There are a million reasons why we post to social media. Sometimes it’s to encourage others with a funny meme or quote, while other times it’s to inform the public of an experience. If we’re on a trip, we want to share our travels with followers, or if we’re doing something fun, we want to share the memory with others.
Here’s the thing: None of these are bad. Social media can be a powerful and positive tool
for connection. Our posts only move into a questionable category when they are driven by unhealthy motives. Before you hit “post,” have you ever thought, “Why am I posting this?” Are you looking for feedback of some kind, whether it be affirmation, compliments, or a pat on the back? Or are you trying to create a story that may not be entirely true?
I’ve found myself posting in Facebook groups in the past purely seeking to affirm my choice in the parenting realm. Instead of looking for differing perspectives to add to my own thoughts and weigh into my decision, despite having asked for help or suggestion in the post, I was solely looking for someone to say, “Yes, you made the right choice,” or “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
I talked with a therapist about this very behavior. She made the most interesting point: She said she felt bad for our generation of parents because we “can barely hear our own thoughts” due to all the information out there—both informational and opinion-based. I don’t even remember what the issue was in that particular session, but I was upset and could not get my thoughts straight. She looked straight at me and said, “What do YOU think?” It was a light bulb moment. What DID I think? I have not forgotten how flipping that switch felt and neither should you.
There is nothing wrong with posting a picture of you looking fresh out on a date night. From time to time, I like to remind people that I do wear makeup and own clothing outside of leggings, and social media is a way to do that, technically. Again, here’s where motive comes in. Are you only posting it to get a response like “Oh my gosh girl! You look AMAZING!” If so, time to rethink. Getting validation and a sense of self-worth from social media moves into that unhealthy zone I was talking about, and it’s a slippery slope.
In the same camp, there is nothing wrong with posting a picture of your child ringing the bell for the Salvation Army or doing another service project. I feel like I see a lot of this around the holidays, and again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with posting this type of thing. To me, it goes back to the saying, “If a tree fell in the woods and no one heard it, did it really fall?” If I paid for the drink behind me at Starbucks and didn’t post about it, did it really happen? Do I need people to tell me what a good person or mom I am, or can I just know that without posting?
Creating an Illusion
We are all familiar with the term “highlight reel.” With our social media accounts, we get the opportunity to paint the picture we want others to see. If we want our audience to see perfection, done. If we want them to see nonstop fun, smiles, and an immaculate home, done. If we want the perception of a perfect marriage, done. You get the idea. And you also know that things are not always as they appear—so why do we do it?
While we are not personally responsible for the well-being and mental health of others, we should think about how what we are posting may affect our viewers. I don’t know about you, but I always find it so refreshing when someone posts something raw and real, whether it be an actual friend, acquaintance, or celebrity. You never know who your post may reach in their time of need. It’s a sigh of relief to know we’re not alone; shared imperfection is a breath of fresh air.
In the age of rampant social media, we have been given the unique gift of our own platform. With this gift comes some degree of personal responsibility. By thinking through the why behind our posts, we help keep ourselves in check and grounded. We each have the power of the post; what will you choose to do with it?