Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Social Media: Friend or FoeI’m going to open up to you about something now that is personal and somewhat embarrassing – and near and dear to my heart. I let social media make me feel bad. There. I said it. It is something that has plagued me in the past, and I’m guessing I’m not alone!

More and more, I find myself comparing as I scroll. Wow, that’s a cute living room. Way cuter than mine! Oh gosh, I wish we went on a beach vacation. They must be really good at managing their money. Oh my WORD – look at her son’s outfit! I’ve got to start shopping on Etsy. Oh she is so fit and cute. I wish I was more like her. Look at all of those likes! She is so clever and funny. Wow, she is so spiritual. I never would have been able to connect _________ to the gospel and share it. She’s basically Jesus’s biggest ally right now.

Do you see what I’ve done in that quick 2-minute check in? Bred some serious discontentment with my circumstances and myself. There’s an old saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” (amen) – and I’m slowly realizing that social media is a hotbed of comparison fodder for me.

On the other hand, social media can be great inspiration! New ideas for my home, motivation to get more done, inspiration when I’m feeling in a rut with personal photography, cute ideas to do with my kids – not to mention awesome info that I wouldn’t have found in the days before Facebook and Instagram were so popular are all at my fingertips at a simple touch of a screen.

Not only that, I’ve found great connections with women who are now dear friends and wonderful confidants – all from the wonder of FB groups and mutual friend connections. I don’t have a ton of adoptive mama friends, access to birth mother perspectives and transracial adoptee insight in my own neighborhood, but with the wonder of social media I do have access to these things – and it’s an asset!

For me, the struggle is in finding the balance: the benefits of sharing, learning, connecting without the comparison and jealousy, if you will. I’ve been working to implement some ‘social media self care’ techniques, if you will, and I would love to share them with you.

First, I try to allow myself to “unfollow” anyone at any time. This has nothing to do with if I like someone or not, but if everything about them and how awesome they are makes me feel bad about me or what I’m doing, it’s a lot healthier for me to just step away. This doesn’t as much refer to friends of mine, more to IG accounts that are full of gorgeous photos of perfectly groomed children romping about in perfectly designed and decorated homes with darling outfits and gorgeous mothers and the like. Ahem.

I’ve also been setting limits on how much time I spend on social media. I think there is great value in it – but just like anything, sometimes less is more. I don’t want social media to be my entire social life! I’ve found it so refreshing when I remove a few of those little luring icons from the home screen on my phone and therefore remove the ability to mindlessly check in – even just a day of two can help reign in the habit.

Finally, perspective. Sometimes (always?) it’s hard to keep in mind that who I am has nothing to do with who other people are. My worth – as a woman, a mother, a wife, a homemaker, a teacher, a photographer – has nothing to do with how my life appears on social media, and nothing to do with how others’ lives appear on social media. This is what I have to remember.

Do any of you struggle with this? What have you found that helps with the comparison battle? I’d love to hear!

Katie is the mama to four little loves ages 4 and under through adoption and birth. While not native to the Kansas City area, she and her husband have called this beautiful place home since they moved here immediately after they married six years ago. A short stint living in Florida only confirmed what they knew - Kansas City is the place to be! When she's not wiping bottoms, getting or giving hugs, playing chase, buckling car seats, reading to many small ears, or hiding in the pantry with a piece of chocolate and a moment on Instagram, she can be found researching anything dealing with transracial adoption, postpartum wellness, and homeschooling. She blogs over at The Ballard Abode and loves connecting with other mamas. You can also find her on Instagram at @katieballard.