Unrelated but cute pic of Reese crashing in the big kid car seat on vacation
About once a year I start getting really fed up with the internet. And of course it isn’t the internet – if you’re the person who blames “social media” or “the internet” or “the world” for the ills in your life then you’re accepting no responsibility. The internet is what we make of it. We have the self-control and curation powers to cater our own internet experience.
And I can tell when I’ve started to do a terrible job of self-control and curating my feed. I’m constantly irritated by everything I see and read, but still checking it an insane amount of times each day. I hate everyone, and I feel like everyone hates me too. I get offended by everything I see, resist the frequent urge to pick fights or hurt feelings intentionally, and I take what I’m experiencing from the screen into my real life. It just feels messy and stupid all around.
It always seems to happen to me during the summer. I’m not sure why. There were a lot of other contributing factors – my first trimester fatigue, this decaying roadkill carcass of an election, celebrity drama, mommy wars, good and bad things happening in the lives of others… The landscape of social media is always changing, for good and bad, and sometimes it’s just a little much to keep up with.
I LOVE social media. And I never want to be the kind of person who is like “Oh I’m leaving social media! It’s just SO toxic!!!” because let’s be real – everyone rolls their eyes at those people. It’s just always a good reminder to me that if I’m not loving my experience online that it’s time for me to take a step back and remember that *I’m* in the driver’s seat.
If I’m bugged I really only have myself to blame. If I’m bugged there are solutions/reasons that are all within my control:
- I need to unfollow or block the person/account/blog
- I need to increase the ratio of positive to negative in my feed
- Something makes me uncomfortable or offends me because it’s right about me, and I don’t like that
- I’m guilty or doing something wrong or being unChristlike in some way
- I need to find a way to respect the opinions of others and humble myself – because contrary to MY popular belief I don’t actually have all the answers
The week before we went to Disneyland I decided to step back from social media for a week. I checked in a couple of times when I needed to do Harry Potter Book Club stuff, to post/share my blog, and to Instagram Reese because she turned 18 months and was being super cute. It was really really nice. I highly recommend it to everyone, because it gives you time and perspective.
This time I found basically the same thing that I wrote about 2 years ago, which makes me happy because I think it’s good: I miss PEOPLE. I miss pleasant interactions, complimenting others, knowing what’s going on in their life. I felt the sweet relief with 7 days of none of those things that bugged me, but I definitely missed my online friends. It’s a reminder of what social media should be – friends and happy interactions.
I returned with a clear picture of that, ready to ruthlessly edit my online experience to fit the vision of a social media world where I’m happy, healthy, and not addicted to pointless or negative fluff. Until I logged back into everything and started to RAGE.
You know what I didn’t miss, and was thrown back into PAINFULLY?
- 6, I am not kidding, 6 different MLM groups. IN A WEEK YOU GUYS.
- A billion political posts and I hate them all no matter what they say or who they support because they just incite friction!
- Complainers who only complain
- People bragging or glamorizing (for lack of a better word?) about their immaturity, mistakes, or mental illness. Twitter is such an echo chamber for this unfortunately.
- Backhanded remarks about other people’s parenting or thinly veiled critiques of parenting/discipline methods disguised as promotions of their own preferred parenting/discipline methods
- Criticisms of the Church, Mormons, Mormon culture
- Any of the sudden and passionate liberal opinions of my students who are now college freshman
- Anything posted by anyone over the age of 40
- Disheartening and scary news about sexism and misogyny, and the ensuing backlash of militant feminism
The hard thing about coming back to this is that I’m not altogether sure how to best deal with all of these. Quitting Facebook would eliminate a lot of this, but it’s the very best place for Harry Potter Book Club and drives most of my traffic for this blog. It’s also where most of my extended family gets updates on my life and communicates with our entire family. I have hid a lot of people, and I just try to avoid Facebook at all costs, but I don’t think I’ll ever completely leave Facebook.
Unfollowing on Twitter helps, but often it’s people that I really like or who very occasionally post things on that list so it’s probably more just taking better care mentally and spiritually to be in a place where those things don’t bother me. That’s on me. I know I have a lot of issues with feeling superior and judging others. I need to have more compassion and humility.
That being said, it’s taking everything in me to not write a huge, impassioned post about MLMs. I’m so done with them, you guys. SO. DONE. I can’t believe Facebook doesn’t have a setting that says “Require my permission before allowing someone I haven’t talked to in years to add me to a stupid Jamberry/Lularoe/Lipsense group.” For now I’m leaving the groups like a dad fleeing a bridal shower. But it still bugs me so much that I HAVE to, you know? #firstworldprobs #entitlement
The big realization for me during that week away from social media is that I’m a mom now. I mean, I’m not just realizing that now, obviously. But I’m realizing it in the context of social media. I cannot allow myself to be tossed about by social media. I can’t allow other people, accounts, articles, or shares to affect my mood in a way that could change my parenting to be anything but better.
So that’s my new mantra. That’s my North Star.
Is this going to make me a better mom? Is this going to help my parenting?
The Beard often rolls his eyes when I talk about “my online friends,” but I can genuinely say that this online community of friends that I’ve been privileged to assemble really does make me a better mom about 95% of the time. Tweeting jokes, texting questions, sharing fails and wins honestly makes me a better, more grateful, more mindful mother. It’s a mom tribe of which I’m very lucky to be a part.
For everything else – if it has no effect on my parenting and doesn’t drag down my mood, then game on. Hopefully it enriches my life, motivates, inspires, strengthens me as a person and mother. But as soon as the barometer turns to negativity, second-guessing, unhealthy comparison, or irritation – it has to go. And suddenly with Reese (and new baby!) in perspective it’s pretty easy for me to draw the lines I need.
It was also a sharp reminder that this is a two-way street. In order for the internet and social media to be the positive and happy place I want it to be, I need to contribute. I need to be sharing the type of stuff that uplifts and strengthens others. I can’t contribute to the black tar of negativity that lies on the sticky floor of the internet. I’m too snarky too often. If you know me in real life you know that I’m actually a very bubbly, optimistic, cheerful personality. Why not bring a little more of that to the internet? I shall.
I missed you guys. I missed the positive. I missed the inspiration. I missed the motivation to be as cool and funny and awesome as you all. I am happy to be back.