Symptoms of Social Networking

As a little girl, I remember the phone ringing on our home land line, my mom answering; sitting down at a kitchen table chair for long phone conversations, or cleaning the kitchen counters, the rigatoni rope cord reaching across to the sink, for short talks.

It's crazy to think my boys will never know what a home phone is, they'll never see their mom sit on a kitchen chair talking into a receiver while they play cars on the floor.

Nowadays, it's talk-on-the-go, catch-up-on-the-way-to-or-from-preschool-drop-off/pick-up-as-I-tilt-into-the-earpiece-type-of-conversation. People are busy, so we text to connect. It's social networking without the social.

Now don't get me wrong. I love seeing Instagram pictures of Megan qualifying for the Boston Marathon, oohing at Karen's adorable daughter's in MA. I love reading life as you live it blog, and feeling closer to @imegdale through her tweets.

But I've noticed a subtle inner shift as I've delved deeper into the social media circuit these past few years...

What started out as convenience at my fingertips in the form of a smart phone, has grown into a habitual pattern of stabbing the home button on my iphone for recent texts, my eyes following the miniature rays of sun circles in search of an updated email inbox. Spare moments are filled by checking FB, and my thumb absentmindedly scrolls down the Instagram feed without even thinking. I'm a junkie in need of a social media high, minutes away from a hit for the next technology fix.

Anyone else guilty of this?

As grateful as I am for internet access within mere milliseconds, my soul has been warning me of a subconscious social networking symptoms: the tragedy of assumption, comparison, and depression!!

You see, when I live in the socially dependent world of blog highs and Instagram hits, a land {mostly} full of happy FB updates, creative Pinterest projects, and magazine appearance-like blog posts I lose sight of reality, of the everyday, of our family and God-impressing perspective. I get swallowed up by the assumption monster, sticky and floating in depression saliva. Suddenly I'm left  feeling small and inadequate {which is by no means the intent of that person or blogger at all}... but all the same, I begin assuming people's lives are as glamorous as their Instagram pictures, their homes as perfectly staged as their blog photos. I compare my so-called-life to their assumed life, believing mine clearly lacks.  

Which is a big. fat. lie! I love my life! 

I've become a social media robot in a fog of technology hang-ups.

And the sad reality is that social networking effects each of us ~ old and young!

This Yahoo article details interviews with teenagers and the effects of social networking:

"I feel sad, depressed, jealous, or whatever when I don't get a lot of "Likes" on my photo or when someone else gets way more Likes than me. Honestly, I'm not sure that parents realize how drastically it affects our self-image and confidence. If I see a picture of a really pretty girl, it's like 'Goodbye self-esteem.' It forces me to compete and do stuff that I don't want to do, so my confidence will get a boost."
--Samantha, 14 years old

"Social networking affects all the things you do in real life now. Like, if you go to a party, one of the most important aspects of going to the party is to document yourself for online posts. You have to prove you were looking good, you were having fun, and that you were actually there! It's not about the party anymore but about the pictures of the party."
--Caroline, 14 years old

"There is so much pressure to look happy all the time-you can never just be yourself-- because everybody is always taking pictures and posting them."
--Nikki, 13 years old

{To read the article, click here: 10 things you don't know about teens and social networking}

Sad, right? These are teenagers! Ironically, adults feel the same way!
I too realized my addiction. An addiction to false assumption about others' lives. So I began asking questions, peering past the visual lens and deeper to the heart story.

 How are you doing? What's going on in your life?

And I was shocked at my discovery.

Underneath the FB posts and blogs, Instagram pictures and tweets, underneath the best version, the ideal portrayal of life in those moment, life is still life.

FB updates don't detail a recent argument with your spouse. Your spouse thanks you for that!
Instagram pictures don't capture children melting down. Thank you! I see enough of that at my house!

Underneath, people are hurting. They are surviving the season they are in. They are lonely and crying out for community. They are tired and praying for parent wisdom. They are too busy and too worried.
I'm afraid we've gotten caught up in tagging the people we are with, instead of connecting with those in the same room.
And I am guilty!
Guilty of it all.

So I'm making some healthy changes, changes that will dissolve my social media junkie fix.. No, it won't happen overnight, I'll come down slowly from the high, probably experiencing occasional withdrawals, but this simple act will eliminate the assumption, comparison, and depression poison.

I'm starting each morning filling my thoughts with God's Truth. As cliche' as it sounds, before I reach for my phone, checking my inbox, or clicking on the FB app, I'm resting in who Jesus says I am, an assumption that can not be misunderstood, that brings hope of all hopes.

This is my all-time favorite daily devotional. Every dawn {and my husband would like me to specify never before 7:30am}, I wake in anticipation of how God will speak to me that morning. If I'm going to compare myself with anyone's life, I really can't go wrong with Jesus!

When we are together as a family, Bryan and I are putting our phones on the counter. If people really need us, they'll call. FB updates and tweets can wait. Our time together with our boys is what's happening in the now.

We are trying to avoid being on our phones altogether when with others. The goal is to convey that they are the priority, not the rest of the cyber-world. Again, baby steps...

Gone are the days of home land lines, long strings of rigatoni rope cords. Technology will continue to amaze and propel us into the future, and I embrace it fully. However, I'm challenging myself to avoid social networking assumptions, comparisons, and depression by not allowing social media to replace being social, to keeping alive the art of talking and asking, sharing and doing life with others.

Care to join me in this challenge?


  1. this post was like water for my parched soul! as a new stay at home mama with a newborn (who sleeps a lot) - i love getting inspiration from blogs& getting updated on fb&insta - but my soul is thirsting for something else. john and i have been having a lot of talks about this. what it will look like to turn off ESPN or me to stop pinning on Pinterest so many times a day. Not that we'll stop completely but we need to find a healthy balance. starting our days with Jesus! thanks for sharing your heart!

  2. Just yesterday, Nathan and I agreed not to instantly get on our phones when we are the passenger in the car on the way to our destination. When he drives, I usually begin engaging in a text conversation with a friend. When I am in the driver seat, he uses the time to play on Facebook or look for deals on Craigs List. But now, in our family, the "No Cell Phone" rule not only applies to the driver, but to the passenger as well. :)

  3. love this post, and the truth in all of it. i am so guilty of being addicted to my phone and feeling 'less-than' based on what the rest of the world is showing me. i want to live in the truth of my life and enjoy all that He has given me. love you friend.

  4. So glad to hear I'm not alone in my feelings about social networking. It is such a great tool when used in a healthy way. Here's to putting people first! Cheers :)