I'm thankful that I was born in the 80's. 1984 to be exact. I thumb through my mother's old photo albums, laughing hysterically at most of my baby pictures. One in particular, where I'm wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers hat and rolling around in our muddy backyard, make me realize how embarrassed I would be if social media had been around and she had posted those for everyone to see. Or of course, the infamous naked baby in the bathtub photo that I think every mother takes of their child.
I'm not yet a parent so please don't take what I'm about to write the wrong way, but I personally do not plan on posting intimate pictures of my child on the internet. A couple here and there, sure. But nothing I wouldn't want a perfect stranger to see. I have a firm stance on this, and I think most people will completely disagree with me. Even my friends and I hold different views so I can only imagine what others will say. That's okay! Most of my friends and family DO post pictures online of their children, and I don't judge them for it because ultimately it's their personal decision. I may be hyper-sensitive, but it's this scenario of my own mother posting pictures of me on social media before I could even speak a word that has led me to my position.
I was an awkward teenager. Thank God Facebook wasn't around in 1999. It wasn't, was it?
This whole thing has gotten me thinking about the value of human connection, the intrinsic need we all have to be seen, heard, wanted, needed, and loved. It really is the most basic of all needs, aside from food and shelter.
When I was growing up, I loved being alone. I would sit in my bedroom after school for hours, doing homework, reading, writing in my journal, and talking to friends on the phone. Not a cell phone, but an actual landline. I didn't feel alone though; I had so many ways of being creative, and I was able to formulate my own ideas without the constant input from others (or what others might think).
Now as an adult, I am never "alone" because social media and my smart phone are just an arm's length away. Instead of being alone with my thoughts, I reach for my phone and scroll through social media like a robot at times. So am I ever really alone? Yes. In fact, I feel more alone than ever. How can this be when we are all so connected? I know bloggers that live clear across the nation! There are people whom I've never laid eyes on in person but I "like" their social media from halfway around the world.
I talked to one of my closest friends about this. Both she and her husband don't have any social media accounts, something I find both shocking and refreshing all at once. She is always in the moment. They don't pull out their phones when we get together as a group just to nail that perfect shot of us having a great time. We just are having a great time. What's the need to announce it to people? When I'm not with her, I don't know what she's doing because I can't see her on Instagram or Snap. She values her privacy, and she says she knows herself well enough to understand that if she did have social media, she would constantly compare herself to other people and it would drive her crazy. It would drive her husband crazy too.
Where am I going with this? Using social media is a great tool for networking, but it doesn't take the place of real face-to-face interaction. I think it's really important to find a balance, use other ways to spend your time, and to remember that what you see on someone's Instagram isn't necessarily a reflection of what is going on in that person's life. I worry that too much of it is affecting the way young people view others and themselves. Some studies have shown that people who already have underlying mental health problems are more likely to become depressed because they are constantly comparing themselves to others they follow on the internet. There's no getting away from it, but I think being honest about it is a start. My therapist told me she's seen an increase in depression over the last couple years, and she attributes much of it to social media. She advised me to put down the phone, and go out in public where I can actually converse with a real human being instead. What a novel concept. 😉
What are your thoughts on the subject? Does social media affect your mood at all?