Vent Sesh: Impact of Social Media

I met someone this weekend who told me she gave up social media for Lent. So freeing (ok, and truth, a little scary!). One fast downfall she faced? She got a call from a friend who asked where she was. What do you mean, she inquired. Apparently it was a friend’s birthday and the only note was via a Facebook message. Definitely no call, and not even a text or email when she never replied (despite her telling them she was taking the break).

While social media sites promise to deliver increased connectivity, I totally believe they break down communication with ones you should be investing time in. Should I care who’s wearing what, who purchased a new piece or jewelry or is eating a great meal as I’m perusing Instagram pics instead of spending time with my family? Why am I checking Facebook or Twitter — to see what others are doing — during a highway drive with my family when we actually have a few minutes to ourselves? And, most importantly…

How often does checking any social media site make you feel better about YOU? 

Rarely, if you ask me. Look at that amazing DIY or dessert on Pinterest I’ll never have time to make (mostly because I’m so busy pinning instead of doing!); check out that girl wearing an entirely designer outfit I can’t/won’t buy; and see how friends (and I use that term loosely here) are enjoying a night out while I’m in my pajamas, or posting cute pics of their kiddie while mine is screaming like crazy.

I recently removed about 20 friends from Facebook and it was so. so. liberating. I could really eliminate another 150 if we’re being honest. My birthday is coming around next month so I’m confident my wall will be filled with random ‘happy birthday’ {yes, all lowercase and correct, no punctuation} by people who know me so little there’s a chance we could pass each other in the mall and not even realize it. So, should I really invest my time in them, or share with them details about my life?

I say this in the nicest way possible: I need to stop living your life and must start better living mine. I must become more present with the people in my life that really matter. 

Sadly, I’ve created an addiction, partially thanks to my job. Our firm manages social media for at least a handful of clients so I sadly don’t even have the option to give it up for a month. Though, why can’t I give it up for an hour? The world won’t end if I see one less photo of a baby, read one less recommended article or see which brand is having a flash sale from 8 pm to midnight.

Have you recognized how social media has become problematic in your life?  Does an event happen if it’s not recorded on your Facebook timeline? That’s the dismal/truthful reality we live in, where the minute a moment happens or the reason a photo is taken, is not to save it to look back and smile but rather to share the highs of our lives with others not with us. Why? What does this prove with each “like” we receive?

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As a blogger I’ve created a real need for “likes” and oddly enough, worked to create a brand where people want to see what’s happening here. Being honest: I’m constantly checking for new social media followers, how many people gave my little #ootd (outfit of the day) a heart on Instagram and who commented on a tweet. And, I read articles about how to grow more followers, curate Instagram photos to get more likes and write tweets that generate retweets. Yes, it’s been hugely helpful for my job and valuable for growing the blog, but I don’t want to live in a place — or only feel validated — if people I hardly know compliment my outfit, my post or my idea. It’s fun, of course!, but it shouldn’t keep me and others going.

I’ve spoken to countless people about the topic so I know I’m not alone (and I do have a few friends who have held out on Facebook!), but am I the only one who feels she needs to take a step back a bit?

My spring resolution is to do a better job of remaining focused on the people in my physical space instead of in the virtual one (sorry!! I still love you guys so much and will be here plenty!). I know this is a legit issue because we literally had to instill a “no phones at the dinner table” rule, and my daughter is adoring the iPad a little too much. My husband just shared an article where at dinner parties or nights out, groups of people put all their phones in the center of the table… the first one to grab theirs pays!

Woah, sorry to drone on here but I think this seemingly innocent topic has massively large implications if we let it rule our day, our lives. There’s always going to be one more app and one more way to connect virtually with someone else, be it a friend or someone who have not yet met. And, I should say I think social media is valuable in a million ways: for close family and friends who live far away, amazing! For staying up on news and learning about trends, I love it. And, it’s so great to learn more about a person, a brand, a blogger. But maybe I can be Ok with learning a little bit less. :)

I’m focusing on creating real memories, and hoping those near me will call me out if I instinctively grab the phone too much. I’m trying to make more plans with friends, see family more, call friends who don’t live nearby (still working on this; where’s the hours?!), or just somehow reaching out in a way where it’s OK if the whole world doesn’t see the communication; it still means it happened.

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