I’m all about efficiency and productivity. So I must admit social media is a really efficient way to keep up with friends who live all over the country and even in different parts of the world. Friends are really important to me and the distance, or the hectic schedules, between us makes me sad. If I could magically put all those special people in one spot so we could keep up with and enjoy each other more, I’m all there. That’s what makes social media so appealing. It does exactly that, even if it’s through the barrier of a screen.
This wonderful tool also comes with a lot of pitfalls which many of us fall into. There’s nothing wrong with posting minute-by-minute updates of your life and, honestly, I like being a part of your life when I can’t be by your side. But a few days away from my computer or a little bit of silence on social media has opened up a whole new world for me.
Nowadays, if you have any kind of social media account, it completely alters the way you think and perceive the world around you. We think in tweets, we report events in the form of facebook posts, and we see the scenes around us through instagram filters. We live like mini celebrities with our lives on display for the rest of the world. That is a lot of pressure. And it’s not the way I want to live anymore. Because when I took a step back and I started recognizing my mentality, I was convicted. Therefore, I’d like to share with you ten reasons why I have stopped (or at least cut back on) posting my life online.
1. I’m tired of trying to impress people. I don’t want to measure my self-worth in facebook likes. If we were really honest with ourselves, that’s exactly what we do. We feel insecure when those little hearts on our instagram selfie don’t measure up to everyone else’s and when re-tweets are few and far between. But I don’t want to worry about that kind of stuff anymore. I don’t want to care if my facebook post gets one like or a hundred. Why should it matter if someone has followers in the thousands instead of double digits? It shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Who you are can’t be depicted in a few words, numbers and photos on a social media account. Your worth can never be measured by ANYTHING on social media.
2. I want to live life and really experience it. Life is really distorted through the lens of an iphone camera or the keyboard of a computer. I want to live life and be fully present, completely absorbing what is going on around me; not thinking about how I can get an instagram-worthy photo or a like-worthy status update. Posting about a special or fun event is still a great idea, but I want it to be an after-thought instead of on the forefront. This, I think, is the hardest thing for people in my generation because we’ve grown up with social media. It’ll be even harder for the generation to come. Posting on social media is now an automatic response for many of the thoughts we have and the things we experience. So let’s set an example to show the world how to really live life without reducing it to 140 characters or less.
3. I want to share my news in person more. To be honest, I love celebrating exciting news with friends on facebook. I love hearing about the great things in my friends lives and I’m so thankful for their support in mine. But a few comments (no matter how many adorable smileys or exclamation marks) and likes can’t replace seeing a person’s sincere reaction of joy when sharing good news. It can’t even come close. In the same way, a few words of sympathy can’t measure against a hug or just physically being there for someone when they face a tragedy. Get off the computer or phone, go to them and be Christ’s love and the vessel of His comfort in their time of difficulty. Please, this is the most important thing you can do for your dear friends.
4. I want to engage in real relationships. Social media is an easy way out which makes us feel like we’re “maintaining” friendships with a lot of people. It causes us to be slackers in the department of relationships because it makes it easy for us (that’s probably why we gravitate towards social media so much). Engaging with real people, in person, is a lot harder. You have to coordinate schedules, pause the things in the background of your life, invest in people, let them invest in you and work to help each other grow in your friendship. You have to make the people you care about a priority. It’s not hard but it does require intention and effort. And scrolling through your newsfeed does not qualify as either. It’s just not real life.
5. I want to re-focus the friendships I have. Because it’s impossible to maintain relationships with people over an electronic device, especially when the number of people we virtually come in contact with every day is usually in the hundreds. Each person on my social media account is really important to me and if you wanted to go through my friend list with me I could explain exactly how I know each one and tell you a little about them. I pay attention to them because I care. So I won’t say you’re not real friends with someone if your relationship mostly consists of virtual communication for one reason or another. I’ll be the first one to say I know quite a few people who I consider close friends but our main source of communication is facebook. It’s inevitable sometimes, and in those times I’m most thankful for the benefits of social media. My life would be such a depressing place without having the ability to connect with those friends because I don’t know when I’ll be able to see them again. But taking a step back from social media has also helped me realize just how important those people are, that they deserve more than an occasional comment and that I want to interact with them as much and in the same way as my other friends whom I mostly keep up with in person. It has helped me understand that I’ll be even happier if I can find ways of lifting more of our friendships off of facebook and putting them back into reality again, where we met.
6. I like my friends more in person than online. Online communication is just so bland compared to seeing the beautiful faces, hearing the voices and being able to sit beside the people you care about most. I’d do anything to have a daily hug from each of my facebook friends.
7. I don’t like a website tracking my every move. Between check-ins, locations and the annoying map that tracks where you’ve been, facebook alone might as well be a roadmap for a stalker on where to find you, who you are and what you’re about. Not only does this have serious security issues which should be considered (Did you know: Identity thieves can get enough information from your facebook to do damage just by having your name and full birthday on your profile), but it’s just weird to have approximately 700 pairs of eyes following you wherever you go. When I do have something interesting to report, I at least remind myself to post afterward. Just enjoy the moment. Facebook will be there when you get back if you still want to post about what you did today.
8. I don’t want to give the impression I act differently online. It’s no secret that we try to make our lives look pretty great when we’re online. It’s so easy and so tempting. All you have to do is show the parts of your life you want to highlight and hide what you don’t. Will I post a picture of myself all dressed up and looking spiffy for the day? Probably. Will I ever post a picture of what I actually look like right now, late at night, with my hair a mess, no makeup and wearing PJs? Not a chance. I’ll probably think twice before talking about the things that make me frustrated or the thing that make me cry. But I will never hesitate to share with you some of the good moments in my life. And that’s okay, because not everything deserves to be on display for the world to see. Some things are only between you and your close friends, you and your family, or just you and the Lord. But I don’t ever want to be seen as someone who is fake. When I do post, I want full honesty behind my words and I want to be real, not trying to cover up the fact that life doesn’t always look pretty. But I also want to give you the opportunity to see who I am through how I act and what I say in real life, not just online.
9. I want to make sure I’m developing my internal filter. If you’ve known me for more than a few years you probably know I have a tendency to say exactly what I’m thinking. When it’s appropriate, of course. To me, it’s a great thing. I love it when people can just be up front and honest with each other about what they’re thinking. It just makes life easier. But not every situation calls for that. Social media is one of those instances. When you start to develop a filter for the things you post online it helps you think twice before you speak in person, and vice versa. When you have a phone constantly at your fingertips which enables you to share your thoughts without any eyes on you in the moment and very few seconds between thought and post, it can get you in trouble. Internal filters are for your own benefit.
10. I don’t want the lives of my future children engraved in the digital world. The competition in social media for those likes, shares and re-tweets is fierce, and I don’t want to create an environment where my children feel like they have to live up to that silly standard. Or worse, I don’t want them to feel inadequate because some people they may hardly know decided to scroll instead of comment. I’m probably going to be one of those moms who will want to show off our beautiful children to everyone, but I also want to protect their innocence even more and respect that when they’re older they may not want their lives on display. I just don’t know how I would have felt in my awkward pre-teen years if I had known there were a bunch of things about my little kid-self floating around on the internet for everyone to see. This is completely unexplored territory because the next generation is the first to have their birth announced on social media, along with those special and sometimes embarrassing day-to-day moments. Some of them aren’t even old enough to know or have their own accounts yet. Maybe it will become a norm in our society and it won’t bother them. But we don’t know. For now, I’m falling in the category of less is more. Because, above all, when I have a family someday I want my children to feel safe and protected within our home. I want to give them plenty of room to learn and explore, to mess up and grow, without the fear of those intimate moments – the moments they may later feel embarrassed about or regret – being shared with the world.
To post or not to post? That is the question. Ultimately, it’s a delicate balance which requires discretion and it’ll look differently for each person. I would just challenge you to reevaluate your life and relationships away from social media and encourage you to make a decision which furthers relationships and allows you to enjoy real life. Make the first move to build better relationships with the people you care about. They’re God’s wonderful gift to us and I’m so thankful for them. Let’s not allow social media to cheat us and waste this gift…or waste our lives.