Social Media, if it’s not monitored properly can be a nasty, nasty beast. It can be hard to feel good about yourself when you see endless photos and status updates about perfect people, living their perfect life. A lot of people only put their best foot forward, leaving the dark side to hide in the shadows.
I’m wary of people who only post the good things, nothing is ever wrong in their life. They have a perfect husband, perfect children and live in their perfect house. This probably sounds a hell of a lot like sour grapes and you’re most likely right. However, I worry about the implications these perfect portrayals have on those who are feeling alone, who are struggling.
I often find myself thinking that I am only posting the negative in my life, that I seem to do nothing but complain. I guess this is how I use my social media. I use it to vent, air my grievances and disdain for the world around me. I have a filter but it’s opposite to the perfect life, maybe I forget the silver lining and can’t see the world for the dark clouds.
We’ve become a voyeuristic world, reality television is outnumbering the dramas. I don’t think this is a bad thing, if it’s controlled properly. Children are gaining access to social media earlier and earlier. Our initial reaction may be to push back, bury our heads in the sand and restrict our children. This simply won’t work.
I remember the determination I had as a teenager. The worst that seemed to be around when I was younger was pro eating disorder forums, many that I was a part of. I looked at picture after picture of bodies that I deemed to be perfect. I knew tips and tricks to lose weight fast, I shared ways that I punished myself for the meager amount of food I had eaten. There was always people there to to cheer me on, people just as sick as I was. These forums have now moved into the social media realm. They are in your face, easier to find. The faster that social media develops new ways to combat them, they just keep popping up quicker and quicker.
It probably makes me sound older than my years but things they are a-changing. The only thing we can do is educate ourselves, educate our children and be aware that not everyone uses social media the same way that we do. There are people out there who use it to connect to others, to feel less alone but there are also people who use it to hurt and bully.
I hope that by the time Mr 4 is navigating social media by himself that these things won’t be such an issue, but I fear that I may be mistaken. The digital world is moving forward, are you ready for it?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT
Interesting post. Has me thinking.
You see, I’m the opposite. I am attracted to the good news and the positive status’ because it keeps me in a happy and hopeful frame of mind. I avoid the venting … I feel as though it kind of poisons me and strips me of my silver lining. Yes, I am probably an ostrich. LOL.
Nothing wrong with needing a bit of positive in your life to help with your mood!
So this is interesting. I have what I call the facebook elite. They are a handful of people that post things for discussion. You actually engage. It can be out of the newspaper, random thoughts or ‘I want to go here, anyone else want to do it” type things. If you are just posting photos of your kids, where you are eating , what you are eating or the worst, the weather (what temperature it is on your iPhone), then all I can do is press ‘like’ and move along. We’re not really engaging, you’re broadcasting….
However, I am often told I don’t use FB ‘properly’. To me, I don’t need reinforcement that my kids are beautiful (they are) and I know that really, deep down, people aren’t that interested in other peoples kids. (shhh, you know you think that!)
So what do I get out of SM? Quite a lot, but it involves joking or arguments or discussion. Usually with the same 5 or 6 people. If I am just getting likes then I’m not getting anything…(to me a like is a ‘I’m just being polite but couldn’t care less’)
So I say, use it how you want, and then you’ll get a lot from it. Conform and you may as well not bother.
haha you aren’t using it right at all :P. It’s supposed to be for less trivial things than that silly you!
I do like your last line. Although I think if I posted half the stuff on FB that I post on twitter, I would only have a handful of friends left..man I just love twitter.
It’s a can of worms isn’t it. I too get annoyed or frustrated by those striving for perfection by posting beautiful photos of their life but also those who do this and then complain about some little thing that went wrong and woe is them! People have real problems and can only dream about something as trivial as their daughter refusing to put her shoes on.
The thing is I guess, everyone is facing their own battles and this is how they choose to deal with it. I suppose it doesn’t make it right or wrong does it?
I agree that education is the way forward for our children and social media. It’s not going away and we thing next big thing hasn’t even been invented yet.
I think it comes down to being mindful.
Yep being mindful is so important. If we don’t at least try to be aware of the potential problems then we have no hope of trying to help our child navigate their online world.
You know, I tried a social media detox for a while because it seemed to be the thing all the cool kids were doing.
But, the truth is, I really do love it. I vent, I gloat, I over-share… but that’s what do with my friends in person as well.
I find Facebook an especially great way to keep in touch with long distance friends and family – it’s not a replacement to phone calls and visits – it’s an addition.
I don’t need anyone to ‘like’ my posts and photos – but if they’re my ‘friend’s I at least expect them to be interested. 🙂
I love social media too. I love the connections that I have made through it and continue to make.
We’re on the same page with our posts today, Tegan. The perils of social media are real. Mr 4 won’t know a world before social media – and that is food for thought. As both parent and teacher, I feel education, communication is the key to coping for our kids 🙂
Yep those are definitely the key to helping our kids. After that we just need to hope for the best I think.
It is really tough this online world. The perfect lives some people “appear” to lead can make others feel like their life is rubbish. I find on facebook I keep it pretty positive but on my blog I am more honest, but there aer things I keep to myself as well. I worry for my teens, it is a scary online world.
My Facebook is pretty low key. I mainly use it for groups and games so there isn’t a great deal of status updates. It is a scary world and I fear that it is only going to get worse as it becomes more accessible.
You know how much I loathed Facebook in the end. It’s poisonous and addictive. The lies people tell, the fakery of it all, the constant intrusiveness, the horrible ads. It made me dislike people I had known my whole life, I could see through their false faces and some of the things people were liking and commenting on made me feel sick. Which is why, after five years on there, I ditched it completely. Best decision I ever made. I do get why people stay on it, I understand ALL of the reasons, they were what kept me coming back for five years – but as for me I am vastly relieved to be free of its lies and snares.
You are wise beyond your years.
Somedays it feels like my block list grows bigger by the day on Facebook. When compared with Twitter it really can be a poisonous place to be. I mainly use it for blogging and playing games these days.
Considering I had blocked 1,960 people – or thereaobuts – on Twitter the day I threw the towel in, I would have really had to try hard to beat that record 😀
PS, loving your new copyright message “Ripping shit off is not cook ok” 😀
haha I pinched it off this cool chick who should really get her arse back on twitter because we miss her..
It is so true, we have so many opportunities to compare ourselves to others and think how much better they are, I know I am guilty of it! And photo-shop in magazines and online only makes it worse. Women and girls especially have to aspire to be the perfect, gorgeous, perpetually put-together wonder woman that walks down the catwalk in the morning (3 days after giving birth mind) and is still home in time to make dinner and play with her gorgeous baby. Realistic (and unreal!) and very dangerous for our sanity and self-worth. The answer? No idea but I would really love to know!
I would really love to know as well!
I have so much to learn about social media. I enjoy seeing what people are up to in life and I’m a bit naive in believing that most of it is real life, not just the highlights. I don’t take it too seriously and rarely post myself. Mind you, now that I’m blogging, I’m trying to learn because it is apparently the holy grail of growing said blog. I guess, social media is becoming like the trashy magazines that I stopped buying long ago. It is a reality check to think about the world that our kids are entering that is for sure!
I think having a few teenagers on my friends list on FB has definitely opened my eyes. Also following a few accts on twitter that cop a fair bit of flack is an eye opening experience!
I am pretty crap on Social Media. I cannot understand how it is addictive for others. I use it for the blog and am obviously terrible at it, but if I don’t post photo’s there probably wouldn’t be much going on my page or twitter account.
As for our kids, it scares the crap out of me. If I get jealous of others lives and make comparisons what hope do our impressionable 4 year olds have as they grow. Hopefully, I can help him to keep it in perspective, but I am still susceptible so I’m not sure how this will turn out.
I always think that awareness is the first step. Being aware of our feelings may not be the end of it, but it’s certainly a lot better than pretending it doesn’t exist.
I swing both ways when it comes to social media, sometimes I get tired of all the gloss and other times if I am feeling a bit down, it takes the right post to hurl me out of it. Either way being a single mum, I do enjoy the ‘company’ of others and I don’t feel quite so alone. xx N
Social media definitely helps on the lonely nights when the only conversation you’ve had is with a small child x
I think the only way forward is education and awareness and parents stepping up to realise that this is now well and truly part of their domain – control what your kids do, monitor what they do and be the first line of action, education and person they turn to when they start to drown in this social media vortex.
Yes to all of this. My partner would prefer to just stick his head in the sand and say ‘well I think social media is stupid’. It’s all well and dandy if he doesn’t want to do it, but the truth is that our child will be using it in a daily capacity before we know it and the only way we can keep up is educate ourselves!
Oh it’s such a hard issue isn’t it! I kinda like seeing everyones positive posts and think it’s nice for them to share things that make them happy. But I do understand that by doing so it could upset people who are struggling. Maybe it’s just a case of being selective with what you read and surrounding yourself with friends (real or FB) that make you feel good! 🙂 xxx
I guess for me it’s more of a personal thing..like the couple you know is having issues posting ‘omg I love you so much status’ to each other every day. I’m not saying they should be fighting every single day on there..but I guess I just don’t see the point in showing a facade.
I’m actually very scared for my children and all that they will come up against in the social media world. My friend’s 12 year old has already been the victim of bullying via FB PM – sucks so much. But we have to train them young, or send them somewhere remote so the phone reception is REALLY BAD 🙂
Haha I like your idea! Social media makes it so much easier to be a bully. It’s easy for people to pile on or join in when they can’t see how the person is being affected. It is less in your face and so those who are easily lead astray can tend to join in the bandwagon a lot quicker.
This is a really tricky one. I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I suffered severe post natal depression with my first child and now 7 years later I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I really try to always see the positive in everything and I think you can never judge a book by its cover. I do totally agree that social media can have a really dark, nasty side which I really hope I can protect my kids from too xx
That’s great that you are the happiest you have ever been!
I admit that I’ve sometimes been envious of what others have posted and then I think about what I’ve posted and whether it could make someone else feel the same. Our kids will grow up with social media and all we can do is educate them about the use and I don’t know really what else I can do but I will cross that bridge when we come to it because I honestly can’t predict what the online world will be like in 5 or 10 years time.
I have no idea what the social media future holds either but like you I want to help educate my son so that he can feel safe online, as well as know that he can come to me if something is wrong.
I read this early this morning and saw some parallels between the social media space and what I wrote about the mass media in terms of our voyeuristic tendencies. It’s one great big feeding frenzy. It worries me deeply how we’ll navigate this with the girls as they get older. One of Maya’s friends is already at age 10 posting some borderline inappropriate stuff on Instagram and her parents don’t seem as concerned about it as I am which then makes me look like the fun hater.
Thanks for another thought-provoking post. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think you come across as continually negative, I think that’s just your perception! I worry about that myself often too…
I have a few teenagers on my FB and Instagram (family friends and younger cousins) and some of the things they or their friends post are horrendous. It’s so hard to find the balance between letting them have their space and keeping things appropriate. On one hand you want to make sure they are keeping safe but on the other you don’t want them to feel like they can’t come to you if something goes wrong.
Social media certainly broadcasts messages far and wide, although the messages (positive and negative) never really change I think. There are people who are always telling me how great life is in the ‘real world’ too – I don’t believe them there either! I love social media but it definitely scares me too. By the time our young kids are into it though, I’d imagine there’ll be a whole new level of it to make sense of. It’s hard to be truly prepared.
It’s definitely hard to be truly prepared. I guess all we can do is continue to educate ourselves and stay aware of the things around us as they develop.
Not to sound like a pessimist but I don’t think we’ll ever be fully ready for the future of social media. We can try and keep abreast as much as possible but realistically, it’s hard.
The past 3 months I haven’t been using social media as much as I used to but if I don’t, I’m out of the loop.
It’ll be very interesting to see what my kids will be using it for.
I don’t think it’s pessimistic to think that we’ll ever be full ready. It’s a bit like child birth. You can read all the how to books ever printed and you still won’t be ready!
I was just thinking about this the other day. I think those who present such perfect lives on social media are not only doing others a disservice, but also themselves.
When you’re not sharing your downs as well as your highlights, you miss out on the amazing community that surrounds you, which will help build you up and show you that you’re not alone. It can be an amazing tool to help you back up again.