On balance and social media

Do you remember how just 10 years ago when you weren’t invited to something that you wouldn’t know until maybe weeks later? How if you were home on a Wednesday night, it didn’t matter what everyone else was doing because you had no way of knowing anyway? So who cares if you and your husband are putting the baby to bed and binge-watching Mozart in the Jungle and not staying out at that party? 

I miss that. I’ve been mulling over the fact that social media creates this FOMO atmosphere for stuff we probably don’t actually care about. Or we only feel like we missed out because that person chose one styled photo from the evening to make it look like you should’ve been there. We start wanting things and caring about things that don’t truly matter to us. 

Jon and I just watched a movie on Hulu called Ingrid Goes West. And woah. It's about social media fame, the idolatry, the illusions, the longing, the addiction, and the way it messes with our brains. It's a dark satirical comedy that is obviously portrayed with extremity, but gosh it makes you think. The story follows Ingrid who spends her days scrolling through Instagram and comparing her life to the lives of those she follows. She decides to befriend an instafamous girl in LA and bases her entire life on what this girl likes, what products she uses, where she eats, and her worth stems from this girl tagging her in photos and inviting her to parties. And that instafamous girl is just living a big lie. Just watch it and evaluate your relationship with social media.

I love social media. There’s no denying the millennial in me that loves it. It connects, it inspires, it tells stories. But man I miss the days where you had to pay per text and where I’d call my friends on my see-through neon green landline to see if they could come over to make up songs and put new O-Town posters on our walls. I miss that when you’d do something fun, you didn’t have a phone to take out and live stream the whole experience; you just had to be present and take it all in, recording all the details carefully to memory. The saying “if you didn’t post it, did it really happen?” would have never made sense because I was just an emo high school kid busy singing along to Copeland and hanging out at the top of Mt. Helix watching a boy break his ankles and giggling at my friends holding hands. 

What if we got outside, gathered with friends, or did something nice for someone and DIDN'T post it? What if we put our phones down and committed to being present, even if just for an hour, to enjoy where we’re at and not make it Instagram worthy? Our egos might take a hit, knowing we don’t get the praise of likes and comments telling us how awesome we are and how cool our life is. But is that such a bad thing? 

I feel like if we made it a priority to use social media as a tool for good, it could change us. I watched this movie and thought of Brighton and how as a Mom I hope to teach her that her value and worth and identity come from Jesus and not her followers. But our generation has to learn that too in order to teach it. We have to get off our phones and play with our kids. We have to leave our phones in the car and go for a walk. And I get it, social media is a business tool now. I'm not knocking that. Market your business! Get those gummy hair bear sponsorships and pay those bills. More power to ya. 

One girl that I follow shared in an interview how as she started gaining a following, she started seeing more comments like "Your life is amazing!" "I want to be you!" "I want your life!" and she said it made her sick because she didn't think she was posting a lie, but it was never the full story. The idea that she could make other girls feel that sense of longing didn't fuel her, it made her sad. She has lost her father, she was going through a divorce, and she was living in chronic pain from nerve damage to her spinal cord. She was just choosing joy every day and doing what she loved most. I love that Ruthie saw heartache, and responded with love and used social media to do that.  So, I guess what I’m trying to say is we could all use a little less “look at my awesome life!” and a little more “how can I love you better?”  And I’m guilty as charged; just another millennial trying to find balance in a social media world. ✌🏻

What are your thoughts on this? Do you struggle with identity and social media? Do you struggle with the FOMO? How do you think we can use social media as a tool to love others better instead of drawing more attention to ourselves?