Right now, I know too much. I know the first, middle, and last names of all the children and husbands of the “career women” I follow on Instagram. I know what they wore today, what their kids ate for lunch, and what they bought at Target, among other useless information. I follow these women because next to the useless pieces of information are often golden nuggets of encouragement and wisdom, information that helps me through my day and makes me feel good. But this game of learning through social media is overwhelming, distracting, and, ultimately, an oxymoron. While I crave support and good ideas to help me better navigate my day, I despise having to know about the mundane details of these stranger’s lives. I hate seeing that instead of being fully engaged with their children, these Public Figures choose to hop on Instagram and tell me about all the work they have to do, or to post a picture of their Starbucks next to their expensive Macbook Pro. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW THAT STUFF! I want to know less, I want to know only what is important. It’s why on my own blog I do not provide a roll call of my family’s names or oodles of pictures of us doing nothing important (but making it look super cool for Instagram); it’s why I only post when I feel there is something useful to share.
Checking social media is an addiction, I’ve come to realize: it provides an escape from reality and, when I resurface, I have no idea what just happened around me. If I’m bored, waiting for my turn in an office waiting room, checking out is not a problem because there’s nothing to miss (though one could argue there is plenty to miss there, too). But when I’m at home and could be engaging with my son, it’s a problem. I feel nothing but guilt and remorse for missing out on this real, precious life. Furthermore, I feel sad that I gave up an opportunity for a happy moment in my life in order to learn about someone else’s stupid happy life, or worse, someone else’s stupid complaints and negativity. Either way, I wind up feeling worse for having been on social media than if I had just chosen to stay present.
Social media is terrible for seeing into the lives of others and believing that those lives are more magical than our own. Social media causes me to miss out on my own real life when I’m contemplating the life of a stranger through rose-colored glasses.
I want to be intimate with my personal life, not longing for something that’s manufactured for me to consume. When I get annoyed by how social media has become the cornerstone of society, I find myself longing for life as it was before it took over. Remember when someone explained MySpace to you and your initial reaction was, “WTF, why?!”? That was me, too. And that was me for everything else that has come to social media since. I need to distance myself from this world of images that make me feel envious. I want to only consume the best wisdom blogging and media platforms can produce, without sacrificing my sanity and learning how many Starbucks coffees a person I’ll never meet had in a week.
I want to just live real life, without subconsciously overlapping and comparing another’s life with my own.
With these concerns in mind, I’ve formulated the following plan to maintain healthy boundaries with social media:
Hide the app from myself. I have a folder that hosts the few apps I hardly use. I’ve moved Instagram in there so that it’s completely out of sight. When I do decided to go on it, I have to open that folder first. Some social media detoxes will have you delete the app from your phone so that you have to re-download it every time you decide you’re ready to get back on it. I feel like that is a bit excessive and this method gets the job done just as well. The barrier of the separate folder gives me enough time to consider whether or not it’s appropriate to check out from my life and enter the social media vacuum.
Work through each real life moment as it presents itself. Yes, I will get bored. No, that does not mean I need to escape the boredom via social media. Boredom passes just as quickly as it arises, so why not just let it be?
Embrace simplicity. What I value most about pre-smart phone times was that we only had what was in front of us physically, and I want to get back to that.
Finally, I want to stop caring about stranger’s lives. This is truly the only thing that keeps social media running and keeps everyone addicted. But caring about what happens in a stranger’s day is keeping me from caring about what happens in my own day. Once I get unhooked, I can move on with living my own real, beautiful life. And that is the most important post of all.
*For an update on this topic, please read Living Off the Grid.
11 thoughts on “Healthy Boundaries with Social Media”
I hope your readers get the word out & share your insightful thoughts with others. Either by social media or dare I say, like back in the day with a phone call, letter or a face to face conversation. There has been progress with social media but unfortunately there have been serious complications as well! I notice in a restaurant for example a family of all equations on their cells & not engaging with one another! It makes me sad! But it makes me even more aware of how thankful that my family, our friends & I still enjoy sharing, talking, laughing & just simple communication. Like you said, Enjoy Your Beautiful Life! I try my best to enjoy every moment of the past, present & future with true appreciation! Thank You!
Yes I totally agree! We are missing out on real connection when our faces are stuck in our phones!
You are growing wise beyond your years!!:)
Thank you :))
Great post! Social media can be so toxic. You can’t ever be sure that what you’re seeing is even real, and it keeps us from enjoying so much! I hide the apps from myself too – and log out when I really need a break!
Thank you so much, Sara! You’re right about it often being fake, but when I get sucked in I believe it’s real which is terrible!
This is such an eloquent and to the point post that illustrates what I think a lot of us feel but don’t want to admit (or dare say out loud). I’ve felt the same things as you for almost two years now and after having my second son three months ago came to the point where enough was enough. I am not sure what my approach to social media will be in 2019 but it’s going to be very different because life is way too short. Keeping being real and honest. It’s inspiring!
Hi Rhiannon! Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, I really appreciate them! I would love to read more of your social media approach once you nail it down. It was hard for me to figure out because there is a part of me that likes to be connected and another part that wants to live off the grid, haha! Thank you again and Happy New Year!