In light of the Sandy Hook massacre, I took some time off off from Social Media and the blog world.
Like many, it shook me to the core. I have three children the same age as the children that were murdered. Every day I drop them off at school, just as those parent did that Friday morning. The thought of what happened to those children and teachers and what the survivors are going through now is horrifying. Personally, Blogging and Social Media felt petty and insignificant in a time when so many were suffering. Time may heal all wounds, but this time I pray we begin to discuss the issue of mental illness in America instead of, once again, turning our eyes away and burying our heads.
One of the issues that came up for me personally during this tragedy, is that social media has enabled us to look the other way. We either “like” something or we don’t. If something is too painful to look at, we hide it from our feed. If we don’t like what someone has to say, we change our settings and make that person disappear from our feed. Where is the understanding that comes with seeing all sides? As Americans, I feel that often times we are so spoiled that we refuse to be uncomfortable. At the slightest sign of discomfort we immediately anesthetize ourselves with food, shopping, drugs, alcohol, and Social Media. Yes, I said it, Social Media! My opinion is that we escape our reality through social media. Just like food, everything in moderation is fine, but when it has consumed our lives we have a problem.
It’s become apparent that the more uncomfortable and empty your offline life feels, the more you turn to the computer to dull that pain. How do I know this is true? Because I’ve been there myself and still catch myself from meandering to the computer when I am attempting to check out from my stressful life. I blog not for profit but to be heard, to be seen, as if I’m invisible in my home life. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am visible and my children and husband need me and deserve a Mom who is present and with them even when things don’t go as planned. Parenting can be difficult, demanding and very uncomfortable at times. One of the many things that running has taught me is to embrace discomfort. You will have runs that seem effortless and wonderful, but I assure you if you are working at being a faster runner there are many times when it hurts. You can not avoid that or turn your back on the vexatious workouts, it is what makes us improve and grow. Parenting is no different.
Overall, I think we need to check ourselves at the Social Media door every once in a while. I believe these platforms do so many great things and help us to connect and stay in touch, but we need to ask ourselves “Am I going overboard?” Do you really need to blog every day? Post every thought and deed on Twitter or Facebook? I am not saying cut yourself off but, rather, are you being present with your children, your husband, and the people that love and care for you? Is your life balanced and are you posting quality material? Blogging is fun and instantly rewarding but, in the end, it’s not the only thing that defines you. The people who care and love you need you more than cyberspace does. I would like to end with some tips I use for keeping online and offine lives balanced:
1. Blog or use Social Media platforms only while your children are in school or asleep.
2. Unless you are a food blogger, do not blog about everything you eat and drink… use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to post what you are eating and, if you get a huge response, then consider posting the recipe.
3.I know many will disagree but, you don’t need to respond to every comment on your blog… it is very time consuming and if you write good material, people will come back to your site. I think the only time you need to respond is when someone new comments or it was a particullary meaningful remark. I certainly don’t expect this and I loyally comment on many blogs.
4. Take regular breaks from Social Media and blogging. You do not need to appoligize for taking breaks and your loyal readers will stick with you. As for the rest? They’re are in it for themselves and, well, don’t let the door hit ‘em in the ass when they stop reading.
5. Learn to embrace the discomforts of life and ride them out like a wave. When situations go array, catch yourself from getting on the computer or your phone. You may actually enjoy the outcome and I believe ultimately this will raise your self esteem in a healthy, productive way.