A recent study by the Public Library of Science shows that the more somebody uses Facebook, the more their satisfaction of life decreases. Apparently, many frequent Facebookers are scrolling through their newsfeeds feeling bad because they don't think their own lives stack up to the fabulous accomplishments, vacations, and photoshopped and filtered images they are seeing plastered on their computer screens. I love social media just as much as the next person, with the ability to easily stay in touch with long distance friends and family and to reach a broader audience with my blog posts. However, the dark side is it can cause some to experience negative feelings, which can morph into criticism, judgement and competition with others or even depression and lowered feelings of self.
The deeper concern here is looking inward, not externally, for peace and adopting an "I am enough" mentality. We will never be happy when comparing to others. But, before taking that deep dive, it is important to scratch the surface and for people need to realize that social media is not even the real deal. It is simply a snapshot of a life -- the very best moments that we all choose to share with our audience.
If I take a closer look at my own life and that of those in my social circle, there are many of us modern day "super-women" types out there. We use our powers to do cool things like create beautiful babies, build a kick-ass career, leap tall hobbies and ambitions in a single bound, make the world a better place, and look darn good doing it all! Some run their households like a tight ship carting the kids to school and various extracurricular activities with ease, whipping up healthy and Pinterest-worthy meals without breaking a sweat, and a keeping spotless house.
While juggling such full plates with style and grace and making a difference in the world is certainly commendable, don't you often wonder what is really going on behind the scenes?
Here's a peek into my own life. Just last week, I was thanking my lucky stars for a busy day at the office as my tech company was finally picking up a little steam after a very lackluster 2012. I was happily bouncing from customer call to PO processing to, oh crap! I was running late (again) in leaving to get my 5-year-old daughter to dance class. Little twang of mommy guilt ensues. Later, I was playing outside with my girls, when I realized "oh crap" (again), as it just dawned on me that I forgot to reply to an important client email that I had promised to deliver. Ugh. Time to whip out the iPhone and sneak in a quickie one-handed email while bouncing the baby on one hip and pushing the 5-year-old in the swing. People seem to get the impression that I totally have my sh*t together, but honestly it's a never-ending quest for balance! I have to work really hard on it and often come up short.
And, sure, if I invite you over for dinner, my house is going to be squeaky clean, smelling divine, and I will be fresh-faced and greet you with a big smile, ready to be your hostess with the mostest. But, if you show up at my house unannounced, expect to find me in yoga pants, no makeup, possibly un-showered, frazzled, with kids and animals running around, toys strewn all about, and a possibly a mystery smell in the air. It could be cat box, dirty diaper, garbage that needs to go out, or smelly dog. Hopefully, it's not me!
What is my point with all this? I'm just keeping it real. It gets messy behind the scenes. People usually post the happy and photogenic moments to share with their virtual followings, and I'm not going to judge that. I mostly do the same. Frankly, nobody wants to see photos of me un-showered, in my yoga pants and with regurgitated baby food stains on my shirt. Nor do I want to share every gut-wrenching decision I have to make or twang of mommy guilt that comes my way. And, I cringe anytime I see people post all their dirty laundry on social media. (I'm so not going there!) But, that doesn't mean there is not a deeper story going on. The same applies to everyone online.
Think about an iceberg and how the majority of it is underwater and out of site to the naked eye. What people choose to share on social is just the tip of their iceberg. While social media can be a great way to keep in touch, it is no substitute for in-person interaction, and you have to realize that you are only getting a small glimpse into peoples lives -- usually the highlights reel.
To have your social media and your happiness too, some lessons to take from this are:
- Limit your social media browsing. Study after study continues to bring its dark side to light. Like all good things, moderation is key. If you are slightly obsessed (and, yes, it can be highly addicting), try setting time limits or even take a little time off. Enjoy your newfound happiness!
- Spend time doing what you love. What are you super passionate about? What works in your life for you and your family?? If you invest all of your time and energy diving deeply into whatever passion burns inside of you, then you will simply not have the time or energy to aimlessly peruse the internet all day. Fall in love with you and chase your dreams. You are amazing and have much to offer the world.
- Remember all that glitters is not gold. Behind every shiny and polished exterior, there is most definitely a deeper story sure to include some struggle and sacrifice that has gone on behind-the-scenes. Remind yourself that what you are seeing is only one snapshot of reality. Don't do the comparison thing! Just don't. You are enough.
- Take notice and log off. If you notice yourself feeling a little down or upset when browsing Facebook, then that is a major sign its time to log off for a bit. There was life before social media -- remember? Sometimes less is more. Get yourself out into the real world and live it up! And no need to post all about it, either. Spend that time actually enjoying and savoring each moment.
- Spend more time face to face. This same study associated spending more time interacting with real people with an increase in life satisfaction. Go figure. You get much more of the real enchilada in the flesh than on the computer screen, anyway. Spending more time being "real" social makes for both healthier relationships and self-image. Get some friends together and leave your iPhone off. (Just for an hour or two. The world won't end -- I promise!)
- Don't hate, elevate! Remember, the life you are currently living is a byproduct of the thoughts and choices you have made along the way. If you are feeling a little down or even a little envious, don't beat yourself up about it. It is just a gentle nudge for you to look deeper inside and figure out what direction you want or need to go with your own life. So, choose wisely how you react. Don't let those feelings turn toxic. Instead, bless and congratulate others. Then take that positive energy and use it towards working on elevating your own existence. You have infinite potential!
What about you? Are you addicted to social? Are you one to "put it all out there" or just the highlights like most people? Have you witnessed or experienced a correlation with too much social and a decline in happiness? Sound off in the comments below!
For more by Dawn Gluskin, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.