend time catching up with those I love through social media. What’s essential here is that I maintain a healthy view of my life and put social media in its proper place.
I am thankful for the way social media allows me to stay connected with friends who live far away. While we are living our own stories out miles apart, it’s great to be able to get a glimpse into their current life’s situation. It’s also fun to get to zoom in on what kinds of things my close-to-home friends are up to with their own callings and families.
However, the moment I sense the switch going off in my brain that makes me long for a different person’s life, I know I need to walk away, take a good look at the blessings that I have in my life at that very moment, and live my life without trying to escape it.
Less is more, especially when it comes to spending time online from the days we’re given to live life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have you ever had to overcome an issue that social media has created in your life? If so, how did you do it? Feel free to leave a comment or send an email.
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Soli deo Gloria