Social Distortion

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.  When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve made it known before that I’m not a huge fan of social media.  In fact, last year I deleted my personal Facebook account on a whim, and never looked back.  I kept finding myself wasting time on it, so one day I cancelled it to prove to myself it wasn’t a sort of ‘idol’ in my life.  And I hated that I often logged on at home with my kids when I felt I needed a slight zone-out or link to the outside world.  I don’t think that’s always a bad thing in and of itself, but I was feeling slightly addicted.

So then besides Facebook, there’s Instagram and Pinterest, both of which I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love Instagram for seeing the pictures of my friends’ children and pets and lives in general.  Pinterest is good for putting together my favorite things into one organized place.  I find most of my recipes on there and I have actually done some of the home projects I’ve pinned.

So what is it exactly that I dislike about social media?  Besides the mindless, unproductive zone-out it provides, it feels like a moment-to-moment update for some people which makes me wonder if they’re really ‘present’ in their days.  I also tend to think certain moments are sacred and not meant to share with so many – but, if the ‘poster’ has no problem with it, then why should I?

I’m starting to realize this is my own issue and has nothing to do with anyone else.  It’s me who needs to put on a filter, and have a much less critical lens.

A couple weeks ago I had lunch with a friend, Bekah, who helped me see that the proudly displayed projects and carefully staged pictures are people’s ‘work’ and what feeds their creative soul, much as writing does for mine.  So why am I hating on it?

My own insecurity, in a nutshell.

I’m alone in this land of stay-at-home momville (at least in the sense that I have no adults at my “job” to connect with), so I guess I want to feel that others are having a challenging day if I am too.  When I log onto social media at the end of such days, I’m like, are you kidding me?  Even though that picture has absolutely nothing to do with my own day or my own circumstances.  It may be a gorgeous home project, a four-course homemade meal or an activity someone crafted with their kids – and I automatically feel like I can’t compare.

The truth is no one asked me to compare.  It was just a picture, a simple moment in time.  I have no idea what happened before that picture or the challenges that went into making said project – the kid who threw a tantrum as Mom was chopping and prepping food, the baby screaming as a mother tried connecting with her toddler for the fun craft she prepared.  There is a sense of accomplishment that goes into almost any project when you have children running around, so why not celebrate it?

As hard as it is to not compare, we are all human and have that tendency.  A subject I’ve written about before, comparison truly is the thief of joy.  I’m trying to look at social media from a new perspective, one that views the post or picture for just what it is – a tiny sliver of a beautiful friend’s day.

I’m also realizing social media is a source of tension for me because it has created loss in a way.  I’m such a “story” type of person – I love hearing people’s triumphs, their struggles, their journeys, and their hearts.  When I see a post or a picture, I don’t always know the story behind it and I find it sad that I am now forced to fill in the gaps myself.

Before, we were on the phone or in person sharing our battles and our celebrations, the trying moments and the small victories.  Now I see them on Instagram or a newsfeed and I wonder why I didn’t know or hear it personally.  In some ways this world of social media has created a disconnection or maybe even a false sense of being connected.

Obviously, there are also positives about social networking or no one would ever utilize it.  I get to remain a small part of old friends’ lives who I would have likely lost touch with otherwise.  I’m grateful I get to see their children grow up from afar and be in ‘the loop’ in many ways.

What’s hard is when you choose to not be on social mediums and you miss out on these things because of it.  People think they told you, but nope.  They assumed you knew because they posted it on Facebook.  I’m sure I missed out on many an event or announcement over the past year and probably still do, because I’m not in the habit of signing on regularly.

But I will gladly miss out on a large part of that world, if it means I’m focusing my attention on what’s actually in front of me – in person.  I’ll pick up the phone and call a friend to check in, and I’ll try living life in the present without staring down at a phone or tablet.

As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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6 thoughts on “Social Distortion

  1. Monica,
    You words are true and beautiful and full of honest intent. Being present truly is the best gift we can give others and you model that daily. xo

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