Jan 24, 2014

My Social Media Complex

Lately (well for the last couple months) I have been experiencing feelings of not being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, motherly enough, etc- lots of feelings of inadequacy.  Nothing life threatening or even Prozac-worthy, but just little thoughts every now and then.
I began to realize that these feelings and thoughts start to surface some times when I look on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, or read certain blogs.

Yesterday I was talking to my sister about this.  She said that during the Christmas season she didn't once look on Pinterest.  She said she didn't want to fall into the "Pinterest Peer-pressure" of feeling like she had to do Elf on the Shelf, and a Christmas craft-a-day, and A Christ-centered Christmas activity, and homemade ornaments, and fancy Christmas cards, etc in order to feel like she was worth something.

Our conversation made me think about a talk I heard from the girls of Our Best Bites at a Time Out for Women.  The said something along the lines of:

Isn't it interesting to hear how social media can make people feel inspired and inadequate at the same time?  Then they gave some example of social media and what they're really about.

Facebook - where not only can you go to read blogs to find ideas, but you can keep track chronologically of everything your friends are doing that you're not.

Twitter - A constant chirping in your ear reminding you of everything you’re not doing.  

Pinterest – also known as www. wow I didn't know I was so below average at everything .com!  It’s literally a way to collect and organize all the things you don’t have time, talent, or resources to accomplish, and then display them in a visually appealing way so that you can share them with others so that they can feel under average as well.

 President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught, “As the showdown between good and evil approaches with its accompanying trials and tribulations, Satan is increasingly striving to overcome the Saints with despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression.” The adversary knows that if he can prevent us from recognizing our divine potential, he will have scored a major victory.  

It is my opinion that one of the vices Satan is using to "overcome the Saints (especially the women) with despair, discouragement, etc" is social media.  If he can get us to feel inadequate because our house isn't as nice as so and so's, or we don't do crafts everyday with our kids, or our kids aren't dressed to the nines in name brand clothes, or we don't prepare gourmet meals for our family every night, then he is winning!  HE IS WINNING!

At the beginning of the year as I was thinking about what goals I wanted to set and work on for myself, one of the things that came to mind was to stop looking at social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for me); and to only read blogs that inspire me to be better, and to stop reading blogs that make me feel like I'm a failure.  If any of you have tried this, it is hard.  Social Media has become an addiction of sorts.  Many of us (me included) have turned into Compulsive Checkers.  

I recently read an article by Jordan K. Turgeon. As I read this part, I thought, "This is so me".  Here's what she says,

"I'd be sitting on the couch on the weekend, snuggled under a blanket, enjoying some downtime while scrolling through my various social media feeds, only to be assailed by a heap of obnoxious inner dialogue:
He has a new job! His dream job, no less. What a great opportunity.

I wish I could afford a trip to Europe. She's so lucky. Sometimes I worry if I wait too long I won't get to see as much of the world as I'd like.
He got to go to the football game? And it was an overtime win? That's a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- I wish I'd been there.
She finally had her baby! What a blessing. I wonder if I'll have kids, someday.
He's moving across the country! I've always wondered what it would be like to live there.
Look at their beautiful home -- so cozy! My tiny city apartment pales in comparison.
Wow. Everyone seems to have things together and really know what they want and where they're going next.

And then, I'd ask myself: WHY do I care so much?
After some self-evaluation (and after opening my Instagram app one last time before going to bed, despite it having only been 2.3 minutes since I last refreshed), I diagnosed myself with FOUL. Most are probably familiar with FOUL's older sibling, FOMO -- the fear of missing out. But that wasn't quite my issue; I was perfectly happy staying home, cooking dinner and bingeing on Netflix reruns while friends posted photos with their sparkly necklaces and fancy drinks. What I had was the fear of an unfulfilled life. A fear of regret. I didn't want to look back on things and discover I hadn't lived the life I wanted.
Social media can be a wonderful thing. But when I started questioning my ambitions and goals and comparing my life choices to others' based on something as silly as a photo upload or status update, I knew something had to give. My compulsive checking had become a burden instead of a fun way to keep in touch. I wanted to live a better, more present life, and in order to do that I had to stop bombarding myself with information on how everyone else was living theirs."
So Jordan did what I'm going to do.  She gave up social media, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, etc for 30 days.  (You can read about how it went here.)
I realize that social media can be good, and I understand not everyone has this same problem.  But for me, I too want to "live a better, more present life" and always feel and recognize the divine potential and worth God has blessed me, and only me with. So Good-Bye Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  I'll see you in 30 days or maybe never.