Me: Takes an adorable photo of my child. Creates a cute caption to go with. ALMOST clicks "post." But then I stop myself. Why?
Because I know there there is a chance that one person, or multiple persons, could make a derogatory comment about my self worth as a human being. They'll potentially criticize my parenting styles/skills. They will judge. Which then leads me questioning every future post I want to make.
As a woman with decade long activity on social media and with a son of my own... I find myself not sharing with the world what I think is precious, adorable, inspiring, and relatable to other moms... simply because I know that someone will tear me down. I find this very, very sad.
I understand that a lot of the criticism maybe didn't come from a condescending place, or a place of hatred... but when something is typed out and placed on social media without any way of knowing what kind of tone was actually used... not only do you feel called out, but then immediately embarrassed because everyone else just read it too. Do you delete the comment? Do you delete the post altogether? Do you defend yourself? Do you take the high road? Regardless of what you do, it still makes you not want to post anything for fear of what someone might say. Isn't it funny how we live our entire lives in fear? Fear of what others will say, think, or do?
I don't feel like social media was ever intended for these purposes. If someone asked, or wanted your opinion - they'd ask for it. Right? Social media was meant to be a creative, inspiring, and uplifting place. A place where we can share ideas and talk about things we love. A place where we can showcase the true happiness and joy and downright cool stuff life can bring. (In my opinion)
After my son goes to bed, a lot of times I lay on the couch... watch TV, and surf social media. Sometimes I literally just have to get off my phone because the things that people THINK they should say to others is heartbreaking to me. I don't care if you're Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, or not famous at all. It's never ok to tear someone down.
What happened to simply liking someones photo? Supporting them? Commenting something uplifting? There is still a select piece of the human race that does this, but then there's another piece that thinks they have this sense of entitlement to say whatever they want. Case and point would be the awful shooting that happened today in the Fort Lauderdale airport. As I watched the Facebook Live coverage on this horrific event, people were sending the 'laughing' reaction over and over and over. Who in their right mind is laughing at this? Five people are dead, and eight people are fighting for their lives. What in the world about this is funny?
I have 3 important things to say....
1. IF YOU DON'T HAVE SOMETHING NICE TO SAY, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. Didn't your Momma teach you that when you were younger? It's one of the simplest concepts out there. If you don't agree, or don't like it - keep scrolling or "unfollow." As a retail store, with a significant amount of followers, sometimes the backlash, or criticism can be overwhelming. There's a lot of times where our team comes up with something great, or cute, or just something that we want to share... but we end up not because of the critical social media world we're living in.
2. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. (personal experience below)
I have always been very active. I was overweight in high school, and then made the decision that I wanted a healthier, happier me. So, I set a goal and achieved it. When I found out that I was pregnant with my son, Samuel, I became worried that I was going to refrain back to being overweight, and not be able to lose the weight. I had so many Instagrammers that I had to "unfollow" because I found myself consumed with how much weight I was gaining, and comparing myself to these women that literally still had 6 pack abs and about to deliver. I couldn't handle the pressure. With that said, they weren't pressuring me. I was pressuring myself. Essentially, I was the one comparing myself to these other women and for me - it was an unrealistic expectation that I was beginning to feel like I had failed because I didn't look like that. The most FREEING feeling I had felt in a long time was unfollowing these people. Again, they had done nothing wrong and were trying to encourage and uplift others that it was possible to be healthy, and fit during pregnancy. However, for me it became an obsession and then lead to a mild depression. After unfollowing some of the accounts, when I would get back on my feed... I suddenly didn't feel as much pressure. I didn't feel like a failure, and ultimately I started to enjoy my pregnancy. Looking back, I wish I had been strong enough to realize that I was enough. After all, I was carrying a child, and it was OK to gain weight. The message I would like to send is comparing yourself can be positive, and negative. If you find yourself starting to feel negatively about yourself, stop. Just stop. In the end, you'll have a peace and freedom inside that's difficult for me to even put into words.
3. WHAT YOU SEE ON SOCIAL MEDIA ISN'T ALWAYS REAL LIFE.
Some of these insanely beautifully created, colorful Instagram feeds that you see aren't always what they're cracked up to be. One thing you must remember is that, what you see are highlights. People aren't going to post that they just had a huge fight with their husband or boyfriend, that they're getting laid off at work, or that they haven't showered in 2 days because their child has been sick. What you see are hand picked, EDITED, highlights of people's lives. I'm sure if you talked to these people in person, they would tell you the same thing. That their life IS NOT perfect, and never will be.
I realize this post is longer than usual, but it's something that just couldn't be summed up with "Don't compare yourself to other people." & "Be nice on social media."
With all of this said, I'd like to end it with this..
The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with someone else's highlight reel. - Steven Furtick
Rage Girl - Lori Clark