A month ago, I realized Facebook was eating my brain alive. It’s not the first time I’ve realized this. But it may be the first time I figured out how to handle it well.
During previous moments of Facebook-overload I’d always think I needed to delete it from my life. This time I realized I could just check it’s screen once a week. A wise move, since I’d like to be able to keep in contact with lots of people I’d otherwise lose track of.
Since having a month off (for the majority of the time) I feel like me. I don’t have all these other thoughts from everyone I ever knew (and all the people they feel they need to link to, or quote from) chanting through my mind.
And I’ve started to see how Facebook (or insert social media here -- Facebook is basically the only one I’ve used) has made my parenting experience entirely harder and more dramatic than it as ever needed to be.
Last night I realized it was my Facebook day and I hadn’t been on Facebook at all. So before bed I thought, "I’d better check in with 'the world’.” So I asked for some input on where to buy mattresses (since we need to upgrade from our toddler disarray we’ve been in) and I checked on what was happening.
It was a lot of stressful stuff! A lot of stressful stuff I’ve been living my life in fullness without (read: it’s all stuff that doesn’t effect my life really at all. Well in some ways it might, sort of, but at the same time I’m living just fine not knowing it, so it doesn’t really).
And one stressful thing I saw was a link to a lists of fights you “will” have with other moms. I read it (mindless Facebook action) and thought to myself, “I’ve actually never had one of these fights.” (I was expecting to see other ones that the link listed.)
Now I need to make a disclaimer: I’m a happy introvert. (As in I’m happy to be one.) I don’t venture forth into society a ton since having kids. And when I do I don’t try very hard to strike up conversations with moms I encounter there (like the library or the park) because I don’t personally like conversations that don’t lead to deep friendship -- and I don’t expect to life connect in that way there. So because of my personality I might just be avoiding all sorts of mom fights -- I don’t know. But that said, I’ve never had a mom fight with a mom I am sitting with in person. Maybe I’ve totally lucked out in this regard, I don’t know. I mean I haven’t had a blast with every mom I’ve ever met -- but I’ve never fought. Perhaps sensed judgement from them -- but even that has been pretty minimal (and kind of repetitive moments from some people I grew to expect it from and just ride off).
So last night before I went to bed I started to think about this article and why I didn’t really relate to it exactly. And it dawned on me that any and all mom fights I’ve experienced have been online. Either watching it unfold on Facebook. Or reading articles or blog posts or comments.
And I realized that had I not been on Facebook before and during motherhood I would have had so MANY (many, many) less parental doubts in my head. Facebook was the place I learned about every single mom hard-stance there is. Had I not had Facebook I seriously doubt I would have ever learned anything about anything that plagues me when I think I’m not mom-ing right.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I wouldn’t have had doubts. I don’t think it would have been a walk in the park. And I DON’T think being a mom would have been easy (it's SO not.)
But I wouldn’t have had all these opinions in my head that fight.
I read so many mom-stance articles before I had kids (thinking this would help me transition into motherhood when the time came) that I literally thought insane thoughts when I came home from the hospital with Jasmine. (Let’s not forget the power of baby blues and hormone brain.) But I actually thought people might be trying to listen in on my baby monitor and call the police to take my child away if they could hear her crying because that would make me an unfit mother. (You may have guessed that most the articles I saw posted were attachment parenting based.)
I wouldn’t have had to see who’s baby beat mine or didn’t beat mine at milestones. I wouldn’t have bellies to look at next to my belly and see who’s looks the best.
Or who has on pants that zipper already post baby (or lost all the weight or fit in old jeans.)
I wouldn’t have links screaming “I’M DOING THIS MOM THING RIGHT! THE OTHER WAYS ARE WRONG!!”
I wouldn’t even know there was labeled ways to do this mom job.
And I would rarely hear that now dreaded, by me, sentence “It goes so fast.”(Always said with regret…which is why it’s not helpful.) Because I really only hear that online. I’m not sure I’ve actually heard it since becoming a mom in face to face interaction.
So I came to the conclusion that without social media inside my mothering world, I’d just get up every morning (whether I slept that night or not, not knowing who did and didn’t get a full night sleep the night before) and do what made sense. No professionals writing articles to me on why this or why that. No links to another article debunking the one I just read. I’d just look at my children and use my gut, and I wouldn’t have other voices telling me a thousand other things. And I could also just put on whatever clothes fit, and not worry if my hair and makeup are mommy-and-baby-selfie ready.
I could just live. Live without thinking so much.
Or at least thinking about other people’s opinions so much.
Social media is not a evil thing. It has brought me lots of good that I haven’t addressed in this post. Without it I know I would have had a harder time with being alone with an infant, I would have felt more vulnerable initially. But I would have turned to the phone more which I think would have been healthier.
I’m not gonna regret my first four years of motherhood and the time spend on social media during them. But last night, taking a very honest look at them, and then spending just a small amount of time imagining them with out social media was extremely eye opening. I just found it jarring to realize these thoughts in full last night.
We aren’t all made the same. And others may find social media a extremely supportive experience as a parent.
But I haven’t.
And so I look forward to moving forward, sticking to my guns on much, much, much less of it in my life. (But I do plan to keep it in my life. Like I said, I do see some benefits.)
I am feeling so much more at ease with myself, my mothering style. My kids even.
I feel more like the me I was in high school or early college (which -- well, was before I was on any form of social media -- either because it wasn’t invented or I didn’t have it) but the me I was back then was very confident in myself. And the me I have been since becoming a mom has been full of doubt, fear and anxiety. I thought it was due to mom stuff. But I think in a large part it was due to so much “sound” and so many opinions I’ve taken in via a screen.
I love the internet. And I get to learn more than I’ve ever been able to learn, quicker than ever before because of it.
But I’m working on the balance of it.
And what things I want to let it teach me.
And, I think this is for more than just me.
I’ll be modeling this aspect of my life very clearly for my kids no matter which way I end up using it.
Finding a way to use social media in a way which allows peace in my heart, is going to be key for them learning how to do the same.