Lifestyle

Slow Your Scroll

We live in a culture encapsulated by social media. It’s simply a fact and there seems to be no way around it, no light at the end of this tunnel. Daily lives have warped into TikTok videos, Instagram stories, and Snapchat filters. Gone are the days where anything stays private anymore, but instead exposed for the world to see on the internet. Also gone are the days where anyone seems to be able to think and act for themselves, and only themselves. We take to the internet, listening to friends and complete strangers, as a crutch to help form our opinions, influence our decisions, and shape our behavior.

Wow. I couldn’t even finish writing that sentence without feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness. Disappointment. Fear for our future, my kids’ future. Because that statement is not just my personal opinion, this is the reality we live in.

The hard truth is that social media is not going to disappear anytime soon. Ok, it never is. It’s control over how the entire world functions is growing every year (hell, every day, every minute) as new capabilities and trends within each online platform are released and become the next craze that users just can’t get enough of. 

These are the facts, whether we like it or not.

And I’ve drifted to the or not side faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

I think of how my own life has evolved with social media. I can still hear the dial up sound coming from our bulky desktop computer, as AOL Instant Messenger would boot up and tie up the household landline for hours. I innocently chatted away with my friends, laughing and giggling like any young teenage girl.

Then I moved to college, when Facebook became the hottest commodity on the internet. Giving us even more opportunity to share status updates, continue online chats, and post photos (whoa, our minds were blown!). Not to mention, the AIM game was still going strong, being able to check the idol timestamp of who made it back to their dorm or not after a night of partying. Perhaps an invasion of privacy, yet this somehow became an acceptable form of keeping tabs on each other, especially when you could put the puzzle pieces together of who hooked up with who. The internet sure was a fun “game” back then. 

Fast forward another decade (ooook, fiiiine closer to two since I graduated college- but we aren’t talking about my age here) ;)…

Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, the list goes on and on. And all these outlets are not just “extra” that some people partake in like it was back then, but instead now the absolute norm that everyone knows and follows. However, the premise of social media remains the same.

An opportunity to hide behind a screen, where it’s comfortable, maybe even easy. To type words that we’d might never say in person or converse with someone we’d not normally approach face-to-face. Not necessarily because it’s wrong but because we’d otherwise be scared, embarrassed, or just shy. Then there is the other half of this scenario, where it most definitely is wrong. The screen all the sudden gives us the right to be hurtful, rude, or even dangerous to others. Either way, this mask that social media allows people to wear, is not something that sits well with me. 

I am a strong advocate for speaking up, voicing my beliefs, sticking up for myself (and others), and always having those hard conversations. How else do we learn? How do we build up our own character? How do we trust ourselves to use our voice, loud and proud? 

Real life, real time. That’s how. Not through a keyboard, not behind a screen, not by an internet post.

Perhaps the even bigger apple to chew- addressing what social media does to our beliefs, our ability to forward think for ourselves, the importance of fueling our desires by what is inside us, as opposed to what we see and hear from someone else.

WOOF. 

I have a hard time digging deeper into this issue because my mind is running a hundred miles a minute over it. I am so passionately aware of how someone’s life can be turned upside down just by following someone else’s social media account. And I’m not talking in a good way. 

I completely respect those who have other’s best interest at heart. And yes, there are still many out there sharing the good, making a difference in a wonderful way. And I applaud each and every one of you. When the interactions and the posts are genuine, insightful, and educational.

Even the good, clean fun. I understand that social media is used by many solely as an entertainment outlet. We all need a solid laugh, a smile at other’s mishaps, the feeling of knowing we aren’t alone in our chaos. Even this category has a fine line, however. What is too much? When is it taken too far? At what point does it become an obsession or mindless matter, in which social media is now an interference to our daily living?

What about the flat out lies? Marketing that promises false hope? The influencers that prioritize income above anything (or anyone) else? The blatant waste of time content that quite honestly makes us stupider for watching or reading it? It’s all out there and readily available- sometimes easy to pinpoint and block, other times- hook, line, and sinker. 

The problem is not just in the poster, but the viewer. What happens in the mind can be conscious or subconscious, it doesn’t matter how we are exposed. What matters is that is does happen. You can have a stable, smart mind and strongest sense of who you are over anyone else out there, but I’m willing to bet social media can still kick your ass. It’s an endless path of thumb scrolls, a quick click of ‘like’ or ‘love’ that turns into an unhealthy addiction, a rabbit hole of comparison. Whether it happens to you infrequently, just more than you’d like to admit, or hours upon hours at a time- we all get sucked in at some point or another.

Until you just STOP. 

And that’s what I want to talk about next. Off my little soapbox of opinion (and fact), and into how I’ve changed my own ways when I allow- but mostly don’t allow- social media to creep into my life.

A few years ago, after we were done having kids and I ventured into a health journey that fired me up, and I all the sudden had a pull to share my story, a desire to do more. I wanted to help others find their passion, just as I had done.

So what did I do? I took to social media because that’s what the world told me I had to do in order to have a voice that would be heard. 

I had already sworn off Facebook due to the fact I didn’t like how it operated- how my posts were pulled to places I didn’t ask to be and how visible I was to people who weren’t “my friends,” all despite the tighter privacy settings I enabled. So Instagram, I thought, was my safest choice. Although my feelings over social media were not as strong as they are now, I still had my concerns then. So I stuck with it- inconsistently- but nonetheless still made an effortful presence. 

I loved the connections I was making. I still do. 

But it didn’t take long to realize that was about it. That’s really the only thing on the online platform that I was pulled to. Everything else needed to go. And that’s when it all started clicking… un-clicking, if you will… for me.

If I want to buy new clothes or home items, I want to buy them because they feel and look good to me- not because an influencer told me to buy it.**

I want my friends to reach out to me in the most authentic “hey friend, I miss you!” kind of way – not because they saw my IG story which reminded them they haven’t talked to me in a while. (Or me, to them.)

I want to focus on my own workouts, filming my technique for me, myself, and I (and my coach)- not to show mine to others or to watch theirs because frankly, it’s not my business right now. 

Above all, I want to tell my story the way I want to tell it, not how some algorithm tells me I should. Voila, the launch of my Blog last Fall.

Don’t get me wrong, some things on IG do fill my bucket. Friends’ photos can make me smile and I genuinely care what they are up to; wanting to share about my own family or wins (or failures) in life is a very normal human interaction that we cannot deny; learning more about nutrition, health, and fitness from others is important to me. The thing is, this corner I’m talking about? Is just a very small one in the scheme of IG.

So, the first thing I did: I went to town on the “unfollow” button and also became best friends with the “mute” function. It is not something that is personal to anyone else, but instead what I believe to be essential to any healthy relationship with social media. We need to understand what serves us, lending a hand to the best version of yourself, and simply what (and who) does not. 

Most easily said: get rid of the pointless shit. And it goes without saying, any negativity and toxicity gets an immediate permanent block. 

Doing this felt good. It felt right. But it still wasn’t enough. That worthwhile little corner got even smaller for me, so much so that it wasn’t enough for me to stay.

I needed to go dark.

I’m 3 months in and counting. 

And it has been much easier than I thought. So easy that, I recently spent 24 hours at Sundara Spa where all electronics are prohibited in the common areas, and I still didn’t reach for my phone when I was in the privacy of my room. I read a book instead, who’s main character was not Fancy Nancy or Captain America. It felt like pure Heaven to have a book in my hands, not my phone. 

You see, I haven’t missed the scrolling one bit. Not one bit. It’s been a breath of fresh air to not fog my mind with information (if that’s what you can even call it?) that I obviously can function without. To focus on what is right in front of me, without a screen in the way. 

…Which can I also add? In this time that I have largely been off social media, nothing irks me more than people smack in the middle of a special moment, viewing it through the video of the phone screen. Come on! Are you really going to re-watch that video of fireworks over and over again, or how about you try actually LIVING IN THE MOMENT? Enjoy what is right in front of YOUR OWN EYES. The inability for people to put their phone down, in the most general sense beyond just social media, is a serious epidemic in our society…

Which brings me to reason #827 why docking the phone (in ALL it’s functions) is my #1. 

I mentioned how much these social platforms have changed throughout my life and am clearly very aware of my exposure to them as an adult. I can’t help but think what is in store for my kids. How things will change even more- fearfully for the worst- and what an astronomical effect the social media world will have on this generation. Although I understand I can’t raise my kids under a rock, I can 1,000 percent teach them the good, bad and ugly of social media.

And yes, I’m certain my ears will be full of hearing, “You are so UN-cool, Mom” (to put it nicely). But I’d rather hear the slew of upset words from my kids, rather than for theirs to be flooded with inappropriate TikTok videos and questionable Snapchat messages. I am still a handful (God willing) of years away from having to parent through their first cell phones, complete with setting limits and restrictions in literal concrete for them, but there is plenty I can do in the meantime.

We all know our kids are sponges, they watch and hear everything we do.

So let them. Let them soak us in- every word we speak out loud instead of through our keyboards; every thought we share without our face in the screen; every action we do of not just putting our phone down, but keeping it down. 

I have been paging through stories on IG when one of my kids will catch me and say, “Wait! Who was that?” It has caught me dead in my scroll because my sheepish answer is, “I don’t know.” Because if I told the complete truth, my response would actually be, “I’m just looking at these pretty pictures of complete strangers on IG instead of paying attention to you.”

Now turn the table- imagine if one of my kids said that to me. There would be steam coming out of my ears followed by an immediate lecture on how rude and inconsiderate that is.

Teaching our kids how we would like them to use social media is not just about setting an example. We need to be the living proof. 

I think I’ve made my feelings pretty clear here and sharing my own experience of navigating- or I suppose not navigating- social media. I am better for it and I stand by everything I have said. My point being that I’m not bashing social media completely into the ground (yea ok, maybe some of it…) but instead emphasizing the social responsibility we must take in a very broken world. It takes a definitive effort to find the good and maintain the good of social media.

Allow yourself a high standard of viewing, so that the meaningless content doesn’t take over. Don’t even tempt yourself- if it’s not welcome in your day don’t download the app, don’t have an active account, don’t lay your eyes on it. Period.

Align your own sharing with your own goals. If you’ve read anything of mine (READ HERE), you know I think “finding balance” is a bunch of bull shit. Instead, recognize what you believe is over-sharing; don’t ever feel bad about under-sharing; and share exactly what you want in terms of your life.

Set non-negotiable boundaries. Go ahead, check your screen time on the social media apps. You may find it to be a slap in the face of reality, or perhaps be content with the number of minutes/hours. That’s for you to determine, and on you to either accept or change it. 

Re-evaluate what is most important to you. I love the connections I do make on IG. I cherish many conversations and appreciate each one of these individuals, never taking them for granted. But I choose to put most of energy into the relationships I’m living right in front of me. 

Rate the enjoyment. If your social media interactions ever become anything less than fun (read: stressful, hurtful, depressing, anger, sadness), please, just peace out of it right now.

Be intentional. With your time and space. Through your eyes and perception. In your shared words and thoughts. Your everything. 

Take ownership of your presence. Social media can have a different definition for everyone- you don’t need to agree with it, but do respect it. And to those that use socials as part of their job, I get it. I also get that you need to work twenty times harder and beyond to satisfy all of the above. (Which also terrifies me that I’m working on a project myself that will throw me to these exact wolves.) God speed to us all. 

Remember, no one is here is judge- not me, not you. I’m just here to encourage that however, whenever, and whatever you do choose to use these platforms for: stand tall and own it. Be honest about what you what you decide to view and to share.

For me, it all comes down to a very simple thought:

I’ll catch ya on an IG story every once in a while, but my face, wrinkles and all, is much happier in real life. 

Until next time❤️

**Disclaimer: I have a hefty shopping “hobby” and have no problem admitting to following an (as in singular) Influencer. I feed my habit through following ONE favorite account and the rest have been deleted. A sustainable way to protect your joy… AND your credit card bill! 

Shameless plug-in: I continue to post my Blog on IG, but that has never been my priority. I’m also not oblivious to the fact that things like this thrive on social media- but I still refuse to rely on it. (Following the crowd has never been my thing.)

My goal is to organically grow this Blog, and that is through you. If you enjoy my writing and can relate as you continue to read, please share with your friends. Subscribe to my email list (bottom of the Home page HERE) and never miss a post. 

My hope is to continue meaningful connections here, in this truly safe space, together.

Thank you