Sunday, October 5, 2014

Breaking up with Social Media

I think it was 2008 when I joined Facebook for the first time.  For the first few years it was easy for me to keep the time I spent there at a minimum and I really enjoyed the forum it gave me to keep in touch with long lost friends.   Sometime in the last couple of years though, everything has changed.   I think it was the advent of the smartphone that gave people (including me) the opportunity to post what they're doing real-time.   Suddenly my feed was flooded with updates such as, 

"Happy birthday to my BFF, JoJo!"   at Cafe Rio --with BoBo, Mimi, Fifi, and Bambi. 

While I was under no illusion that JoJo was my BFF, I did consider  JoJo, BoBo, Mimi, Fifi, and Bambi to all be my friends too and suddenly I feel disappointed  that I wasn't invited to JoJo's birthday dinner.  

While I have no doubt that everyone went on these kind of small group birthday outings without me long before the Facebook and Instagram apps on the smartphone were invented, the difference is that now all the people who weren't invited get to know all about it too.   Combine that kind of post with a few too many outings that involved my kids' friends that I didn't know about either, posts about exotic trips that friends are going on,  and I began to realize that Facebook and Instagram were making me feel that my  life is not up to par.      

And it's not just me!    

Research shows that regular users of social media are generally less happy and satisfied with their lives.     It's too easy to compare my weeknight dinner on paper plates  with other people's fancy dinner party pictures.   It's definitely been affecting me lately, which is why I left Facebook a few months ago and why I deleted my Instagram account today.  I needed a clean break and a fresh start.    

So, I recognize that social media isn't all bad and I do miss the day-to-day connection with some people, it simply wasn't worth the headache for me anymore.   Here are a few of the things I struggled with the most.  

I Hate--knowing too much about people's lives.   Not that they're necessarily sharing too much information, although some do, but that for most old friends and even long lost cousins the information in a Christmas card is all the connection I need.  Social media provides an information overload that finds me studying and caring far too much about the day-to-day happenings of other people's lives, most of whom I will probably never see again.


I Hate--seeing what events I was not invited to.  I'm normally not very sensitive or very social, but when you see seven of your friends posting about the same super-fun party that you were decidedly not invited to, it's hard not to care at least a little.   Throw in a few kids' parties, a couple of fun looking girls' nights out, and friends that get together on a regular basis without you and it makes me care far more than I should.   Ignorance is definitely bliss when it comes to this kind of stuff.


I Hate--Seeing everyone else's best framed side, which makes the mundane of my life seem abnormal.   Yeah, I have gray hair, age-spots, a bunch of weight to lose, and a house that's not perfect and while logically I know that I'm not the only one who struggles with those things, based on what I see on social media it often feels like I am.  


I Hate--that I had developed this false notion that people actually care about me and the tidbits of my life.  I don't mean this in a feel-sorry-for-me kind of way, but truly who really cares about what my kids wore on the first day of school?   I care.   My mom cares.  Maybe even my Aunt Valerie cares.    But what about Lulu Smith and the other 600+ of my friends whose feeds it will dot?     If I post it on my blog, someone has to make the effort to come read the post and look at the pictures, but on Instagram and Facebook it gets thrown into everyone's faces, making people feel like they need to give me a thumbs-up or some kind of pat on the back ….you know so I will return the favor and go like their update next time.   It all feels insincere and I don't want/need it anymore.


I'm sorry for yet another rant and I hope you'll forgive me for it.  It is my hope that by breaking up with Instagram today, that it  will help me stop obsessing about the things I'm not doing and start helping me to focus on how I can be a better real-life friend.     

PS  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I'm glad you're here!   :)   



melissa said...
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Mom said...

I am already pretty tired of facebook and have only been looking at Dad's once a day for 3 or 4 months. Too much garbage on it. Although I have seen a few uplifting quotes on it. Do enjoy looking at family updates but rarely actually see any. So am about to join you in not looking at facebook.

Dad can show me any family news on facebook. Can spend the time doing more indexing.

Charlene said...

Yeah, I don't get the dinner pictures either! I purposely did not get on Instagram for all the same reasons you posted. I think it has blessed me more than I realize. Some people ask me why not, I just tell them I'm not interested in it. I don't have a teenage daughter yet, and I'm worried what will happen then. My two older boys could care less and don't have instagram, which we don't allow them to have anyways.
I'm impressed with you for taking a stand on this issue. I have seen these same issues in my area too. My prayer is that it will end before my daughter reaches that age! Is that too much to ask? ;)

shannon said...

I can appreciate much of what you said. It was an honest appraisal of what can result from social media. I still sit on the other side of that fence, however, and for me find it to be a mostly positive part of interacting with people. Perhaps it factors as a greater tool of interaction as I live so far from most of my friends and all of my family. There are some important things I wouldn't know about in the lives of extended family and good friends that social media has provided that has helped me support them or just be a better friend. There's a lot of garbage on social media, but I actually find that ratio low, which probably corresponds to the fact that I have no problem deleting people that are abusers of garbage. I will note, however, that the ratio of senseless material (mostly not "bad," but just pointless) is much higher on my teen's feed. I think the younger generation isn't using social media like ours does, but that 's a different topic perhaps. I should also note that social media plays a HUGE roll in my business. I owe at least 50% of my business to the use of social media. So that probably keeps me on more than anything else. I agree that postings on social media definitely most often represents the shinier parts of life. And with all the happy vacation pictures and fine dining images of friends, I know there are a hundred more less photogenic things going on in people's lives that aren't making the social media cut. It's still there in everyone's lives, and I accept that most people are putting their best face forward when they post. I accept that is not a really accurate reflection of their lives, or mine. I'm sure my life looks pretty shiny on social media, but most the time there's a pile of laundry on the sofa next to me as I post! Will miss you over there, but glad to know I can find you here still. Which brings up another topic, blogging as a dead art. (Most my friends have abandoned their blogs!)

Lara said...

Shannon, I actually agree with everything you said. I started this blogpost as a list of the things I loved and hated about social media, but ended up just making it more about why I'm left.

There really are a lot of things about social media and keeping up with old friends that I enjoy and that I truly miss being away from it. I've hidden annoying people from my feed for years, but my struggle right now is that I am surrounded by a lot of very social people (who are close in proximity to me) who seem to share every single fun outing they go on, plan parties and exclude my children (mainly one of them), list who they're with at every time of the day, and in general just brag about how fun their lives are. At this time in my life my skin simply isn't thick enough for it and since there are so many of them that do it, it has outweighed the positives for me.

Of course, there's also all the pointless twaddle that you mentioned that was just a distraction in my life. And I very much worry about the younger generation who seems all too attached to the twaddle and the need for approval at every turn. So much of how they judge themselves is by how much other people respond to them on social media. I worry that it's all very unhealthy for them (and for some adults who are a little too attached).

As far as blogging goes, I agree that it's sad how many people have left blogging by the wayside. Sometimes I have considered (very briefly) if I could give up my blog too and it's just not an option for me. Since I was 8-years-old I've used writing as a way to express myself and deal with frustration. And I love the photography end of it almost as much as the writing, which means that I will continue to blog.

melissa said...
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JP said...

I totally get this. I have found FB to be more enjoyable again since I drastically pared down my "friends" to people I actually care about, who care about me, and who I interact with in real life. I had too many people on there who were people I once knew or people I met once - and it was a meaningless time suck most of the time.

Lara said...

Melissa, thanks for checking in again. It's great to hear from you! I did hear the talk in general conference and it reassured me that my blogging is serving a valuable purpose besides me going on the occasional rant to clear my head! I'm glad your family is still enjoying the lessons. Those were a good investment of my time when the kids were young! Speaking of young kids, how is your sweet new baby?

JP, if I ever get back on FB, I've decided that that's what I'll do as well. Pare my friend list down to a fraction of what I've had. I think I'll even have to pare down that people that live around me, since they're the worst offenders right now. I love them in person, but I find myself constantly comparing myself to them via social media.

Lillian said...

Well said! I do miss you on FB, but I know to check here to see how you are! You are kind, wise, creative, funny, and inspirational. We must get together soon -- I promise NOT to post it on FB! ;)


Mika said...

I totally noticed when you dropped off instagram. My private instagram feed is so super private that you were a tenth of my followers! hahaha

You know what is interesting....when things are stressful, I quite often use social media as a numbing/escaping tool and will go on a few times a day. Then, on the flip side, when life is good, I forget all about it.

I second a lot of what you have said. I have been very hesitant about letting my kids get an account on any social media apps, because it can warp reality.

I'm so glad you are still blogging!

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