Something has really been on my heart lately. Maybe it stemmed from the social media break I took for 30 days. When I first went back to social media, I was not on as much as I had been, but I had noticed something. We as a society are depending WAY too much on social media for our relationships.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love to be able to share pictures of my little family with my friends and family that live far away. In that case, I think it is a wonderful tool! I also LOVE the community that I have built off my blog. A lot of days they are the reason for the fire in my heart to keep moving forward with this whole thing! However, when it comes to sustaining real, strong, healthy relationships, I am starting to feel that social media is hurting us more than it is helping us.
Here is a perfect example. While I was on my break, I knew that my cousin’s birthday was coming up, but I could not for the life of me remember the exact date. Previously, I would wait for Facebook to tell me so I could add a “Happy Birthday message” on her wall, along with the other 200+ people wishing her a happy birthday the same way. Well, I missed her birthday. Ugh, I’m the worst. Once I realized this I sent her a text message and apologized. I let her know that I was in the middle of a social media break and that because I depended on Facebook to tell me her birthday I missed it. That it was no excuse but that I needed her to know why I had missed it. Now writing this out I am actually proud and disappointed in myself. Proud that I named my error and was honest with her. Disappointed because why did I not pick up the phone and call her? Didn’t she deserve a call and not a text message?
Which brings me to my next point. If I looked at my phone bill the amount of text messages verses the number of minutes on a phone call would be embarrassing. Anyone else? No one, including myself, picks up the phone and calls anyone anymore. Everyone is so “busy” that they are unable to take five minutes and call a loved one or a friend to just say hi and catch up. Instead, we depend on social media to tell us what is going on in each other's lives or send text messages to get information across. I’ll be honest, if my phone rings I actually get nervous that something is wrong and that is why they are calling me. That’s right, because no one calls me so I assume the worst.
Let’s be real here, Facebook is Fakebook. People aren’t always being real on social media. They are sharing the version of themselves they want you to see, not what is really going on in their lives. Why would they? When it’s bad, that’s hard and why would you want to share that? But when it’s good, we scream that from the rooftops. If all we are seeing is everyone's good times though, we have an unrealistic picture of what real life looks like. Then what do we do next? We start comparing our lives to their lives and the shame game in our minds starts. This is something I wrote about recently. You can find it here. If I’m only sharing the good stuff and not the bad, someone looking into my life thinks that I have it all under control. That I am a perfect mother, wife, friend and sister. When realistically, I am far from perfect and actually ordinary with some pretty cute kids. Nothing special here. I mean, I start most of my days in tears from fighting with my four year old. Think I put that on social media? Nope, but I actually thought about it. Or if you saw my post on Facebook recently, you would have seen that I actually wasn’t in a good place and was really struggling. I felt like I needed to put it out there because I wanted others to know that it is okay to not be okay every once in a while.
Now think about this. If we picked up the phone and actually connected with one another, we might be able to hear from their voices that they are struggling, or have something going on that they are not sharing on social media. Reality is that we are not in fact doing this because we are all so “connected” online and have constant access to those we care about.
Personally I have had some family members reach out to me and let me know they miss me and my family or feel disconnected from us, especially during my time offline. I remind them that we all have telephones and know each other's phone numbers and can give each other a call or even Facetime at any point. Oftentimes the next statement that I get is “But you have such a busy life, you don’t have time to talk on the phone.” Or “I don’t want to interrupt what you have going on.” I will say to you what I say to them, which is said with so much love, “That is none of your concern. If we are unable to answer, we won’t. If we are able to chat we will answer the phone. If you choose not to reach out, that’s on you, not me.”
I used to be a strong believer that social media was a blessing to reconnect us with people we were disconnected from. Now I am starting to believe that it is in fact disconnecting us from the people we need to be truly connected with.
Have you experienced something similar? Living in a world that is so connected, do you ever feel disconnected? One challenge I am creating for myself is that when it is someone’s birthday, I am picking up the phone and calling them, not putting it on social media or sending a text message. If I love them enough to want to send them birthday wishes, I want it to be more intentional and personal so we feel connected to one another.
Is there something you could do to feel more connected? How about sending personal notes via the mail? Or calling someone every Sunday to have a conversation and see how things are going? What could you do to feel more connected? Who knows, you might inspire someone to do something similar.
It is hard I know and I don’t expect everyone to just stop using social media to communicate with people. I just want to acknowledge that the feeling of disconnect that you might have, it’s real and probably hurts. So let’s make a change and start reconnecting with our friends and loved ones. Remember, sometimes we need to disconnect in order to reconnect with what is really important in our lives.
Continue your journey to be the best version of YOU, unapologetically.