How far we have come as a human race. We have found such incredible ways to communicate with each other. I can talk to anyone I want, from all over the world, without getting on a boat. And I take full advantage of that.
I spend a bit too much time on social media, I must admit. As a writer, part of networking is staying in touch, staying relevant, staying interesting. So usually I excuse my technology binges as being part of my art. But then my mom, interrupts my fantasy by reminding me that people have been writing incredible things for thousands of years without social media. And I must admit she has a point.
Social media has so many incredible benefits for human relationships. How many times have individuals been able to raise thousands of dollars for a good cause through social media fundraising? Countless times I have been able to pray for a Facebook friend in need only because I heard about their tragedy on the internet. Yes, social media brings many blessings, many joys, knits together so many communities.
But it can also trap us. Sometimes we choose to live our lives through social media. When we are depressed, or scared, or feeling low in confidence, social media can be salt on our wounds. We all have our best selves on display for all to see, and sometimes we forget that our social media lives are not our real lives. We become obsessed with displaying only the best parts of ourselves, and absorb only the best parts of others. That’s not real life.
A few months ago I connected with an old friend from college (via Facebook, of course). We chatted for a while about the small stuff, and then silence at the other end before she said,
“Confession: I literally thought you had the perfect life all this time.”
To which I responded,
“Seriously? I literally thought you had the perfect life all this time.”
And then we realized that we’re both just normal people with tons of messiness in our lives, deep fears, debilitating anxieties, and yet social media hides all of that. Social media is like a filter for our lives, it takes out all the bad stuff and leaves all the lovely stuff.
Sometimes I find myself checked out of a family gathering because I am too busy capturing all the perfect moments on Instagram. Like every time something happens that warms my heart, I need to share it with a bunch of people, both those I love dearly, and those I barely know. It gets a little out of hand sometimes. So the question is, should we share everything on social media?
Everything in moderation, I think. How wonderful that we can share precious moments of our lives, with all the people we love at one time. It is really quite convenient. Especially for those of us who can’t get it together enough to send out Christmas cards; all we have to do is post a picture or write a blog post and ‘Voila!’ all done! But we also need to recognize the ways in which social media can become an addiction, or a source of unhappiness. That is different for everyone. You have to know yourself and adjust accordingly.
Some of my friends simply refuse to have social media apps on their phones, mostly because they know that they would lose themselves in it. Some people use social media so minimally that you forget that they are even alive, but in return they keep their sanity. Some people are on social media often but it doesn’t seem to affect the way they see themselves or those around them. And then there are people like me, who are on social media for five minutes and are already convinced that everyone is prettier, more successful, and happier than I am (It might be time for me to begin regulating my internet use a little bit more closely).
The key is moderation, my friends. We don’t need to scroll over and delete all of our social media accounts this very minute lest we disintegrate into them. But we also don’t need to post every cute picture of ourselves that ever happened. Remembering that our worth doesn’t come from our popularity on the internet is very important. Social media is not a replacement for our actual lives, and our deepest relationships. It is a great tool that can help deepen our lives further if used with care and intentionality.