It is, praise Jesus, the end of a long hard week, and I find myself at the beginning of a new one.
One where my husband is in town and not gone for 7 days and 6 nights. One where my hormones are hopefully a little more balanced. One where I will have interaction with other adults.
Last week was rough. Not only was I flying solo (like really solo, since I live away from family and my kids were sick so I couldn’t phone in a babysitter), I just felt attacked. You know those weeks where it seems like your back is up against the wall and you’re fighting against something you can’t even see? Yeah…all week. Because when God calls you to big scary things, the enemy wants to make you feel like you can’t do them (another post, for another day).
While texting a friend of my imminent emotional breakdown, she gave me sound wisdom. Go to Jesus, and stay off social media. Smart girl, that one.
Because, obviously: Jesus…always.
But that social media tidbit…most of us tend to do the exact opposite. When we are bored, or by ourselves, or want to escape from our reality…we tend to run to social media. Which if you happen to be of a sound frame of mind, may not be too big an issue. I’m not sure about you, but the percentage of when I find myself in a sound frame of mind these days is shockingly low. I have to be cautious about when and how I turn to social media.
Last week I was pretty lonely, so imagine the types of feelings I would have when I opened up and passed a picture of friends together, or a date night.
I wore makeup and put a real outfit on 1 out the past 7 days. I’m ok with the no makeup thing, but I usually throw on a cuter outfit to round it out (you know, to look like I might actually care). That didn’t happen, so I wasn’t exactly feeling on my cute game. Turns out I follow a lot of pretty people. And my reaction when I saw them in all their prettiness wasn’t “I’m so happy for her and her cuteness!”
Maybe you’re nodding in agreement right now, or maybe you’re thinking I’m a big fat sinner and you don’t struggle like that (LIES).
I’ve been having conversations with women (sorry men, don’t talk to as many of you, but I’m sure you struggle in your own manly way) for years who have shared their struggle with social media. How they don’t feel like they’re doing enough, put together enough, pretty enough, in love enough, spiritual enough, crafty enough, talented enough, have enough, liked enough, or just ENOUGH. I think if we are honest we all struggle a bit with social media. It’s hard to filter everyones joys, accomplishments, and successes without comparing that to our own current circumstances.
What has concerned me of late is the type of co-dependency that I see with social media.
Wikipedia describes co- dependency: Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. People with a predisposition to be a codependent enabler often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person’s poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs. Codependency often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns. (emphasis mine)
Mental Health America states this about co-dependency: Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. (emphasis mine)
I think that we as a society are co-dependent with social media.
I think we can all own we struggle with social media. Maybe sometimes worse than others, but as a whole in any given week, it’s impossible for us to scroll through our feeds and not feel the least little bit of insecurity, jealousy, anger, bitterness, worthlessness or other negative emotions.
The part that I think really clenches our co-dependency, is that we can’t quit it.
We know we struggle, we know we’re addicted, and yet we can’t walk away. We “support or enable another person’s…poor mental health, immaturity, …or under achievement.” We “form…relationships that are one-sided”.
I did a social media fast for a week for lent this year, and it was HARD. I realized that I really was an addicted. That I had programmed myself to reach for my phone every time I had a an “empty” moment. Or maybe my kids were trying to ask me 367 questions all at once, and I just needed to escape a bit…social media.
The irony is, in the midst of our struggle, the exact thing that makes us struggle with someone else, are the things we post ourselves. When we are looking our best, our super cute outfit, that really big deal we made, that nice golf course we got to play, the band we got to see, the restaurant we got to go to, the thing our kid did better than anyone else’s, that our kid looked cuter than anyone else’s, the great party we threw, the fun outing with friends we had, the thing we made, the thing we accomplished…isn’t this all of our posts (self included)?!
I’ve been trying to catch myself recently. Pinpointing the times I struggle with social media and what invokes it. And I’m trying to be more conscious of what I share. For instance, last week when I was feeling really lonely and saw lots of pictures with friends together…it just fed my loneliness and sadness. I want to be aware of how pictures or statuses I post may make others feel. Not let others emotional reactions control what I post, but be sensitive to hurts and struggles in others lives and not become a stumbling block for them. (1 Cor. 6:12, 8:9)
I don’t want to enable someones immaturity, addiction, poor mental health, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.
I want to encourage others to be emotionally healthy, to deal with their junk and to help others. And I’ve been trying to make sure my social media feed reflects that. Sports affiliations aside 🙂
I think we all need to take a look at how we relate to social media emotionally. We need to ask ourselves if it’s healthy or unhealthy. If it produces positive emotions, or negative ones. If it’s a help, or a hurt.
I avoided social media this weekend because I couldn’t emotionally handle it.
I think we all need to Do the Hard Thing and DTR (define the relationship) with Social Media. Often. I try to ask myself the above questions regularly and often find myself needing to step back or adjust what I’ve been sharing.
Just like in most situations, it’s not always very fun to see where you stand and what your struggles are, but it’s a heck of a lot better for us than burying our head in the sand along with our co-dependency. Do the Hard Thing and take some time to analyze your social media presence and it’s healthiness, then DTR, for your well being and others.
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This post is part of the #write31days challenge hosted by The Nester.
Click here to read all the posts in the 31 days of Doing the Hard Thing series.