For me, I have come to realize that it’s not good to start my day, week, or weekend by looking at my Facebook. I suppose that’s a very generalized statement. What’s good for one may not be so good for another is really what it boils down to. But what I have come to understand about myself, is that when I look at Facebook too much, I get lonely. That may sound strange but it’s true.
When I look at my Facebook I see so much life going on in other people’s posts. And though I know everyone is posting their best days and much of it really doesn’t tell their true stories, it still makes me feel the pressure of having to keep up. What I tend to notice most are the full family experiences or the couples having a lovely vacation together. The result of those views is that I feel the pressure of wanting and needing to have like experiences and I see my life as being less than and rather dull in comparison.
As silly as it may sound, it makes me feel like the little kid looking out the window watching the other kids playing and who didn’t invite me to join in their fun. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware of the fact that no one is asking that of me. But the invisible pressure is there. I see the young families with the dads right there with moms and kids reflecting a “whole family”. An experience I didn’t get since my ex-husband left us when our children were babies.
On the other side of the spectrum, I see the retired friends traveling the world, living the fruits of their years of labor. An experience I will never have since I have spent so much of my wealth on raising a family alone. So, as I scroll through, I slowly realize that I don’t fit in on either picture. The sacrifices I made as a single parent raising a family alone for so many years are staring at me every time I open up my Facebook. The pressures I feel and the measure of comparisons I inflict on myself make me feel anxious, to say the least.
Social media and single moms.
So, if I feel like this, how do I balance the meager experience of dipping into Facebook and not let it railroad my day and thus railroad my joy? I guess I could say that this has become a bad habit that is hard to break. Who I am as a single mom does not come without its pressures of comparisons? So, I ask …does social media make us all feel somewhat adrift?
No posting. No liking. Just living.
What also worries me is the effects that social media has had on my kids since they became young adults. They also tend to compare their lives and accomplishments with those of their friends. But I have to add that the feeling of comparing themselves with others goes back to their childhoods before social media played a role. They would spend time with their friends and cousins who had what appeared to be whole families.
They would bathe in their secure environments and take mental notes. I used to feel sad that they wanted to spend so much time at their friend’s houses and not as much time bringing them over to ours. When I asked, they always said that our house was boring compared to the energy of their friends’ houses which usually bustled with kids and a mom who was equally met with a dad. They just loved the synergies of an environment with a parental force intact.
Parents who were present in the same room at the same time. Something they never experienced in their own home. As a result, they would come home and want desperately to have that same feeling in our house. And usually, I did everything I could to give them this experience. Now it was I who was motivated by the comparison and I usually created an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself because the reality was, I was just one person. I wasn’t mom and dad. I was just mom.
I live in a bizarre bedroom community that reflects a slice of time back to about 1965. Many women don’t work, and they tend to be the family model of a time I never knew. My mother worked in a career in medicine when I was growing up. The model I had was truly a woman who championed and rocked it all with 5 kids. She was so different than the other parents. Though she loved her family, she had a passion for medicine that the presence of a family could not diminish.
So, we learned that you could have it all. She had a husband who invested in her and supported her desire to be every dimension that she was entitled to be. There was nothing he could do to stop her anyway. Everything my parents learned growing up in a post-depression era, was not what my mother and father modeled to me. I grew up knowing that I could have a family and a career. In fact, my mother welded into our heads that we better be everything we were put on this earth to be.
So…. living in this community that I moved to after divorce has felt quite strange, to say the least. Now with the presence of social media, it has all developed into a big pot of physical and cyber comparisons. Comparisons which are almost impossible to measure up to.
Offline is the new luxury.
What I have decided to do in order to tackle this dilemma, is to live my best offline life. Yes, it’s true that social media is a big part of living. My life can easily be reduced to a single cell phone full of apps for every bank, cup of coffee, restaurant, uber ride, plane ticket, and shopping outlet. It has it all. Including a Facebook app ready to send my very own pictures and life experiences to.
But as I too post my experiences I realize that these are my best days I am posting as well. I don’t post my tough days. I have no need to remember them in vivid pictures and a byline. So, I have to remember that living life in the “real real” is living life offline to its fullest expression. When I am not on a business trip and relying on the Uber app for a ride to an airport I can put the phone down and just experience the people around me. I can stop to hear the sound of people, the sounds of the wind, the sound of the cars even. The sounds of life in motion.
I have photo albums of our best days as a family. And there were plenty of those days that were not posted on a social media platform. In addition, the art of writing a letter is still important to me. And happily, it is still equally important to family and friends who receive them.
I know social media platforms are an important part of life. Many things cannot be achieved outside of this medium. But I am going to remember that on the days that I am feeling “less”, I am going to stay away from clicking on the Facebook app. There is no need to be diverted to the happenings of other people’s lives when mine has so much to offer in the physical realm. Therefore, I am not going to feel guilty or experience FOMO for going off the grid every once in a while. My need to experience my real life is more important. And my gauge for doing this will simply be my own happiness barometer.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
So, on those days that dipping into your Facebook account and seeing others living their best days has already happened, just smile…wish them well….click off the app and go live your best day in real life. It will do you a world of good and it has saved my mental health on many a day!