The double-edged sword of social media can mean while it breaks down barriers and connects us with others, it can also make us feel more and more disconnected.
My soul is too sensitive for this world sometimes.
The noise, the onslaught of information, the ease at which it seeps into my world the moment my guard is down. My phone is too easy an out for those moments when my world is too much – like reaching for a piece of chocolate when you feel fat.
It’s the poison we know we shouldn’t have, but is exactly what we crave. And give into.
And then, we find ourselves in the spiral of social: looking at everyone else’s perfect lives, judging our own, and missing what is right in front of us.
I’ve realised that despite what I do for a living, the world of social media is too much for me most days. More and more, I am noticing the effect the scrolling and the reading and the checking is having on me – there’s a noise that I can’t quieten because it’s constantly being filled with other people’s stuff.
And over the years of me (ironically) sharing my own life on social media, I have discovered that every time I feel something as deeply as this and share it, you come with a resounding ‘me too’.
So here goes.
I’m over the comparisons. It actually brings tears to my eyes thinking about how the onslaught of false images and unrealistic expectations affects mamas who are struggling more than I am. I’m over feeling the pressure to post, the pressure to respond, the pressure! I’m over hearing my kids ask for my phone, or to turn on Netflix, or to watch something instead of getting outside on the trampoline or pull out the colouring books. And I’m over my husband reaching for his phone all the time too.
But, truth be told, I’m just over my own actions.
I know how much social media can connect us with others going through the same thing. My business would be nothing without it, and as my interview with Midnight Mums founder Bridget showed, that online group of women can be your saving grace in the middle of the night.
However, when it becomes the first and only thing you reach for in those moments of overwhelm AND those moments of pure joy, we’ve got a problem.
As mama and writer Christy Ismay says on her blog ‘Not Another Supermum’, social media has “added this whole level of anxiety around being a mum. The beautiful sleeping bub pic does not show the sleepless night that his mum had the night before, or the tears that are shed because she is finding feeding really hard and painful. The family selfie, where everyone is smiling and obviously having bucket loads of fun, does not show the argument that the kids had in the backseat of the car ten minutes prior, telling each other that they hate each other.
“I am making my behind-the-scenes sound horrible. It is far from it. But it’s not easy and it’s definitely not accurately depicted through the series of beautiful photos that I am constantly bombarding my poor FB friends with!
“There are lots of articles circulating about being an honest parent and not glossing over how hard being a parent can often be. Well, my first move is to take a break from Facebook. I do love seeing the lives of old friends unfold into adulthood. The girls that I remember as awkward teenagers or uni students, teetering on that line between child and adult, are all getting married, having kids, building houses and succeeding in amazing careers. And I love sitting back and watching it. But we haven’t always had this selective, constant insight into everyone else’s life and sometimes we just need a break. We need to remember that the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlights reel.”
So here’s how: Set yourself some mini boundaries: no phones in the bedroom, no phones until after school drop off. Have at least one day a week in which you DO NOT open social media. It’s crazy that this seems so difficult (and believe me, it will be at first!), but a Sunday free of scrolling or filtering will feel so so good. And – perhaps most importantly of all – if you see your kids do something cute, beautiful, funny, take a photo of it with your mind. Be in the moment. Take it in with all of your senses.
Just as this amazing short-film highlights in all its in-your-face confronting way (can you see yourself in this at all, mamas?), we’re missing out on our lives. We’re missing the whole damn thing. So now, when I reach for my phone, I’m going to try and pause and ask ‘what am I really reaching for right now?’
And I know, the answer will always be connection.