I check my Facebook and Instagram several times a day. Okay, more than several. I don’t understand Twitter, and Snapchat confuses me. The filters are funny, but aside from that, I don’t get it. And, I believe that we can form bonds with people we only know through social media, for example, I truly love my social media besties, Jen Hatmaker and Kristen Howerton even if they don’t know who I am!
Social media gives me an opportunity to stay connected with far-away friends and family (and near-away friends and family whom I just don’t see often enough). I love “liking” things and I hope that people receiving the “likes” feel even a small sense of appreciation and love.
I typically think I am a person who is not prone to worrying what people think of me or my accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit of a people-pleaser. I want those around me to be happy, preferably with me, but since becoming a mother 6 years ago, I had to throw my perfectionist behaviors out the window. I have no capacity to strive for perfection anymore. My goal is “good enough,” and I’ve accepted that there’s nothing wrong with that. It might sound like settling, but motherhood has been such a challenging journey, I count it a success if we’re all surviving and (mostly) happy. That’s why it caught me a little off guard when although I was running short on time to take a picture of my son before school one day, I still felt compelled to get the background just right so there wouldn’t be clutter on the fireplace mantle. I mean, the library books in a stack might tell people that we read, or that we borrow books from our local library. Supporting the local library is such an embarrassment. Why would I want people to see that, right?! So, as I thought about what I was doing and why I was moving the piles of books, I realized I was perhaps a little more caught up in my image than I would want to think.
When I scroll through Instagram and Facebook, I see perfect houses, awesome family moments and artistic pictures. I begin to feel a bit discouraged about myself and my #momming ability. I develop FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and pull out my already busy calendar to see where I can add in extra activities that I saw Instagrammed that looked like something that my little family absolutely CANNOT miss.
Truthfully, I have begun to realize that I sometimes let the pressures of seeing the perfect “Instagram-worthy” pictures become my filter. I have feelings of insecurity that the activities I do with my family aren’t quite special enough to share. When I look through Instagram, I can begin to feel my life isn’t exactly #instaworthy. When these thoughts go through my mind, I give myself the get-it-together speech! How ridiculous is it that I have let social media have so much power over me? When I realize I am (at 40 years old) feeling peer pressure, I need to take a step back and unplug. (And I do realize the irony of what I’m saying here when you’re likely reading this on your phone.) I’ve had several friends who have periodically removed social media off their smart phones so that they limit their exposure throughout the day.
I don’t have all the answers about the best way to handle social media, but when I begin to feel a little self-critical of my parenting, I stop and think about why. I realize it is often connected to my feelings that I am not doing enough social media worthy activities. While Instagram is a wonderful way to chronicle the parenting journey, I have been making efforts to soak in the moments and THEN click a pic. I’m also reminding myself that even though I may not feel like my life is perfect, it’s my beautiful little family I’m criticizing! I don’t want to change them (well maybe a little less whining and more taking a shower the first time I ask!) but what I can change is my exposure to the things that make me want to tweak them a little in the first place.