Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. These involve no extra cost to you, but may result in me receiving a small commission – for which I am very grateful! Learn more here.
Social media is everywhere. Anymore, it’s hard to check restaurant hours, find business reviews, or keep in touch with old friends without having a social media account. It’s the place where garage sales live, jobs are found, businesses gain traction in the online world, and friends (and frenemies) engage in conversations about everything from the weather to politics and religion. Marriage and baby announcements, as well as invitations to events and fundraisers, all take place on social media.
While social media offers many good opportunities, it can also create issues in our personal lives that we might not recognize until it’s too late to fix them. It’s not something to take lightly, which is why I’d like to detail the issues that can occur in five areas of our lives, and the strategies we should put in place to keep social media from destroying what’s really important.
I could probably write an entire post on the effects of social media on our self-esteem, but I’ll try to keep it short. Social media allows us to see only what our “friends” are willing to share. I don’t know about you, but I rarely post “just out of bed’ pictures on Facebook, or leave detailed Instagram posts on how I failed again today at parenting.
No, our posts to social media are, in most cases, the best of our lives at that moment, and yet, our self-esteem and feeling of self-worth tanks quickly when we realize (or believe) that everyone around us has more of [insert coveted item], does [insert your failed experiences here] better, and their kids actually smile for the camera.
It’s important to remember that what you are seeing on social media is only a fraction of what happens in real life. Don’t get bogged down in it. Celebrate the successes with those you interact with, and be honest when things aren’t going well. Others will appreciate it.
Social media also gives us a bit of a high, much like you receive from that first cup of coffee in the morning. When someone comments on our posts or “likes” them, it’s easy to get excited. On the flip side, though, when no one “likes” your posts or answers the question you’ve asked in big, bold letters, it’s easy to find yourself in a state of anxiety or depression. Self-doubt creeps in and, after awhile, can leave us in a full-fledged state of depression.
So how do you prevent it? Take a break if necessary. I took three years off from social media and it was the best choice I ever made. I’m back now, but I’m back with a new perspective and safeguards in place. I have real-life friends, ones I commit to seeing on a regular basis, and my self-worth is not tied to the reactions of those on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – as easy as it would be to fall back into that trap.
If you aren’t in the place that requires a break from social media, the easiest thing you can do is to focus on lifting others spirits on your social media platforms. Take the time to have a true discussion with others about the things they are sharing, the articles they are reading, and the life situations they are dealing with. Look outward and it will be easier to keep from believing that no one likes what you have to offer. And, as always, work harder to engage with people outside of social media.
Social media can have a huge effect on our budgets as well. Think about Pinterest, for example. It’s a fun social media platform in that there are so many beautiful pictures of projects you can do with your kids, your home, your spouse, or just by yourself. You can decorate, landscape, and reorganize every closet in little to no time, and honestly, taking on a DIY project is always tempting. The DIY project might even be cheaper than hiring a professional to get the job done, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve planned for it in this month’s budget.
You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? If you are anything like me and once you see it you have to do it, then it’s time to either get off Pinterest or set some boundaries. For me, I chose to set boundaries. If it isn’t in my current budget (or even my long-term budget) then I can pin it to save for later, but I can’t proceed with that specific project until it’s necessary. There’s no harm in saving pins for later, and coming back to them when you actually need to paint your kitchen or make a party dessert, but if it’s not in the budget, it’s not to happen right now.
I mention Pinterest because it’s my personal weakness, but I am well aware that other social media platforms can be just as enticing in their own ways. Create a plan and stick to it, and you will save that budget from failure.
Parenting is one thing I believe is directly affected by social media more often than not. One of the biggest issues is that the time spent looking at and participating in social media take us away from time spent with our children. Even my cat knows to hate my cell phone because it takes my attention off of her, and if she’s aware, then how much more are our children aware that our focus is somewhere else. Set boundaries. Decide what times of the day you are going to participate in social media and stick to that plan. Set a timer if you have to, and then set the social media aside and allow your children to have your undivided attention as a parent.
In addition to time, social media can also leave us vulnerable to comparing ourselves to other parents and our children to other children. It’s a dangerous spot to be in and, if that’s you, it’s time to see that you are unique as a parent because your children are unique. Your accomplishments, successes, and failures won’t ever look the same as those around you, and neither will your kids’ successes or failures, because God hasn’t called you to be someone else’s parent, He’s called you to be YOUR child’s parent. Be that parent, without the guilt and comparison.
In much the same way as parenting, your marriage can be affected by the time you spend looking at social media. It can keep you from having uninterrupted conversations with your spouse and not being fully engaged in activities you are participating in together. That same boundary you have around your children? Find one for your spousal time as well.
What about the details you share about your relationship on social media? If I am going to share something about my husband, I do my best to run in by him first, and I never share anything that isn’t positive. It’s important to remember that because, while I may reconcile with my husband after a bad situation has taken place, those who read or view my social media post will not have that same luxury. They will keep my bad review of my husband in their minds. Discuss it with your spouse: what you will and won’t discuss about your relationship or family on social media. Make it clear before you make an announcement to the world that creates division in your marriage.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that social media allows you to talk with individuals of the opposite sex that are not your spouse, and without your spouse being present. This can be dangerous for your marriage because of the emotional connections that can slowly take place. It could be someone that takes interest in your posts, your likes, or anything else, but the moment that emotional connection begins, it has potential to divide you and your spouse and to prevent that, there’s a need for boundaries.
There are many different preventative measures you can take to keep these dangerous connections from happening. I know many people who set a boundary that includes not accepting friend requests from individuals of the opposite sex, and it works for them. Personally, my husband and I found that it works better for us to simply hold each other accountable. He can read all of the interactions I have with my “friends” on each of my social media platforms, and every time I engage in a private conversation (for example on messenger), I share that conversation with him, and likewise. In addition, he can ask for my phone, tablet, or computer at any point in time and see what I’ve been up to, and I can do the same of him.
These methods of prevention might seem harsh or like an invasion of privacy for some, but it’s never been viewed that way by us. Whatever you choose, set a boundary to protect your marriage from intruders: it happens slowly, and it’s unlikely you will see it coming.
Relationship with God
With regards to the effect social media can have on your relationship with God, it once again boils down to time. Just like our other relationships, too much time on social media can take away from the time and commitments we’ve been called to in our “real lives”. It can take precedence over reading, studying, and meditating on God’s word.
Also – and this one’s a big one for many – you can’t get all of your Bible reading done by clicking through your Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter feeds. Sure, you might have “friended” or “liked” many great people who spend their days posting Bible verses, possibly even accompanied by a short devotional; but, while that’s great, it doesn’t take the place of the deep study and reflection we require if we are going to stand firm in the faith.
Another thing to consider as you scan your newsfeed: we can also be inundated by well-intentioned people who are speaking a version of the truth, but not in its entirety. Be wary of those wolves in sheep’s clothing. (Matthew 7:15-16)
It’s harder to know for sure when someone can post a sweet picture of themselves and write whatever they want, without you seeing how they act outside of their social media circle. Compare what is said to the truth that comes from the Word itself, and be certain before you retweet, post, or comment. Keep in mind, also, that we too need to be careful that we aren’t speaking half-truths, using convenient Biblical quotes for our own selfish purposes, and leading others astray.
Create these boundaries to protect your relationship with God because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s the only thing that matters.
In no way is this post meant to condemn the use of social media. I use social media on a daily basis, to encourage friends and family, and to promote this very blog. It’s a useful tool and, most days, I really do enjoy it. I’ve had the opportunity to come into relationship with many wonderful Christian women through it, and to remain in contact with many others from the previous places I’ve lived and worked.
Perhaps you aren’t on any of the social media sites I mentioned. Your weakness could be checking your email, watching videos on YouTube, or constantly checking the news. No matter what it is: it comes down to boundaries. Will you create them and protect these five precious areas of your life? I hope so.
Have a wonderful day!
P.S. In what ways have you had to create boundaries in your social media life?
Did you enjoy this post? If so, don’t forget to share it on Pinterest!