There was something else about social media I wanted to address that I forgot to mention in the last post. Social media has a bigger influence on us than just who we follow and what we put on the page. The addition of features such as “favorites” “likes” “retweeting” and ads have expanded the reach of social media into even more areas of my life. There is a such thing as online peer pressure now; facebook will suggest pages for me to like, telling me which friends of mine have already liked it. Even if I follow a select amount of people carefully chosen to influence me positively, there are still featured posts and promoted tweets that make it into my timeline that I don’t follow or endorse.
The worse thing may be the ads. I can’t tell you how many times ads on Facebook have unsettled me. I could have just left off reading the Word and praying and have decided to be content in the season I am in, and here comes Facebook with an ad for Verragio engagement rings. I’ve just decided to trust God’s timing with when I’ll be finished with this book and should market it, and here will come the ads for how to publish your book. It’s like their in my head.
If I read the statuses of my friends and they are in a different season of life and appear to be so happy getting married and having babies, I can be discontent, but I also feel happy for them because I know them and their stories. But there are times when the statuses and the ads get to be too much. I read a post by a high school classmate who had gotten a three book deal. When we were in school together, her love was theater production, and still is. I was the writer; everyone knew that. But here she was doing what I wanted to do. I’ve seen someone on twitter that I don’t know personally write a Christian book for women that has sold tremendously, like I hope my book will. But I am not there yet. I’ve seen so many people, many of whom I thought I would have beaten to milestones get married, have children, advance in their careers, find success with their dream jobs, move forward, and instead of feeling joy, I just felt upset that it didn’t seem to be my time for anything, not one thing.
These are the times when no amount of unfriending and unfollowing will do. The ads will still pop up; strangers’ blogs will suddenly reference all of these things happening for them. The only thing to do at that point is to draw back from the social media rat race. Last year, I did a social media fast for a couple weeks. I felt like I couldn’t hear God through all of the information I took in from so many different sources online. I was so discontent and disappointed and disenchanted. I needed to get clear on my purpose and my focus. I needed to allow God to tell me where I was and why, and not everyone else. Whether they were inspirational or inspired me to jealousy, I backed away from them and read the Bible.
It was hard at first, but it got easier. I was able to see that I wasn’t where I wanted to be, nor had I put in all the work I need to put in, to be properly situated for the things I wanted. It’s easy to forget that people aren’t posting every step of their journeys everyday of their lives online. You only see what they want you to know: when times are celebratory or things are happening that they may have been working on for years. You don’t always see when they argue with their spouses or are disappointed with their children.You don’t always see when they want to be alone and can’t get away from their families. You don’t see when the deadline is near and they have nothing to write about. We miss all of the sowing and are judging ourselves by the reaping, and it’s not fair to us.
There are days when I don’t write posts because I’m tired, it’s been a long day, and I have other things to do. Then there are days when I don’t feel like I have anything interesting or inspired to say. I have to keep up a certain high standard of posting. I have to know what people need to hear or are interested in so that I have something relevant to say. Blogging was supposed to be freeing, but if I give in to the pressure to try and gain followers and get views, it’s not freeing or fun anymore. I’m not serving my purpose in posting.
What am I saying? In addition to being cognizant of who we follow and what we put out for public consumption, be cognizant of the feelings provoked by ads. Realize that you are seeing what one twitter user calls the “highlight reel” of someone’s life, not the dailies. When it gets to influencing you to much or you see yourself compromising your character, withdraw from it. Put some distance between you and negative influences and renew your strength. Control the flow of information.
That’s my two cents, anyway. Feel free to leave yours in the comment section.
Note: this wasn’t the post I was supposed to be writing today, but I wanted to finish my thoughts on social media before moving on. The real post is still in the works.