Time to disconnect: Social media is stressing me out!
After my last post on children on social media, it got me thinking about my entire experience using thee platforms. And I’ve come to a conclusion:
I’ve had it! I just saw an article pop up on my news feed about the dangers of having a baby in a car seat for more than 30 minutes. I’ve reached the end of my tether with the fear mongering on social media. It’s been bugging me for a while and it’s time we talked about it.
This article on an unnamed page for ‘healthy’ mothers discussed ‘recent research’ into car seats and travelling with infants and apparently if I travel for more than 30 minutes in the car with my newborn I will be putting my child’s safety at risk. Which means, I can’t visit my family, I can’t leave my suburb, I can’t drive to the airport to take my family away for a holiday. Looks like I’ll be stuck in this house for months/years in fear of being a bad mother…
This latest article is one in a series of articles I’ve ‘skimmed’ over which have done nothing to help me as a new mother but instead have put the fear of God in me and made me feel that it’s impossible to get it right. If I breastfeed for a minimum 12 months and my child sleeps 9 hours a night, I’ve made it. THEN I will be considered a good mother.
However, if I dare to give my baby a bottle of formula in that time, my baby will never breastfeed again. My milk supply will dry up. I’ll be compromising my child’s immune system, their future, their academic and sporting capabilities and their chance at marrying a rich and wealthy partner who can spoil them with cash and mansions. Okay, I’m clearly exaggerating, but I know you can all hear my point!
It’s had me thinking about the information and opinions we engage with online and how its impact is a silent, often subconscious but quite a damaging deterioration of self esteem and self efficacy. We’ve become trapped in a world of overload when it comes to information and it leads to damaging comparisons.
We are constantly being exposed to the successes of others around us and no matter how well things are going, many of us wonder why we don’t have lives as good as those who are filling our newsfeeds. Social media is filled with engagement announcements, new relationships, new homes, weddings, pregnancies, births, extravagant meals and luxurious holidays and the truth is, we just cannot keep up with one another! It’s created a more anxious, competitive and narcissistic society and there is plenty of research to support this.
There is an abundance of research out there which has shown that misuse of social media is increasing levels of anxiety in all age groups, particularly in youth and some research has shown a loss of empathy, resilience and tact amongst our social interactions.
We’ve become numb to a lot of the tragic news being shared online. There are viral memes and videos which are offensive to many groups of people and we mindlessly comment and like these without considering their impact. We saturate our minds with images and articles which often leave us feeling like we are not enough. But are we remaining conscious in our decisions to follow certain accounts?
I realised quite some time ago that I was following accounts on Instagram that were really frustrating me and having a negative impact my mental health. I followed fitness bloggers, healthy eating accounts, and some celebrities who post immaculate photos of themselves in expensive jewellery and full faces of make up. I would scroll through my feed during my lunch hour and would be left feeling flat, no even aware it was because of the rubbish I was looking at.
It would be the middle of the work day when some fitness model would post a photo of her abs and promote her fancy attire from a fancy active wear brand who were obviously paying her to sell their clothes and I would be throwing down a lasagna thinking ‘I’ll never look like that! Pass the cheese’. In that moment I ‘forgot’ that this particular woman had committed her whole life to health and fitness. Good for her! But it’s not realistic for me as my life is committed to other things which is equally okay.
And so I decided to disconnect. And I’ve never felt better.
I unfollowed all the pointless accounts and I started chatting to friends about how it was impacting on me. I realised that I had unintentionally fallen into a social media funnel and was overexposed to a fictional sense of reality and I needed to take my control back.
What is it about these accounts that gain so much traction online? Why do we seek them out? What are we gaining from keeping up to date with strangers who live in a totally different world to us? Are we feeding a much bigger problem by engaging in this online behaviour? It’s something we should all think about.
And so I’m asking you, are you in the same funnel? Is social media stressing you out? Are you filtering through comments and taking too much in? Are you stuck in the comparison trap? Is it time to disconnect and unfollow the negative influences which are making us anxious?
Instead, perhaps we should surround ourselves with ‘healthy’ influences- no, not healthy food accounts to roll our eyes at as we munch on chocolate and feel guilty. But instead, we could fill our news feeds with our true friends and their happy moments. This way we can relate and celebrate alongside them!
This is what I’ve come up with, but what else could we do? Join in the conversation!
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Kendall lives and works for health and fitness. She believes that eating right and moving your body equals a healthy mind. She also believes that cheese deserves its own food group.