The open discussion on technology and bullying has been quite prevalent in the past few years with regards to how our kiddos are using and being affected by social media. While I find research and continued conversation about this to be extremely useful and helpful, I would like to have an open discussion on how social media affects adults.
It turns out social media doesn’t discriminate against age, and I find most adults struggling with feelings prompted by pictures, words and chats that take place via social media. Social media has brought on a whole new sense of “keeping up with the Jones’”. We are inundated with what we should look like, what our families should look like, how our marriages should be Instagram worthy, and heck; even our pets have a place in the mix.
How we present ourselves as adults within the world of social media is not a whole lot different then what we are telling our kiddos not to do; and ending with similar results. Hurt feelings, anxiety, low self-esteem, no self-esteem, and fear of not being “enough” are constant themes discussed in therapy. Wrapping words around your finger as if it were a piece of chewing gum to make yourself look good or someone else bad is easy to do when removed from the person. Posting the best family photos for everyone to gawk at, but leaving the one out where you toddler is screaming, is easy to do when removed from people.
Presenting an unauthentic life is easy to do when removed from people and we often time mistake technology for connection. Social media is an impostor, having us think we are connecting when we are not. Turns out we are just communicating not connecting. Are we really feeling seen or heard on social media or is it just robbing us of a real chance to be seen and heard by the person sitting next to us?
It’s hard to know how to engage with technology to be “part of” 2018 while mindful of its effects on mood, identity and family dynamics. I usually encourage adults to have similar rules as they would set for any kiddo or young adult. Limit your time on social media. Don’t use it before bed or first thing in the morning. Use it has an avenue to share inspirations, kind words, or to stay in touch with a friend that lives away from you. Be thoughtful of the pictures you post and ask yourself “Am I showboating or truly wanting to share this experience with others? How could this make someone else feel?” At the end of the day we need to encourage situations where connection is created through sharing a hug or a handshake. Human to Human-not device to device.
Lean in. Be human. Connect authentically.