I took a hiatus from Facebook for five months this year and decided to reactivate it a few days ago. My time off of social media gave me a chance to detox from some unhealthy habits I had formed with it, but now that I’m back “on” social media I find it hard to re-engage with my internet community. I know it’s the main mode of my family and friends back home to connect with me, but every time I go to post something I find myself passing up the opportunity. Most days when I open up Facebook, I get annoyed. I took a weekend to figure out what my hangup is now with social media and here’s what I’ve come up with.
1. Most of my time on social media is my brain’s way of procrastinating.
Every time I pick up my phone to scroll on the internet, it’s because I’m procrastinating doing something I’m supposed to be doing. You name it, and I probably procrastinate 20 minutes beforehand on social media. My time away from Facebook alone helped me to realize how much free time I actually have. I spent the first few months of the year trying to find ways to create more time in my schedule. I decided to practice being present in my life and not wasting time on things that were not important to me. My break from social media, in general, helped me to realize I have time to do everything I want and need to do. Now that I’ve reactivated my accounts, I’m seeing how easy it is to lose track of time by simply being on apps on my phone. Social media will always be an easy distraction from anything we have to do; we just have to be aware of the fact that the more time you’re on it, the less time you are spending in your own life. Put your phone down and make the most of where you are!
2. Life doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy.
THIS isn’t a dig at all my ladies who are rocking Instagram and building huge followings. This merely goes to say that your real life isn’t always picture perfect. I love that social media allows us to memorialize moments of our lives for others to share and experience with us. But the rift comes when your “life” becomes a snapshot of nothing but the good. I don’t like the illusion that social media gives us. I don’t like that I can look at people’s “ life” on social media and get a picture that may not be true to themselves. And I’m not even talking about selfies. How many times have you gone to post something, but revised it and tweaked it before submitting? We put so much effort into our posts that by the time we post it, these images are censored versions of those moments. Social media provides a smoke screen that can sometimes be unrealistic. My life is mostly a hot mess. Road rage, rude thoughts, meltdowns, laughter, gossip, insecurities and even some unbelief. But all that adds up to a true picture of myself. I’m learning on this journey. I’m growing. The person I am will change a thousand times over during my life. Some things will stay the same, but the life I portray today on social media may not be the person I become five years from now. That’s okay. Life is a process, and the joy of social media is that we can look back and see how far we’ve come. My goal now is to live the truest version of myself on social media. If not for anything else, I want to be able to look back on both the good and the bad and see how far life takes me.
3. Friendships aren’t founded on facebook
When my closest friends post a cryptic message on social media, I call them. 90 percent of the time, whatever I think they were meaning is completely wrong. Lots of times we can read a post and make assumptions about things. I’ve seen many friendships dissolve over a post that was taken the wrong way. Social media provides that false sense of security we can hide behind. People air their opinions and if disagreements happen, relationships are the causality. It’s tempting to go to social media to subtweet or shade someone about anything that annoys you. My hiatus allowed me to learn to take my issues to the person. If my parents were annoying me, I’d call them to talk out my issues. If I’m missing my grandmother, I’d plan a trip to see her instead of posting a #tbt. Taking a break from social media actually allowed me to show up in my relationships. I didn’t have access to people’s lives so if I wanted to know what was going on with them I needed to call. My hiatus highlighted who was important in my life. It’s easy to maintain relationships with people when snippets of their lives flood your news feeds. It’s more authentic to pick up the phone and call them. My sense of self-care was sharpened because I saw the need for community and the requirement of my presence in friendships for them to last.
4. Social Media isn’t the only way of finding community.
My issues with social media boil down to this. I don’t live a picture perfect life. It’s quite the opposite. My 20s have been a trainwreck with some really high mountains and some dark valleys. The mountains are great, but the valleys are what I want to share. I want to share my struggles with anxiety. I want to yell about my frustrations at work. I need a shoulder to cry on about forgotten dreams. I need a sounding board for deep faith questions. I need accountability for my convictions. I need community. My people are sprawled across the country, and the common thread that connects us all is social media. I’m watching my nieces grow up over Facetime. My best friends are new moms, and we have to coordinate phone chats around feedings. Social media provides a snapshot into their lives while we are apart, but it’s not the authentic community. Being away from social media reminded me the need I have for investing in real community. Building relationships go beyond liking and commenting. It’s calling. It’s coffee dates. It’s sacrifice. So if community is what I want, I’m going to have to invest in it.
5. Most of my frustrations are fleeting and don’t require a post.
I’m terrible about complaining on Twitter. Learning not to voice every opinion I have has taught me to not put so much energy into negativity. When things are really bothering me, social platforms aren’t the first place I should run. Prayer should be my first go-to. Learning to take my deep issues to God in prayer rather than to “ friends” on Facebook or Twitter has allowed me to go deeper in my faith by putting prayers behind the things that worry me. Instead of tweeting about how much I hate traffic in Nashville, I’m learning that I probably need to submit my anger issues to God!
The main idea from my time away from social media is this: I don’t want to pretend. I want to be authentic. I want to be vulnerable. To live the truth. To show truth to others. To build from that truth. To encourage along the way. And I can be this way with social media (if I use it correctly). Those close to me will see my posts and know where and how to invest in my life on the daily. Those who may just follow me will be able to see my life as it develops into the story that God intends it to be. The true joy of social media comes when you see the potential it has to point to the center of who you are. For me, I’m just a girl trying to be true to myself. So, here’s to living authenticly.