So, I have a secret to share with you and I’m a little ashamed to admit it. But here goes…I spend way too much time on social media. Okay, not all social media. Really, it’s Facebook. I spend way too much time on Facebook. You wouldn’t know it by reading my personal feed on Facebook. A few pictures here, a couple of updates there…nothing really crazy. But I am constantly checking Facebook and reading other people’s posts on Facebook. My Facebook use started out as curiosity. But somehow, over time, it turned into an unconscious habit. I really didn’t think about it much or consider whether or not I was on it too much until one day in July when I was reading Glennon Melton’s Momasery blog. She had written a post called “Goodbye Internet” where Glennon announces that she is quitting the internet for 40 days. 40 days! When I read her post, two thoughts immediately occurred to me:
- “Wow, good for her! That’s really great!” quickly followed by…
- “There’s no way on this great earth that I’m giving up the internet for 40 days.”
I mean, what about email? What about Facebook? No Internet? Impossible! But Glennon did it! And then in September she wrote a really great post entitled, “6 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous for Me.” And I realized that she has a really good point. Six really good points actually (well she admits that she really only listed five, but who’s really counting). And those points resonated with me because they were my experience too.
Social Media can be a positive thing in our lives. It can allow us to reconnect with people from our past who we typically wouldn’t see or interact with anymore…I’m thinking friends from high school or college, colleagues from previous jobs, past neighbors. And for anyone who lives in a different city or state from family or close friends, sites like Facebook allow you to immediately share pictures or quick life updates with loved ones who you don’t get to see nearly as often as you would like. But just like anything else in life, too much of anything can be bad. Too much time on the internet (and for me, Facebook specifically) has a down side too. I sit down to check Facebook for five minutes but five minutes turns into an hour. And having a smartphone just makes my dependency easier because I can check Facebook from ANYWHERE! Case in point, I was waiting for my daughters to come out of their dance class today and I was, of course, on Facebook. I looked up from my smartphone and realized that every other mother in the room was also on her smartphone. EVERY OTHER MOTHER! Now I don’t know that they were all on Facebook, but they were almost certainly all on the internet in some form or fashion. We don’t know each others’ names or anything about each other at all, even though we sit in the same room together every week.
It occurred to me that Facebook specifically, but probably the internet in general, has become a crutch for me. I use it when I’m bored or when I’m looking to kill time between commitments. I use it when I’m feeling lonely and longing to connect with other people. And I use it as a distraction when I’m feeling stressed, upset, or any other emotion that I would rather not feel. I’ve become increasingly aware of this habit and now I’m starting to wonder what to do about it. I like Glennon’s conclusion that social media isn’t inherently good or bad but it’s more about the way in which we use it. And so I’m taking some time to consider how I’m using it, and whether or not it’s helpful or hurtful to me personally. I’ve had a couple of friends quit Facebook all together because they were unhappy with how they found themselves using it. I doubt that will be my solution. But the first step to making any change is being aware that there is a need for change. I’ve taken the first step and we’ll see what the next one will be.
Throughout the month of October, I’ll be sharing some ideas for simple changes you can make to improve your life. Did you miss a day? Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.