I LOVE the internet, I love all that it has given me. It has enabled me to carve out a place for myself, a career that fits around my family. However, it really can be a double-edged sword. As much as it is filled with wonderful advice and inspiration, it also makes me regularly question myself and sometimes like today it makes me want to RAGE!
Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. From the pregnancy to dealing with two headstrong tweens and all the things in between. The strange thing is it seems to be all or nothing. We have great days and then we have rotten days and no happy medium. It really seems as though life is an emotional rollercoaster.
I have always tried to keep this little part of the internet real. I strive for it to be authentic and make sure I am honest and open on the internet. I want this to be a positive and helpful place and I think that I can only do that by sharing the highs and the lows. It is through the internet that I extended my village with people that help keep me sane and introduce me to wonderful TV like Gilmore Girls.
However, I am not immune to reading things on the internet that make me feel inadequate. Things that make me feel as though I am failing at being a good mum or not having the best career. How I can be a better mother, how I can earn more, how best to juggle work and family, how being up an hour before the kids would transform my life.
I currently feel as though the internet is feeding me a lie. It is telling me I can have it all.
Well, you know what? I can not have it all. As much as I try I can not give 100% to everything. I only have 100% of myself to give and somewhere I need to have time for me. So I have to make a choice. A choice to how I split my energy. I do not have family to help me raise my children, I have a husband that goes out to work to help support us and between the two of us we do THE BEST WE CAN.
And if doing the best we can means that sometimes balls get dropped well then that is how it is. If I am there 100% for my child then that means that I am not present for work and most of the time I am OK with that. Most of the time I know where my priorities lie and have come to terms with that. Hell, my boys are 12 and 11 and I feel like I only gave birth to them yesterday.
Parenting is a constant battle between going to bed to catch up on sleep or staying awake to finally get some alone time.
Add in cooking from scratch, reading a book for me, exercise, sex (What is that!), watching TV, housework, mowing the lawn and everything else, it is a wonder we get any sleep let alone manage to brush our teeth twice a day.
I am 40 something women with a Pinterest board full of quotes about insecurity, inferiority and failure!
The thing is I work in social media and I know that it doesn’t represent the whole, it is just a snapshot, often of the best bits that people have shared. It is the peonies and beautiful flat lays on Instagram and the blog posts professing how wonderful things are. I can understand that people mainly want to share the good parts of the lives, the highlights and joy. That is their prerogative as it is their space, however, it is really important to have balance or at least understand that this is not a true representation of their everyday life.
It is just like this photo taken by the talented Liam Crawley. You would never guess that the beach was full of people. it is all about how he has edited the shots.
Now if the internet can make me feel this way it comes as no surprise that social media can have such a negative impact on teens mental health.
As my boys are older I have to take their wishes into consideration with the things I share, so perhaps I too am guilty of not sharing when we have a tantrum or meltdown, but I have never sugarcoated the fact that I find being a mum blooming hard work. That I strive to balance a life with Xboxes and tablets with the need for my family to live a creative life. That weekends are filled with football and cricket and that finding any me time is a real challenge.
So how can we stop making people feel inadequate? How can we stop social media making people (including me) feel insecure, less than or really competitive? I am going to share some things that worked for me.
WAYS TO STOP COMPARING OUR LIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Take yourself offline
When I feel inadequate or see something that makes me feel like I am not living my best life then I turn off my social media. I put my phone away and go and see my real life friends. A lot of the time we make a pot of tea and then just laugh and put the world to rights. If it is a specific thing that has affected me then I have a couple of great friends who move in the same circle as me who can always put things into perspective. They really help me strengthen my bulls&%£ filter which we all need when viewing social media. This is something that I am trying to instil in the boys. We have times when none of us has any tech (most nights after 6pm) and one day at the weekend and the Husbeast doesn’t have any presence on social media at all which really helps.
This is one thing that really works for me and something that I have been working on for a long time. I try and end my day with three things that I am grateful for. I find by opening my heart and head to the positives it leaves much less room for any negativity. We also do this as a family and have a Gratitude Journal.
Put things into perspective
The reality is often what is lost on social media. We emphasise the best versions of ourselves instead of the real versions. Life can be hard, ugly, and downright depressing at times. But those likely aren’t the adjectives most of us would use to describe the photos we post to our accounts. As soon as you realise this and start looking at the reality it becomes easy to look beyond and put things into perspective
Do what you love
I find that by focusing on things that give me pleasure in real life, my online life becomes less significant. Instead of being jealous I can appreciate what other people appear to have. So for me, this means family time, reading, cooking and eating well and following creative pursuits such as sewing.
If all else fails and you’ve found yourself really stuck then stop following the people to whose lives you’re constantly comparing your own. Spend some time with yourself! Figure out what you really want in life and how to get it. Then other people’s lives won’t seem so enviable after all. I wish it was as easy as this – there are a couple of accounts that I follow that really do give me the rage. It is like picking at a scab!
I know the Internet is filled with lies. I know that it’s a combination of showing off, wishful thinking and advertising – authenticity is now just a marketing buzzword describing a certain sort of marketing-led content, in many ways. As savvy media consumers, we know this, and we teach our kids this, but it’s not always easy to believe, is it?
I both love and hate the internet in equal measure. It too has brought so many wonderful things to my (our) lives, yet also so many negatives too. I know that Social Media is just a snippet, a nanosecond into someone else’s life, but even that tiny amount can trigger feelings of my own failures, insecurities etc. I often say how glad I am that I was a child/teenager in this day and age, I honestly don’t think I could cope with it. In my day someone might have said something mean to me, and that would be it – now the world and its wife can gang up on you online, in forums, on Twitter etc etc.
I have applied some of your tips to my life already – stepping away from the internet is a good, GOOD, thing. I even took drastic steps and used a blocker to ban me from certain sites. Yes there are ways around it, but that knee jerk reaction to check was taken away. I also unfollowed lots of people that didn’t inspire or that I could relate to.
I could go on, but don’t want my comment to become its own blog post! Great post Jen, and plenty of food for thought
I unfollowed some blogs recently because they talked about their kids being so well behaved. And I don’t wish any malice to them at all but when you’ve had a chair thrown at your head twice in a day you just can’t face reading that stuff. I don’t blog about issues with my kids, but boy, the last few days I’ve really been thinking about starting a secret blog to get all my stresses out…
Love these tips – definitely need to remind ourselves to put things in perspective and put our own needs first. The internet has got so many positives but it is a marketing tool and thus a dark side that attacks our insecurities. xxx
Really good post Jen with lots of useful practical tips. My default coping mechanism personally is to retreat (back away from the computer or phone!!) I switch it off and immerse myself in real life – a hug from my hubby, sharing a laugh with the kids. This is where I renew myself.
I have also unfollowed social accounts (or just hidden them from my timeline) if ‘de-friending’ would cause upset!
I do also recognise however that often it is not the person broadcasting who is trying to make everyone else feel bad – it is them sharing (or over sharing) their news to get others to celebrate their joy (or if we are talking about someone passive aggressive – that is a whole other story!) But I know if I am irritated or upset by something online, sometimes it is more about they way I feel about myself that day, rather than them. To allow other people to upset us too much is to give them too much power, and I think it’s therefore important to learn how to build ourselves up – so we cannot be easily knocked.
Your ways of coping – your gratitude, eating well, and your sewing are all positive tools. I like keeping a gratitude journal too.
Fab post! It is so easy to compare yourself to someone on social media who appears to have the perfect life! But more often than not they don’t….as you say just sharing the best bits.
I love social media to connect with others but yes it can be tiring. Some great tips!
It is so easy to compare your life with others on social media and I know we are very priviledged with a lot of the opportunities we are offered. That doesn’t stop the frustration when you get yet another phone call from school because your child is mis-behaving. I try and keep it real, it’s awkward when the teen no longer wants including etc. Great post 🙂
It’s easy to compare our lives with others on social media, too easy. I haven’t let the kids go on social media, but we do talk about the positive and especially the negative side. I take myself off social media a lot when I am feeling down and negative. It never helps and can be quite detrimental. I don’t want to come across negative too as I know I should be grateful for what I have and I am. My kids aren’t angels far from it. I am also no angel, we try to balance it and it’s just being human. Great post lovely xx
Just what I needed to read right right 🙂
I get how social media works, as others have said it’s a good way to connect but if you are having a bad day and all you see is how wonderful everything is with everyone else it can really knock you out of kilter. Im learning to take time out, unfollowing people, deactivating and deleting some social media accounts atm. I like the idea of a gratitude journal I used to do that, must start again. Enjoyed reading this 🙂