What are the effects of social media on our society and interpersonal relationships?
Our world is inundated with a multitude of social media channels. All exist to keep us closer to one another, more engaged and connected to the world around us. But, are we actually more connected? Are our souls being nourished by these interactions? Are our relationships growing and improving? (and I’m not referring to the growing number of “FB friends” on your friend list either) Is your relationship with social media starving your soul?
Is Social Media a Blessing or a Curse?
Social Media is neither good nor bad. However, it’s the human behavior and motivations behind our relationship with social media that can make it a blessing or a curse.
It’s my feeling that the additional technologies and social channels are further fracturing our relationships with one another and distancing us further from one another and from our own realities. Most of our “social interactions” occur behind a keyboard and a screen. We are no longer taking time to be present with one another face to face. We are definitely interacting more intimately with our devices but what happens when we do this at the expense of interacting with the ones we love the most?
Our days have become all about tweets, “likes,” and follows; trying to capture our precious moments in 140 characters. We incessantly take 97 pictures in an attempt to capture the “perfect” selfie image. We are constantly comparing our lives to others while trying to virtually inject ourselves into the lives of others instead of being present in and fo our own life.
If we aren’t careful, these interactions on social media can become detrimental to our spirits. What began as innocent, mindless scrolling, can evolve into a slippery slope of jealousy, greed, feelings of inadequacy, discontentment and loneliness.
What is our Motivation for Engaging on Social Media?
Fear of Missing Out
FOMO…we have all heard this phrase. FEAR of MISSING OUT! Makes me a little jittery just hearing it! I first heard this term on a blogging podcast several months back and I wondered where this term has been all my life!
If I’m honest, I can say with absolute certainty that I have experienced FOMO on numerous occasions…just in the last few months even. This intense desire to be everywhere, with everyone, doing ALL the things, all the time!
When was the last time you experienced FOMO?
Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Facebook and you stumble on a post that shows a picture of a group of women from church getting mani/pedis and eating sushi together and you wonder, “Why didn’t they call me?”
Now that you saw that post, it confirmed to your heart that not only did you miss out but you were also left out! How do you feel now?
Are we looking to social media in a desperate attempt to fill our social calendars?
Truth telling time…how many of you have ever “FB stalked” a friend or another child’s parent, to see if you were going to be included in the upcoming girls’ night out or birthday celebration? Come on…BE HONEST!
This crap does NOT make us feel good! So why do we do it, day after day? It’s almost like we cannot help ourselves. We are feeding some kind of internal need and even when the outcome is negative, the need is responded to…so, we continue to engage.
But, is this good for us? What are the effects of social media on our lives?
Are we looking for acceptance or our self- worth in all the wrong places? Are we investing precious moments of our life (or even hours) keeping constant tabs on the number of new “likes,” comments, follows and shares on social media?
If yes…CUT IT OUT!
Ladies, if we are looking to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for our self- worth and validation, then we will be disappointed and broken Every. Single. Time. The only person who can complete us and give us our true sense of value and self- worth is Jesus Christ and the only place to find that truth is in Scripture…not on Facebook or Snapchat.
How many of you are scrolling through social media to escape your current reality? Are you scrolling through social media to avoid facing your current circumstances? Are you turning to Facebook to avoid a difficult conversation with your spouse? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram to avoid spending time with your children? Or, are you trying to numb an uncomfortable feeling in your spirit? Think about the reason that you’re engaging in social media and decide for yourself if you are using it to escape “real relationships” or avoid real responsibilities?
Death by Comparison
Comparison is not a game that you want to involve yourself in. We’ve all done it at some point in our lives. Comparison kills our spirit and crushes our joy. Have you ever found yourself saying, “I wish my family looked like that” or “look how pretty she is… I’ll never be that skinny.” “Her life looks so exciting; my life sucks!”
Comparison is a thief and it will rob you of your joy and your contentment when you begin to compare your lives to the highlight reel of other people.
The Facebook facade is real. Most of the time you are not staring into anybody’s true reality; they are only giving you a pigeon hole look into a small front of what they want you to see and to try to convince you along with convincing themselves that it’s real.
How Can We Develop a Healthier Relationship with Social Media
Make time for an HONEST Social Media Audit.
Take an inventory of your activity and your engagement on social media. Ask yourself these questions:
- How much time are you spending on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat?
- How do you feel when you’re engaging in those social channels?
- What are your motivations for continuing to engage?
Set Personal Social Media Boundaries
- What changes can you make to create healthier habits surrounding social media engagement?
- Consider implementing time limits and limit usage to certain times of the day
- Think about what social channels are the most beneficial and which ones are not serving you well. Could you simplify the list of channels you follow?
- Carefully consider who and what you let appear in your feeds? Is their presence nourishing your soul or depleting your spirit? Maybe its time to participate in a social media “friend/follow” audit, followed by a healthy “cleanse.”
Is Your Relationship with Social Media Starving Your Soul?
As I said earlier, social media is neutral just like the kind of TV that you watch or the car that you drive. The human behavior, the motivations, and the lasting effects that it has on us and our spirits; is what can make the effects of social media positive or negative.
Social media can help us do many things. It can help create awareness for important causes, it can help instigate change, create connections and it can help positively influence the lives of others.
But, on the flip side, social media effects can impact our lives negatively. Interactions can quickly become abusive and threatening. People abuse the privilege and use it to tear others down, ruin reputations and propagate lies.
If we are not cognizant and vigilant, we can find ourselves strangers in our own lives. Our social media interactions can become all consuming, just like an addiction to food or to drugs. Our relationship with social media can become so pervasive that it can take us away from our own lives. We become unengaged with the real world in exchange for constant engagement in the virtual world. Sadly, we find that our own lives are distracting us from our virtual lives. Before we know it, we begin to find more pleasure in our virtual hang outs than we do in our personal hang outs! Lives behind the screen become more convenient and pleasurable.
If we aren’t careful, our efforts to become more connected may just blow up into more disconnection, despair and disappointment.
Social media, used well, can have a healthy place in our lives. However, we must carefully choose the way we allow it into our lives and be mindful of the way that we allow it to affect our hearts and our minds. The effects of social media are real and pervasive in our world today. Be honest, intentional and vigilant about your relationship with social media for the health and wellbeing of your spirit and interpersonal relationships.