Social media and I have had a bit of a turbulent relationship since I started blogging. On one hand I absolutely love it. I love that being online these days you can be part of these amazing little communities without even leaving your sofa. I especially love Instagram for this and I think the new(ish) stories update has made it even better. On my worst days with the kids, when I’ve hardly slept the night before, I desperately need a shower that I’m not going to get, and I’ve cleaned up so many messes by 10am that the thought of trying to leave the house leaves me exhausted, pale and sweaty… well on those days I can just open up a little app on my phone and there you go, a little escape. A whole world of people, from other mums like me having the same issues, living the same life, to extremely glamorous people living their lives against white backgrounds… and everything in between. When I’ve shared problems online I’ve had support and condolences from people I have never met and that is truly amazing. Sharing my day to day on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter (lol I never go on Twitter), makes me feel less invisible. Being at home with the kids is amazing, but it’s also blimmin thankless work and sometimes it’s nice just to say ‘hey, I did this thing today’ and for other people to say ‘oh cool, we did this…’. It’s as simple as that really.
But then there’s the other side of me that gets so frustrated with the whole thing sometimes that I just to throw my phone into the sea (can you imagine!). Sometimes being on social media can feel a little bit like being back at school, standing on the sidelines of the playground thinking ‘why does nobody want to talk to me today?’ or getting your marked work back from the teacher and all it has on it is a spelling mistake circled in red pen and not the gold star that you were hoping for.
Over Christmas I gave myself a complete break from all social media, it was the best thing I could have done at the time and it gave me a chance to have a think about how I can detoxify my relationship with social media and make it only a positive thing in my life in 2017.
I realise that this post so far is making me sound like a bit of a sad individual who has no life and is far too neurotic about social media. Well, that’s mostly true, but if there’s one thing that the internet has taught me it’s that if I’m like this then there’s probably at least a few other people out there feeling like this too. So I’ll embarrass myself here just in case it can help anyone else… here is how I am learning to live in harmony with social media in 2017.
Give yourself permission to take a break
I put far too much pressure on myself to post consistently on Instagram, at least once a day or I feel like I’ve failed. This might just be a blogger thing, I know I never felt like this before I started blogging and I think it has a lot to do with all the ‘blogging tips’ posts that I have read in my fruitless (now abandoned) quest to be a better blogger. But sometimes I just need some time away. Maybe I have other things in my life that demand my full attention, maybe I just need to shut out the noise of everyone else and focus on me and mine for a little bit. A break from the online world can be a really good thing. I know before Christmas I was struggling to work out what it was I actually wanted to do with my blog, how I should be parenting my kids, what I wanted my house to look like… I know it sounds ridiculous but when you are constantly reading other people’s thoughts all day long, it can get hard to distinguish them from your own. Sometimes you need to step away for a while so you can come back more ‘you’. For me, because I’m slightly crazy, I can’t just skip a day and not post… I need to give myself permission to stop. I need to say to myself ‘I’m taking a break today’ and then I won’t feel guilty about it. Bloggers may get this… other people will think I’ve absolutely lost it.
If you’re feeling a bit down about yourself, step away from the phone.
Sometimes when you’re feeling rubbish, social media can be a great thing. If the kids are being little beasts, your husband looked at you the wrong way and it really pissed you off, or Pizza Hut forgot the extra olives on your large vegetable supreme with stuffed crust… ahem. By all means rant away, look at pretty pictures, binge read Hurrah for Gin and laugh yourself silly, whatever makes you feel better. But in my experience, if I’m feeling a bit down, a bit insecure, a bit inadequate… it’s usually the first place I turn but the last place I should be. It’s all too easy to compare yourself to others when they’re showcasing their lives online, especially since we all only share the best bits really. Instead do something that will actually make you feel better. Have a soak in the bath, do some exercise, eat a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s… whatever floats your boat. But don’t get drawn into beating yourself up because your tile grout isn’t as clean as @whoever’s and you don’t have any pot plants in your kitchen and your kids had fish fingers for tea not quinoa. I’m not naive enough to think that one photo tells the whole story of someone’s life, but that comparison thing just isn’t rational and it won’t listen to reason.
Remember the ‘social’ bit of social media.
Ok so, mindlessly scrolling through and liking photos is one way to be on Instagram, but it’s probably not the most rewarding way. Why not try actually getting to know the people that you follow online? Remember there is an actual real person behind every photo, every status, every blog post… maybe they’d like to hear from you? Maybe they could be your new best friend! Or you know, :insert something less creepy: This is something I am trying to remind myself about regularly because erm… I’m not very good at making friends and I follow a lot of people. But I’m trying to make my online life more about making actual genuine connections with people… you know, like real life (yeah I’m not so great at that either).
Share whatever the bloomin heck you like.
Did you know that if you share edited snippets of your life on social media then you are fake and a phoney and everyone hates you? Oh and also if you share too much of your life online then you are boring and self obsessed and nobody cares… No? Well that’s because it’s not true, but I’ve read things along those lines in the past and it has made me doubt myself. Now I share all kinds of things, but I don’t share everything. One day I might feel like showing you my bed hair and messy house on my YouTube channel and the next day I might just want to post pretty pictures of the kids running through fields on Instagram. That’s my prerogative. Neither of them are a lie, neither of them are fake, they are both my life. If you worry about what other people might think of your Instagram feed then that is a slippery slope straight down to crazy town. Just post whatever makes you happy and who gives a crap how many likes it gets?
So there you go, some new things I’m doing to try to stop being quite so insane about social media. If anyone else is a little bit crazy like me then please let me know and make me feel better! Or if you have any tips for the times when Instagram makes you go a little bit mental then do let me know.
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