Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with social media, or is it just me? I have a group chat with my sister, cousin, and friend where we have discussed this topic many times, and I know that it isn't just me. I love seeing what is going on in people's lives, funny memes, and videos, but man can it get you down.
I've listened to lots of podcasts, interviews, and read articles about the influence social media has on a person's mental health. It is very interesting to hear professionals explain this love/hate relationship. It becomes almost like an addiction. You post something and receive feedback- likes and comments provide attention. When the attention you get is positive you get a little spike in confidence and you want more and more. When the attention you get is negative, or even no response at all to your post, you begin to feel bad, maybe even depressed. Then you see someone you went to high school with post a pic of themselves in a tiny bikini on a tropical island smiling without a care in the world and that's where my main issue with social media comes into play- Comparison.
Comparing my appearance has always been and issue for me. It goes along with my Eating Disorder. Comparing my life, or milestones in life, is something unique to social media. It started in college. I transferred colleges three times due to the changing plans in my life. I started out at a local 2 year community college with the plans of transferring to Tennessee the following year when my health improved. When that next year came I was in a relationship and no longer wanted to move away, so I transferred to a 4 year college close to home. Then I transferred one more time when I was given an amazing opportunity to attend a private college with a great education department. Due to the transfers it took me a couple more years to graduate because each school had different graduation requirements and some credits didn't transfer over. It felt like a huge set back and I saw it as a flaw in myself even though it had nothing to do with me. So when I saw people I graduated high school with posting college graduation photos I felt like a total loser because I knew I still had 2 years left before that would be me. I felt behind the curve.
Next came house buying!! While I was still working on my bachelors degree I was seeing those college grads purchasing houses because, you know, they all had grown up jobs.
Then came engagements, bachelorette parties, weddings, honeymoons to exotic far away lands, pregnancy announcements, and babies being born! It never seemed to stop. Their lives were progressing and it felt like mine wasn't. Even after I finally graduated college I still felt like I was "behind in life."
Comparing my timeline in life and lifestyle choices is a full blown issue I have with social media. I see people working out and posting before and after pictures and suddenly I feel like I'm not enough, or I "should" be doing that too. If they are doing it then it must be right. People my age taking 16,000 vacations a year to exciting places makes me feel irresponsible because I work hard to save for 1 vacation to Florida! They can afford it, so why can't I? What's wrong with me?
That's the toxic impact social media can have on you! You compare other people's "highlight reel" of life to your average every day. People document the glittery parts of their lives. They post the cute newborn photos, but not the photo of the new mom sobbing in the middle of the night. Some people do, and I love those people. Keep on keeping it real!
In the past I have taken multiple social media "hiatuses" as my group chat calls them. Just a few weeks where I deactivate my accounts and just refresh my soul. No more comparing, just living. It is such an amazing feeling and if you've never done it, I highly recommend it even if it is just for a week.
Lately I have thought about going back on one. With everyone home right now everyone is sharing their home work out videos, their super healthy protein ball recipe, or lists of things they got accomplished in a day. That's great for them. I'm not saying you shouldn't do that. I am all about doing what makes you happy. If you are finding health during this time at home then good on ya! But when the images I see on social media begin to influence my thinking then I know it is time to take a step back. It's a me problem. I don't expect anyone to refrain from posting something because they are worried it will offend or trigger. It's my trigger, therefore it is my responsibility to do what I need to do. I manage what I see by unfollowing people who post things that are triggering to me. Not because I don't like them, but just because their content isn't something that is benefiting me right now.
I am a firm believer that everyone is fighting their own battles. We have to take our own path to fight those battles. Just remember that what you see on social media is another person walking their path. They aren't living your battle and they are not on your path. Comparing your life, lifestyle, or appearance to them is honestly like comparing apples to oranges. Don't be afraid to take a social media hiatus or to click mute on someone's newsfeed. It's okay. You need to take care of you!
End of rant :-p
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<3 Stay Strong and Beautiful!