Where Do You Draw The Line with Social Media?

I have a love hate relationship with social media. I don’t think I”m wrong in stating that this is the norm. At least once a week I have a Facebook friend who declares they are deactivating their account forever, and then they return a week later with a rant about Comcast and selfies with their dog.

We can’t stay away.

It’s simple enough to see that social media has changed our world drastically in a short matter of time. Now, we cannot imagine a world without it. We check it countless times a day, we share what we are eating, where we are going, what we are buying. We share our views on current events, complain about the jerk at Starbucks and humblebrag about our gym workouts. It’s what we do. And that is fine.

 But when does the net of the world-wide web become less of a way to reach out and grow and more of a trap. When does social media hinder us from actually being social?

Don’t mistake me, I love many things about Facebook and Instragram and Twitter. I enjoy seeing what close friends who live states away are up to every week. I’m the girl who will actually click-through all 122 pictures of your beach vacation. I enjoy browsing through the adorable photos of your kids and your pets. I like to see the life updates of acquaintances; new jobs, engagements, weddings, babies, new homes, graduations. I like seeing you do fun and happy things with your loved ones.

I enjoy celebrating and documenting my life and updating friends and family on outings, life updates, and fun photos. I support your choices and will validate them with likes galore.

But somewhere I have to draw a line.  Lately I’m becoming more and more angry with social media. Lately it feels like the rude uninvited party guest that crashes the party, eats the last of the nachos, brags about how awesome their life is, talks badly about every guest behind their backs, and makes you go home early feeling miserable about yourself. 

Social media has every characteristic of a toxic friend:

It’s Rude: Social media intrudes into every aspect of our lives. It’s there in between my husband and I in bed. In the morning we both reach for our phones rather than reaching for each other. On our commutes we bury our heads in our phones, scrolling through our Instagram and Twitter feeds instead of having some quiet contemplation time. We sit down to catch up with our spouse and refer constantly to “awesome” articles we read online, or a blog post that caught our attention, or the newest cat video. It’s hard to imagine a conversation that does not include at least one reference to something we saw online.

Are we even thinking for ourselves anymore? At get togethers with friends, Facebook is causing silence as we “check in” to restaurants and share pictures of our meals and post statuses saying what an awesome time we are having. But are we?

It’s Needy: Social media sucks us in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost 30 minutes or more of my life just trolling through Facebook and Twitter. How many times I’ve back stalked someone on Facebook or looked through countless photo albums. Or when one link on twitter leads to reading 6 BuzzFeed articles. Social Media is that annoying friend that says you never spend enough time with them. They always want more. 

It makes us feel miserable: People only present their ideal lives on social media. You will never see people posting repeatedly about their colic baby, their vomiting dog, their annoying in-laws, their leaky roof, or how their spouse is driving them absolutely nuts. Social media bullies us into thinking our lives are miserable compared to what we see online. Similarly it also makes us feel like our lives aren’t worth living unless we have perfect things to share online. The comparison games leaves us feeling joyless and worthless. We think the things that makes us happy aren’t true unless someone validates them. 

It’s a Dictator: The other week I was catching up with a friend at her house when I witnessed her baby walk from one end of the room to the other. I let our a “woot!” and asked when this milestone happened. My friend responded, “oh last week, didn’t you see the video I posted on Facebook?”. Unless you are constantly checking your feed your are apt to miss out on people’s exciting news.I can’t tell you the last time I had a lengthy phone call with a friend or when news was spread personally rather than a big announcement on social media.

Facebook dictates social news. It has taken over as the way to learn about your friends lives, rather than actually, you know, be social with them on a one to one situation. 

It delivers false promises: Social media promises to make us feel connected to one another. In turn we feel the need to constantly check our news feeds, fearing that we may miss out on some fun story, news, or event. We want to be part of everything. But our FOMO (fear of missing out) makes us so disconnected from ourselves, our needs, that we eventually miss out on what is most important – what makes us happy as individuals.

We are promised community a place to share ourselves and find someone else that will say, “me too!” Instead we have turned into a society of people so desperate for a sense of connection that we sit with our eyes buried in social media blind to the fact that our loved one sits right next to us doing exactly the same. 

Has social media made us all socially awkward? Has it made us lose touch with our independence? In a world of selfies have we lost all sense of self? We declare that selfies are a way to show our uniqueness, our own special beauty. But if we are all so proud of our own beauty, why do we need to share it 5 times a day and constantly check to see how many likes we have received?

Where is the line drawn between sharing, documenting or celebrating your life and searching to one up your friends and acquaintances and prove that you live a worthy life?

I don’t know how to escape it when it’s all around us. We’re headed to Jamaica for a family vacation soon and even my mom was surprised when I said I wasn’t going to take advantage of the free wi-fi at the resort. Escape is hard to find when you live in a world where everyone around you is dependent on social media.

I find a time everyday where I simply put down the phone. We try to have a no phones allowed time each night and stay off of Facebook in bed. But when our cellphones are the only way for family and friends to reach us in times of emergency we can’t simply put down the phone and walk away for a long period of time. 

So I want to know. Where do you draw the line with social media?

xoxo Katie

  • Pat (Mom)

    I WAS a little surprised when you shared your desire to go internet free on our vacation. But now I find myself actually looking forward to a break from Facebook, Instagram, and email. Let’s just put up our feet, talk with each other, and celebrate our fun times together!

    • kwalshmac

      I get so angry when I can feel in controlling my life! You mentioned the fact that we will have so many pretty pictures….think of all the vacations you took before social media, you remember them just fine without taking a picture every 10 minutes, right?! I’m so guilty of it all. I need to break away from this dirty habit 🙂

  • This is so good! And at the same time- I let out a big “UGH!” reading this because I am guilty guilty guilty with all of this. When I’m with my family, I tend to leave my phone in my purse, in the closet… just so I can really focus on my fam and hubby! And my hubby and I made a new rule a few months ago, no phones, laptops, iPads, or anything else like that in bed after 10p. Also while at dinner… we either don’t bring our phones or just turn them off. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely helped.

    • kwalshmac

      I”m so guilty too! Even though I posted this yesterday, my husband yelled at me when he caught me scrolling through my phone during a commercial break last night. It’s like we can’t have one single second of thinking for/entertaining ourselves! I love your rule of no media in the bed after 10pm! Studies show that is disrupts your sleep patterns as well. I like to do one weekend day without anything – but then we still have to carry our phones around in case of emergency phone calls. Can’t break away completely!

  • all very good points!! i think i want to start going back to the “old fashioned” way of sharing good and big news- email those close to me the news! maybe post it on social media a day or two later for my lurking fans (haha). but it is sad we love social media so much. i was even guilty of lurking it while on my honeymoon (at least i only had 2 posts over a week). def made me think to maybe slow my social media roll!

    • kwalshmac

      I know, even though I hate talking on the phone, I miss getting one on one news and “shrieking” with happiness rather than simply hitting “like”. There’s a time and place for everything, right?! At least you only allowed yourself two little posts on the honeymoon. I can’t wait to just put my phone in the room safe while in Jamaica.

  • this is so true! I am constantly questioning the line of social media in my life. i work in social media so I can’t really ever quit it but sometimes I find myself leaving my phone at home when I walk to the grocery store or post office just so I’m not buried in my phone the whole time! i also really try (but often) fail at leaving my phone in my purse when I’m with friends because lately i’ve just noticed that it’s overtaking our lives! there’s this great video on this exact topic called look up that you should check out. it’s really moving!

    • kwalshmac

      I love that video!! I think we should watch it every week as a reminder haha! I try to so hard to leave my phone in my purse when I’m out with friends, except then everyone else has their phone out and I’m the odd duck out. It’s sad. I’m so glad I have a big ole messy purse that my phone easily gets lost in haha!

  • Seriously the best post ever. It has all the characteristics of a toxic friend…you always amaze me with your creativity!

    • kwalshmac

      Thank you! There has to be a happy medium of turning it from a toxic friend to an acceptable acquaintance.

  • Seriously Katie, I can’t even handle you. Like every single post you’ve written in the past two months has been pure gold. I don’t know how you do it.
    This is another one. I love this.
    Oh my gosh, that swearing it off only to always come back kind of drives me crazy. One of my old HS classmates has done that, like literally, at least five times. A few times, she HAS deactived, and then a few days later she’s all “i’m back! and i hate my job. and my boyfriend is a jerk. and i’m tired. yolo.” *sighs.
    I also get really tired of FB specifically because it blurred this line of privacy we used to have. To me, the point of it is to stay in touch with eachothers lives. So like you said, yes I want to see your vacation photos and updates about your kids and pets. I want to know about your job promotions and when you buy a house and whatnot. Two things specially bother the crap out of, and I think it has no place on Facebook. One is pointless and weird or gross oversharing. I’m not even kidding, a few months ago I saw a status from a different HS classmate who told us that she just dropped a soggy cheerio and it slid down between her boobs and landed on her belly and she had to peel it off her body. Are you kidding me? That is not the information I need to know about your life. The second is a political rant. I have a few friends of friends who consistently post updates I strongly disagree with, but the point is that they’re filled with ignorance and hate and judgement about others, and I feel like you ranting that Obama is a piece of crap, or that gay marriage is wrong, or whatever your opinion is, they do it in a way that is so one-sided I can’t stand it. Again, I’m here to see photos of your dogs, NOT hear you tell me that I’m stupid because I believe in gun safety or something. If you want a place to ramble about your views in a way that’s not kind and understanding, write in a diary or start a blog, but I don’t want it shoved down my throat on Facebook.
    Holy crap I think this is the longest comment I have ever left. I am so sorry, haha!

    • kwalshmac

      Amanda, that means so much to me! I”m so glad you’ve been enjoying the posts.
      And ugh I’m so with you on the oversharing. Or the checking in every little place you go. I don’t need to know when you’re at the grocery store or the gym or the vet. That Cheerio story just made me shudder! I don’t mind the ranting AT ALL because me, and I think many others, are right there with you. It’s so strange how so many people share these thoughts and yet none of us can step away. The political rants are the worst to me.

  • Katie…you really hit the nail on the head with this post. It’s so perfectly written! My Facebook account got hacked a few years ago and I came off Facebook for a year. It was pure bliss. Lately, I’ve been considering deactivating my account. I’ll let you know if I get around to it.

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