Don’t Judge a Life by Its Facebook

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A few months back, I took a Facebook sabbatical.

I deleted the app from my phone and had my husband change the password on my computer. It was November, and we were leading up to a busy holiday season. I wanted to spend more of my time being intentionally grateful, something I found difficult when I was scrolling through my news feed multiple times a day.

Someone posts a picture of her toes in the sand on a romantic anniversary getaway and suddenly my back deck doesn’t seem quite as sunny.

I see a status of someone that served her kiddos blueberry gluten free pancakes with a side of homemade strawberry preserves, cleaned out their laundry room, and built a ladder for their new toddler bunk beds out of upcycled pallets all before 10:00 a.m., and all I want to do is take a nap.

Even the network news channels are using tweets and status updates as legitimate sources, and I needed a reprieve from the one-sided bias of it all.

roosevelt quote

Social media is a necessary evil. On so many levels, it meets a hard-wired need for connection. Even if it is rather voyeuristic by nature, it allows us to get a glimpse into the lives of people from our past or selectively keep long distance family members apprised of our goings-on.

It’s a great marketing tool, particularly for entrepreneurs, bloggers, and creatives, as it provides a great platform for exchanging information with very little cost. It effectively serves as the front door to the global marketplace.

But plenty of research has surfaced over the last few years indicating the psychological effects of social media are rather costly. Too much time on Facebook has been likened to eating too much sugar. It’s easily digested with little to no intrinsic value, and it weighs in heavily on users self-confidence, stress levels, comparison and overall satisfaction with their lives.

As a mom, I find it particularly challenging to hang in the proper balance. Facebook has been faithful in keeping me from feeling completely disengaged when I’m at home with my children for days on end. It’s also been a great resource for parenting advice, encouragement, and little nuggets of information that inspire me throughout the day. It’s a quick fix of fodder for my mind when I don’t feel like I have time to sit down and prop my feet up with an actual book or magazine.

However, I am constantly reminding myself that it’s also not an entirely accurate picture of real life. In the same way that reality tv is poorly named considering the sets and makeup, HD editing and fancy camera angles, social media should have a pop up screen reminder every time you log on: Facebook scrolling may cause unnecessary tension, unrealistic expectations, and general dissatisfaction with one’s own life. Extended use has been linked to depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

social media warning

 

To discard the illustrious veil, I’m including a few examples of raw, unfiltered, borderline embarrassing snippets of my life as a reminder that we all have good days, bad days, and wrinkles.

This is my youngest son. Wearing a diaper. Drinking a beer. Not really, but stiiiillllll
This is my youngest son. Wearing a diaper. Drinking a beer. Not really, but stiiiillllll.
This is my current Facebook profile picture.
This is my current Facebook profile picture.
This is the first attempt of the same picture without a filter and obviously having not communicated the overall goal.
This is the first attempt of the same picture without a filter and obviously having not communicated the overall goal.
This is a shoe selfie my sister-in-law and I took to point out how different we are. My ankles are fat and we look like we're lying flattened underneath a house after an "Aunty Em" tornado. Didn't post.
This is a shoe selfie my sister-in-law and I took to point out how different we are. My ankles are fat and we look like we’re lying flattened underneath a house after an “Aunty Em” tornado. Didn’t post.
This is my oldest son, flipped topsy turvy, and instead of rescuing, I'm taking a picture and trying not to let him hear me laugh.
This is my oldest son, flipped topsy turvy, and instead of rescuing, I’m taking a picture and trying not to let him hear me laugh.

Life is hard and beautiful, and it takes a lot of guts to live it with all our chips in.

We get promotions, we lose our jobs. Our kids get A’s, our kids get bruises, our kids throw up in public restaurants. We burn casseroles and make to-die-for cookies. We fight with our husbands and whisper I’m sorry after we turn the lights out. We do fantastic crafts with our kids and then yell at them to get them to smile for the camera. We say things we shouldn’t, buy things we don’t need, and spend time foolishly.

So whether you’re on Facebook or you’re not, if you’ve stopped the scrolling thumb and taken five minutes to read this article, know that you are not alone.

That both your worst and best moments as a mom, as a wife, as a fellow human being . . . parallel mine.

That you don’t have to have it all together.

That you can make funny faces and let your wrinkles show.

That you can take pictures of your moments all day long and not worry if the floors are clean.

That not all of us are on vacation today.

Or madly in love today.

Or even feeling happy today.

But tomorrow we might.

And that’s ok too.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Funny enough, I love those “messy” pics way more than the polished and perfect ones that get posted. It’s not that they make me feel better about myself; they make me remember my own messy, beautiful life. Great post!

  2. Thanks for posting this. It is for this exact reason that I decided tonight (before reading this post) that I was taking a break from all social media for one week. It has become such a necessity in my life that I am now lost in it. The constant comparison of others made me lose myself. I already feel amazing knowing that I am off for one week! Great insight to a wonderful article.

  3. What a wonderful post! It is the true facts of like that comparison can kill your happiest moments and sometimes not knowing the difference is bliss! Messy, unfiltered and happy! Thank you for the great post!

  4. […] Don’t Judge a Life by Its Facebook — “I see a status of someone that served her kiddos blueberry gluten free pancakes with a side of homemade strawberry preserves, cleaned out their laundry room, and built a ladder for their new toddler bunkbeds out of upcycled pallets all before 10:00 a.m., and all I want to do is take a nap.” […]

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