I could kind of tell I needed to get off Facebook and never look back around Christmas time of 2017. I was posting in mom groups every day for the smallest inquiry instead of being self-sufficient and getting emotionally worked up by those who didn’t understand my question and hurled insults or presumptions.
I would get agitated at my children’s needs or desire to sit in my lap even while I was scrolling reading an article about how to be a better mom. I recognized the irony, but was also convinced if I deactivated my Facebook, I would feel lonely as a mostly stay at home mom to 3 tiny kids and miss out on some enriching reading.
The addiction was strong! Before my eyes adjusted to waking, I’d have my app opened to see who thought I was funny or had cute, sweet kids. I once ran a red light with my children in the van scrolling and I wish I could say it woke me up, but it didn’t. I am so terrified of the onslaught of comments I could receive for this admission that I may delete it before I hit publish. At night, I’d claim it was my “me time” and lay awake for several hours looking at mindless posts which exhausted me for my next morning’s job of corralling 3 toddlers. Which in turn led me to carb and junk loading for momentary energy.
I was scared to log off and feel alone with just me myself and 3 tiny kids, I take solace knowing anyone who is a mom would read that statement with complete understanding and zero judgement. Being a mom is a lonely job.
I decided to do a social media free 2018, and though I lasted 8 months instead of 12, I was able to log back on with a renewed attitude after I’d realized some things.
The first few months of having no social media were strange because it was like I’d wired my head to think in terms of posts. How can I phrase this unfortunate toddler mishap to be a funny mom life quip? On the one hand, I’d told myself that being raw and transparent and posting about real life was helping others. But on the other hand, it was hurting ME. Being so logged in, but so disconnected. I realized people’s lives were still happening without me sharing my best potty training tip in a funny take-it-from-me post. So getting my brain to think in a way that was not tailored for posting to social media was both freeing and rejuvenating. It was so tiring and I never saw it. I had this idea that because I did share so much that people were now entitled to EVERYTHING. Whether I wanted to share it or not, I felt an obligation and duty. Every snipet and low, I thought I owed it to the world.
I was beginning to have more patience with my children. I assume since I didn’t always having something important like scrolling Facebook to “get back to” and what’s MORE is that THEY didn’t seem so difficult...could my constant phone scrolling have caused them to ask for attention in less than preferable ways? YEP. 100%. There’s a direct causation effect in my home with the picking up of a phone whether to talk on or look at, and my children going wild.
The next couple of months I discovered that not only could we survive as a family without mom groups, but that I LIKED the silence and felt more connected than ever because I texted my friends and shared in depth things personally with them, just us, without posting something for tons of people uninvolved to be reading. And that was a relief to me because I knew whichever friend I was sharing with didn’t need me to preface my comments with a disclaimer about who I am even though I need to say this. They knew. They know me. It strengthened my existing relationships and it required some effort but was worth it.
As an amateur writer, I’d had things flowing through my head for years to write all the time, but during my season off social media I did not think of a single thing to write! Not one! And it was glorious. I was totally relaxed and free knowing that if God had given me the ability to write, He’d give me something to say when it was time to speak again.
The weekend before I logged back in, I took a ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin by myself to visit a girlfriend for a girls weekend. On the top deck of that ferry with nothing to see but dark blue fresh water and light blue clear sky and wind so loud I couldn’t think was the most serene and unplugged experience of my life. I felt like I could BREATHE. It didn’t occur to me to take a picture until later when I saw others snapping selfies. I felt free in a lot of different senses and grateful.
Several family members missed seeing pictures of the kids and commented on it frequently, but I didn’t feel guilted into coming back on. I logged back on because I wanted to and felt ready. I deleted a lot of people I felt I needed to explain myself to constantly and unfollowed even more, so that when I am on, I am not comparing my life and also so that Facebook isn’t very interesting to me with only the posts of 12 people. But it also doesn’t unnerve me either or get me riled up. I left almost every group and unfollowed them all, leaving a couple up for searching recipes and remedies in.
As for the unnerving, I realized anything I read from another that gets me so upset and feels directed at me, was my insecurity being triggered. I never knew how insecure I am. How much my identity lies in things other than God. My husband loves me to the ends of the earth, but would never brag about me in a post so seeing women tagged in posts like that made me feel like I wasn’t as wonderful as them or had some improving to do before I earned a bragging post. Untrue. Lie from the pits. That was insecurity. A mom who had a perfectly tidy house made me feel like I couldn’t get my life together. How can she be on Facebook all day and still keep everything in order? Insecurity. Prettier women than me, smarter women than me, college graduates, mothers with 6 packs or any packs, nice hair, more style, I could spend the NEXT 8 months making posts that trigger my insecurity. But. Now I KNOW. God has shown me, and I can work on affirming who I am.
This blog post isn’t a finger pointing, or a shame thrower. No one owes me an explanation about how much or the why. Everybody has their own experiences with the way social media impacts them, this is just mine...through a Karbon filter.