Down with Social Media

There’s been so many posts on social media by people resolving to spend less time on their electronics, and focus more attention on their children.  Some of the blogs I’ve read have really hit home.  What will our children remember?  Parents that are constantly inundated by their phones, laptops, and tablets?  How much are we missing by simply looking elsewhere at things of no importance?

It’s been in my head lately and really bothering me.  I’m completely guilty of it.  I sit at the breakfast table with my kids, reading the news on my phone while having conversations that I’m certainly not 100% involved in, all the while excusing my behavior by telling myself, “well I don’t want to watch the news in front of the kids.”  I read blogs and research things endlessly.  These are my hobbies (I guess) and I thought I was multitasking, but really I’ve been choosing to focus my attention other places than my children.

Then I’ve been thinking.  Three kids is a lot.  Maybe not for everyone, but it is for me.  And it’s soon to be four.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mother, but it’s one of those jobs that receive no appreciation, or at least it feels that way more times than not.  It’s a job that has no instant gratification.  It’s a challenge day in and day out and some days I feel like a failure, while other days I feel like a success.  It’s an area I’ve really struggled with lately to find total purpose in because we live in a society that makes you believe you have to have a “job” to be successful in life…that being a mother isn’t enough.  I know that with four kids, my sole focus needs to be my kids.  My identity will be defined by my children, which should be a beautiful thing, but instead, is made to feel like not enough.  But why?  I’ve been thinking and thinking (stop laughing, my thoughts are so scattered these pregnant days) and I’ve come to a wonderful, yet sad conclusion.

You see, I had my first child a month after I turned 21, my second at 23, then life went on to produce a divorce, a new marriage, and another child at 27.  So I have children that have a 5 and 7 year gap in age.  I know it was starting over, but I’ve been blessed in so many ways by having this gap.  For one, I really cherish my youngest in a way I didn’t know how to when I was 21, because of the reason most parents don’t experience until it’s already gone…the reason being I know just how fast it goes and how hard it is to remember little things, that while you’re in it, you are sure you will never forget.  Secondly, when I was 21, there wasn’t all this social media bombarding my life.  Sure, my circumstances were not ideal.  I know for a fact that had I experienced the very same life, but with facebook, instagram, bloglovin, and so on at my fingertips, it probably would have been much shorter lived than it was.  What I mean is, I was in a bad, bad relationship in which I always focused on the good times to get me through all of the bad.  Eventually, the good times couldn’t even hold a candle to the bad times and I knew I couldn’t be in that relationship anymore.  However, it was a time when I didn’t know what was going on with everyone else in the world.  I was having babies and my friends were at college and that’s just how it was.  I didn’t know everything that I was missing out on, or should I say, I would have felt I was missing out on.  My sole focus had to be my family because that was really all I had.

And I did it and I would even go so far to say I did it beautifully.  I had two kids two years apart from each other, while my entire family moved to Florida and my best friends were away at college.  Even then, some days were better than others, but that’s just the way it was and the bottom line is that I had no knowledge of any other way that it could be.

Cue facebook.  I created a facebook account when my youngest at the time was 9 months old.  If I were to be completely honest with myself, that was when I realized everything I was missing out on.  Don’t misunderstand me…it wasn’t that I no longer enjoyed my life, but it did intensify the feeling of discontent I was living with, while in a bad relationship.  Why?  Because everyday I could see what other 23 year olds doing and I suddenly felt like I missed everything.  Obviously, I knew it wasn’t the important things I was missing out on, but still…it was like a rude awakening and I felt like I had been living in a bubble.

It was a blessing and a curse in a sense.  It was a blessing to me that I had the opportunity to have my first two children and really enjoy them and truly feel like being a mother was enough.  It had to be enough because it was all I had, I am so thankful that I loved it the way I did.  It was a curse because it seemed to be the stone that shattered the glass house I was living inside of.  It was my ex husband’s greatest disadvantage because he could no longer keep me isolated and tear apart my self esteem enough so that all I had was all I knew, keeping me deceived that it was all  I was good enough for.

No, I’m not blaming my divorce on facebook.  It wasn’t the catalyst by any stretch of the imagination.  But it was eye opening.  In all honesty, facebook should be the last thing you use if you are unhappy in a relationship.  Statistics have been concluding more and more that social media contributes greatly to divorce and affairs and it’s because these “relationships” or “friends” if you will, shouldn’t have access to you or you to them.  But at the very least, it’s a door to create jealousy and discontent.  That being said, say you are in a great relationship, as I am now.  It does no such thing.  Instead, I find myself bombarded with much of what other mothers struggle with and that is feeling like I’m not a good enough mom.  I’m not always baking cookies or creating amazing crafts or anything of the sort.

My point with social media is that it will create discontent in whatever aspect of your life you are struggling with, whether it’s a bad relationship, a job you hate, or feeling inadequate as a mother. And the thing about it is, you only see what people post.  You don’t see behind the closed doors.  You see the things that people want to share and you have to wonder, how much of it is true?  How much of it is fabricated?  Social media has become a platform for self involvement and passive aggressive competition and when it comes down to the heart of the matter, why are we competing with people we barely know, comparing ourselves to the pinterest posts of people we’ve never met, and to keep it brief, creating a world for ourselves that makes us feel like we’re not good enough? Why are we “following” people that have no knowledge of our existence?  Why are we making a life in which nothing we do is enough?

These days, I’ve followed in the what I hope to be a lifestyle change for our society and not just a fad, when it comes to shelving our electronics.  You’re not going to get immediate responses from me when you text me unless you’re lucky.  I’m not going to get alerts from facebook when someone comments on something and you know what?  My world won’t end.  My world will be as it should be where my bad day is my bad day and I take a breath, focus on the good, and move on.  I am choosing to conform to the ways of my 21 year old self, in the sense that what I have helped create (my family) will be my focus.  Everything else is just a distraction and a version of my ex husband.  At 21, I had him making me think I wasn’t good enough for anyone or anything and at 29 I have social media trying to do the same thing, when it comes to my inadequacies as a parent.  The thing is…it’s all an unnecessary distraction that coincidentally makes you feel lousy while robbing you of what is most important to begin with.  Time.  Life is short.  Time is uncertain for all of us.

Whatever stage in life you’re in, let it be enough.  I have chosen to stop being the ringmaster in the circus of my life, filled with acts that want to be main attraction, but never will be.  My circus will be four kids and I am thankful and content with that.  I’m going to choose to focus on them and not let the wonderful and awful things they do pass me by because I was reading how to make a craft that I will never make from a person I’ve never met.  Let’s turn off the world that doesn’t matter and focus on the things we don’t need an app for.  Let’s make it a lifestyle and not a fad.

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  • Reply Kristen January 14, 2014 at 8:08 am

    What an insanely beautiful post. It’s been a topic of discussion at our house too. We often talk about what our kids will remember when they get older and not wanting it to be their parents distracted on their phones.

    • Reply Michelle January 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Kristen, I totally agree. I remember hearing my pastor say that if your kids always see you like this (he held his palm in front of his face to mimmick whatever device it is you use,) they are going to always look elsewhere to see where they can actually get attention. Sorry it took a few weeks to respond but I’ve been trying to find my balance with the internet and cell phones…

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