I enjoy social media. My favourite has to be Twitter – I even have a Twitter picture on my wall (my bedroom wall, not Facebook wall… when did a wall become something more than a wall? I’ve said ‘wall’ to much). Twitter is my guilty pleasure and it is a fun time waster. I like it because often it’s informative depending on who you follow (Twitter followers, not actually stalking someone – but then you can stalk someone online… oh the modern age…). For me, Twitter is like reading the morning paper as I often read articles pulled from a wide variety of sources.
Then there’s Facebook. The only reason I have Facebook is for writing/promotion/work and a quick way to message my friends. Admittedly, I’ve become pretty poor at keeping in contact and initiating contact (apologies to everyone who it looks like I have ignored).
However, I have a confession to make.
If we are friends on Facebook, the chances are I have unfollowed you. This means I am not as informed with what is going on in your life so I don’t like, comment or share your posts as much. And it’s nothing personal. Honestly. I haven’t unfriended you. Besides, if we have to prove our friendship by our connection on Facebook, I would argue that our friendship is questionable and the foundation is shaky!
I made the decision to unfollow everyone because of my mental health. I found myself feeling low as I scrolled through the seemingly perfect lives of my Facebook Newsfeed. It is indeed my problem and I feel like I have dealt with it in the best way.
I have always struggled with comparing myself to other people and Facebook (and now Instagram too) provided a platform where I could succumb to this easily. Whether it’s one of my friends with a new haircut taking a flawless selfie, someone embarking on an adventure overseas, a writer who gets more likes and shares than I could ever hope for, the perfect family photograph… there is that part of my brain which could flip to jealous mode, sad mode, prideful mode, doubtful mode etc. depending on how I felt about the update. It isn’t healthy for me.
Caught in a (comparison) trap
Although I recognise the benefits of social media such as: having a voice on matters that are of importance to us, motivating people to take action and keeping in touch with people across the world, there are negative effects which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Social media presents a snapshot of someone’s life and it’s what they want us to see – it’s filtered. One of my favourite quotes is: ‘Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s highlight reel.’ My thoughts could easily result in a feeling of low self-esteem as I get caught up in the comparison trap. It could trigger envy. It could make me insecure about what I look like.
Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. Proverbs 4:23 (CSB)
I took action. I wanted to guard my heart and protect my mind from the constant stream of Facebook updates. By unfollowing people I do not have to constantly fight the feelings of low self-esteem and I feel much better in myself. Now, I check Facebook to see if anyone has been in touch so I can reply and occasionally I will type in a name and go to a profile to see how someone is doing. But I control that, rather than having a constant stream of everyone’s life.
Writing about this makes me vulnerable and I will indeed be posting this on Facebook. Then I will see if anyone has liked, commented or shared the blog post – which is always a difficult thing to do and I am not expecting much as I have basically told everyone that I am not following them on Facebook – yikes. I’m not immune from WordPress either as they give me stats on how well a particular post is doing! However, I love to write. It’s part of the job and I can manage that.
One final note: please do not read this and think that I do not care about my friends or all the genuinely great things that they are doing in their lives. I do care and that is why I want to protect my heart from the constant updates. However, there must be a better way of showing that I care besides ‘liking’ something on a social media platform. What were friendships really like before the internet? Comparison would probably still occur, but in much more manageable doses I am sure!
A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. Proverbs 14:30 (CSB)