7 problems with social media

I know there are many problems with social media. My title is simply MY problems with it.
And I know several people who agree with me because I'm starting to see a thread of conversations on this topic popping up everywhere; online and in person.

This is not a list of ways people annoy me on Facebook. I've seen those lists before and always laugh because the people who post that stuff do it all themselves.

Also, I'm not pointing fingers here and forgetting I've fallen under each category I'll list.
So before you decide to judge, stop it :)

1.) Social media is everywhere. Quite literally at your fingertips. 
Because of that there's a real need to feel like we need it. If a day goes by and I've not visited the online world, something is missing.
I'm slowly remedying that problem, but doing so actually felt a bit like detoxing from a major addiction, which I believe most social media becomes.

2.)  its a place where you can be the very opposite of who you really are. 
This might shock some of you, but I do not mean pictures. I think pictures are a moment frozen in time and the fact that you can't always catch a fight between your kids {or want to post that for anyone to see} is totally normal. I lol when I hear people say things like, "they seem so fake because their pictures always look happy."
I don't know about you, but I'd rather not see a pic of you and your spouse arguing, or your kids talking disrespectfully to you, or your totally private moments that should be kept private.
I always appreciate the pic that makes me laugh because someone has caught a totally REAL moment on their camera and people everywhere can relate. But at least for me, those are hard to catch because they happen and pass so quickly.

I'm talking more about personality. If you're an introverted person, you can actually be quite the outspoken extravert online, because you can do it from the comfort of your own private little corner.
I've actually met people after knowing them on online {or at least I thought I knew them} and came to find out they're nothing like their online personality.

In some cases we are way more deep and personable in real life, because we feel safer in that setting.
I might "get to know" someone in a place like Facebook and decide I know their depth or their actual personality and then spend time with them in person and come away feeling like a jerk for making those previous assumptions.

3.) The tongue {fingers} can do more damage online than it has time to do in person.  
Because we're just typing away, not seeing reactions on people's faces or hearing the tones in voices, we can say the stupidest and often times most insensitive, hurtful things, over and over and over in on day's time.
In person, we can have this effect maybe on a few people. Online, it can be a few hundred or even thousands.
-This goes with our views on religion, politics, and the ways we've chosen to live.
There's nothing wrong with posting something about these things, but I'm noticing more and more posts that are crude, rude, and way too "in yo face" than that person would ever be if they were face-to-face with you. I'm noticing so much more 'negativity' and gossipy behavior than I ever have before.
I guess on the bright side, because of that I tend to spend way less time on social media and I'm learning to hide or delete the people doing that.
And its a constant reminder for me to edit what I write before I post it, remembering the people who will read/see it.

4.) Handling offenses Biblically goes out the window.  
Places like Facebook and Instagram are quickly morphing into battlegrounds where you go to have passive-agressive fights with totally anonymous people.
Anonymous, because you're going about it in such a vague way, no one knows who its actually aimed at. If your rant, or nasty quote is meant for someone inparticular, your end goal has failed because that person isn't inside your head, understanding how they're having an impact on you, since you've obviously not gone to them directly.

In the end, dear online friend, you come across as a very self focused, mean, bitter & hateful person. That's all.

Matthew 18 talks about going to a brother {or sister} with an offense or concern about sin in their life and dealing with it in a personal, private matter before involving others.
The online world seems to only encourage the very opposite.

5.) People overuse the Internet and then pretend they're actually social. 
Just because you're on social media possibly off and on all day long, doesn't mean you're actually close to any of those people.
I have this blog. I've had it for 9 years now. I post lots of pictures and sometimes write things that are very near and dear to me. Things on my heart. But then we'll have friends come visit, or I'll have a play-date with a fellow reader and I always hear them say things like, "I totally thought I knew everything about your family and yet its so different when I spend time with you in person!" 
That's because in person you can see my face, hear my voice and converse with me in a real-time way. You see my kids in action. You don't hear just the funny/cute things they say, or see the sweet moments I capture on camera.
You see my husband and me work through an issue, or you get to hear that more in depth story of what God is teaching me because we've each taken that time to be together in person.
To truly invest in one another's lives is very different than reading a blog, sifting through your FB feed, or double-clicking pictures on Instagram.

6.) For some reason the Internet turns us into people who have to be agreed with. 
I'm still trying to figure out what causes this. I love to be agreed with, but I handle disagreements in person way better than I do online. If I say something to a room full of people and half of them disagree, it never bothers me half as much as it does online. Maybe because everyone is more gracious, willing to listen and really focus on that conversation? I don't know.
I just know that I see so much of this, "I'm going to post something and then act annoyed if anyone disagrees or dares to post their opinion afterward."
In that case, go talk to a brick wall. Because that's what we're expecting others to act like, right?
I have to say that to myself sometimes when I get all annoyed that someone differed in opinions with me.
And some of us are totally this way in person too, so to be fair, maybe you're just being yourself ;-)

7.) It can add unnecessary burdens to your life. 
This one would definitely apply more to Facebook than anything else. 

I have 353 'friends' on Facebook. That's a lot. I know people who have many more and probably think 353 is nothing, but for me, its a lot.
My personality is one that is very personable. I like people. I love meeting people, getting to know people, I enjoy praying for people and investing my time in people. Not just family, people everywhere.
So I'm guessing this 7th issue is going to vary, personality to personality.
I have to make adjustments as my life changes and it can be hard for me - not being able to call a friend and catch up like I used to can be really tough. I start feeling like 'worst friend of the year' when I have to send a text message or email instead of something more personable.
Being too busy in my life to make meals for sick people,  or not being able to help when there's a need. I love doing those things and it can feel overwhelming to me and difficult when I'm unable to.
So for me personally, being on a social platform where I am in the lives {using the term loosely} with three-hundred-and-fifty-three people {spelling out the number makes it sound larger, right?} can feel extremely overwhelming.
Going through my newsfeed several times a day can often times bring on what feels like a mini panic attack.
One person had a parent die.
Another has a baby in the NICU
This blog story is about a family struggling with infertility.
That person is getting a divorce.
This couple broke up.
And got back together again.
And broke up again.
That person loves their church.
That one hates theirs.
The person over there hates God and is making it their life goal to prove that He's a hoax.
The person next to them is overly political and has decided personal blogs are dumb and FB is their soap box.
That person is sending subliminal messages to someone they're mad at.
This person over here is obviously angry with the world and keeps posting nasty quotes all over the place.
places where people argue about food, medicine, vaccinations, religion, politics, family size,
To some people, this might all seem like drama that's easy to just see and think nothing of.
For me {and I'm assuming some others} its a lot to handle. I have days where I will feel totally stressed out and want to go hide in my closet and pray. At the end of the day when I'm talking about it all with Jason, I will often realize if so much of the Internet wasn't in my life, it would be a lot less stressful.

So I decided to start cutting it out. First I cut FB cold turkey... and was shocked at how pleasant it was.
I didn't miss it at all.
My days ran way smoother.
I enjoyed my kids more and got about 30% more done in my day than before.
The need to update the world on everything I was doing and thinking went away.
I remembered the beauty of investing myself in a few very close relationships.
Of praying to God my Father, before running for sympathy or direction online.
Realizing that 353 people's lives {and sometimes drama} did not need to be in my every day life.
Not feeling the need to go see how 'liked' my stuff was. Or how many people commented. Again, not a huge issue for me, but its still there, obviously. We all care a little, right? :)
And this isn't about jealousy. I'm not a person who struggles with jealousy or making comparisons. This was simply a lot of time, thought and energy going into way too many different places and not enough in the places God has given me. 

I didn't delete my FB account. I have a couple groups I belong to with church that are helpful to me and I appreciate having them. But I rarely ever read my news feed. I no longer feel rude or guilty about that.
If I wonder how a friend is doing, I text, call or email.
I use Instagram for pictures and can easily send a pic to FB without ever logging in.

I'm not implying everyone needs to do this or they're sinning. It just what's worked amazing for me. I think you can be very active online and still be an amazing wife/mother. That's not my point. Checking ourselves and our motives and the way we live life is healthy, I think.
We're all different and in different places. This may help or encourage some and for some, it might just explain where I'm at.

 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

These are questions I asked myself a couple months ago and was really surprised when I had to answer yes to more of them than I wanted to.

Do you find yourself having a hard time reading something that's longer than a few sentences or phrase? You look and see it will take longer than 10 seconds to read and save it for later, when you're bored? 

Does listening to a 45 minute sermon or watching a 5+ minute Youtube video seem daunting? 

Do you feel like your mind wanders in real life conversations and you have a hard time really investing in the person you're talking with? 

Does calling someone on the phone, writing a letter, back and forth emails, or getting together in person actually seem like an unnecessary burden? 

Is it easy for you to be encouraging and sweet online, but then actually following through and serving others is something you rarely do in real life? 

Do you hesitate to get up and go out in the world because you can just stay home and 'interact' online? 

I'm not a person who hates the Internet. Don't misunderstand me.
I'm not implying we all get off and go back to the dark ages. Mostly because I don't think we can. There's too much of our world that's online. You're either a friendly Internet person or a lurker, but you're still online ;-)
I just think here in the year 2013, we're over using it and then pretending its real life.

As a busy stay-at-home mom to 4 kids, I am really thankful for my smart phone and for places like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I'm just reminded that even a good thing can turn into a bad thing.
Something useful/helpful can quickly become an addiction.

Do you have dislikes when it comes to social media?
Do you avoid it altogether and find that life is just as easy to navigate? ;-)
Were you a social media user that quit and has positive or negative things to share about that decision?
I'd love to hear.
I know its not for everyone and I know some people use it for a living. Its their job.
Please don't become over sensitive when you read this post. These are dangers I see. Things I've caught myself doing/thinking, that's all.

Also, happy April :) 

10 {comments}:

Melissa Joy said...

I think this was edifying, Stef, and I appreciated reading your thoughts on this subject that I have often had similar thoughts about in my own life and history. :) And I'm not just saying that because I want to be agreed with online, LOL.

Stef said...

lol, thanks Melissa. I appreciated your comment because, well, I like to be agreed with ;-)

I think the need to be agreed with is found more on places like Facebook and Twitter. There's a tendency to decide that because you're all hanging out on the same social network, you all have to agree about everything. Probably the reason people get so very heated on politics, religious stuff and other otherwise normal conversations.
Or, you have the group that refuses to even speak of those things because they know they'll start a fight with their 'friends' :-\

Charlotte said...

Good, good thoughts, Stef. I agree with you about the social media stuff...like everything in life; the TV, movies, book reading, super-obsessive house cleaning....we can always take it to far and let it control us and be our god. I do have some concerns about the future generation being so technology minded, but it does make me think of our grandmothers and what they must have thought of the telephone. (Or would that be great-grandparents?) :-)

Like you I have my limits. Since I don't have a i-phone I don't twitter or instagram, and I have quit looking at pinterest since it is either making me covet or making me feel like a total loser mom. :-) But I love FB for keeping up with family and friends, and of course I love blogging.

Good thoughts, and good questions that all of us need to be thinking about and using to re-examine our daily techy use.

Stef said...

So true, Charlotte!

Gina said...

Good truth sister! I've noticed that these things go in phases for me. Right now anything tech is challenging for me due to lack of time & not getting to e-mails really disturbs me. However getting on FB is easy with my phone & I find messenger helpful & it's nice to read feed during a long nursing session or other wait times. It's too easy to plug in often

Sendhil Panchadsaram said...

Loved this and totally agree! Agree with 1-7 but #7 resonates with me personally as it's why I detached from Facebook the same way as you around two years ago and have never been happier. Sure, I miss out on things from time to time, but I figure eventually I'll find out.

That list of questions at the end was super relevant and an unexpected bonus I reaped from detaching from a more aggressive use of Facebook and other social media. I never realized until a few months ago how constant use of social media and technology was re-wiring my brain in such a way that I couldn't focus on anything for more than a few minutes without getting bored.

Stef said...

Thanks Sendhil! What you said completely resonated with me as well.
I go back and forth with FB and mostly because, as you said, so much of life is on there. But I'm happiest and life flows much smoother when I'm on there 90% less than normal.

Something random I thought of a few days ago - my witness online is different from my witness face-to-face. Online I might be more honest or bolder with someone, but there's less sincerity because I can't see the person's face, or hear their tone. And aside from a Bible verse or song lyric, I can't really live my testimony out as effectively as I can in person. People often chalk up the online world as "totally fake" and so even when we're being real and shining Jesus' light, more often than not, people decide its fake and are sure if they spent time with you in person, you'd be exactly like them. I've actually people tell me that.

Anyway, just a side rant :)

FullofSunshine said...

Truth in every word!!! I enjoyed reading this!!!

Patti said...

Such a great post !!

Stef said...

Thanks Patti!


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