I can still remember when I signed up for my Facebook profile several years back. I was really excited about this new, virtual world. It seemed innocent, really. I mean, how much harm can come from scrolling timelines? But before I knew it, my heart was wrapped up in a world entirely removed from reality. I didn’t anticipate or notice myself getting caught up in all the digital hubbub and excitement. And only after a detox period did I realize just how damaging that virtual world can be to myself, my family, and especially my marriage.
By its nature, social media was designed to play to our vanity.
“Innocent” selfies Doctored snapshots of our lives and carefully curated content flood our newsfeeds. It’s virtually impossible to get away from the picture perfect moments of other people’s lives and our initial, human response is to compare ourselves to them. Am I that beautiful? Am I that successful? Am I more fit? Maybe if I lost a few pounds. Maybe if I wore more makeup or bought expensive clothes.
Culture has done an impeccable job tempering us to live by a sliding scale. But the problem with that is we can never be confident, content and satisfied with ourselves. We will always find someone smarter, more beautiful, more fit or successful and where does that leave us? Not in an emotionally healthy position, that’s for sure!
Despite the few benefits of social media, the convenience of comparing is a huge downfall. It’s especially damaging when we start comparing our marriages and our husbands to others’. It’s easy to see the perfect elements of other people’s lives and entirely overlook the messy bits. The Facebook version of other people’s home life may seem great, but there is always more underneath the surface that never gets shared.
Despite what we may be led to believe, social media runs on validation. When we are not content with ourselves, we can craft and share an alternate reality with others via our social timelines. We only post things that make us look gorgeous, as though our lives are great, and our marriages are wonderful. We don’t want other people to see our vulnerabilities and bad hair days. Instead, we want them to see us through the lenses we create.
One of the primary reasons I left most social channels was that I found myself feeling small based on other people’s carefully curated “fake lives.” (Sounds silly, doesn’t it?) Yes, what they post happened in real life, but the way they present themselves leaves out many of the details.
When we look to someone else to validate us, we are saying that our husbands’ opinions of us are not enough. Instead of finding contentment in the real elements of our lives, we turn to others for support through our virtual reality. Truth be told, we all need validation, but healthy validation doesn’t need crowdsourced. It’s found in Scripture and the confidence of our husbands.
Gossip & Rants
Research has proven that people say things online that they never would in person. And so often, I find people are much more public about their lives digitally than they would ever be in person. Transparency is good, but rarely is the kind of transparency seen on social media helpful, relevant, or necessary.
Unlike a private conversation, things said digitally never go away. Even things we think are spoken in private are not truly private. The physical disconnect of the online world provides us with the facade of safety, but whenever we post something it’s important to know that it will never go away. Even if we hit delete.
Words said in anger are permanently recorded. Gossip can easily be brought back to light. And when we allow frustrations, challenges, and struggles within our marriages make our timeline news, we are breaking the trust we have with our spouse. It may feel good to vent and let things out. You may think that your words are going nowhere, but people see them and they will be remembered.
Why You Should Detox
Social media, like money and so many other things in life, is not inherently bad. It’s how we choose to use it that we run into troubles. Even with the benefits that come from staying connected with friends and family far away, it’s important to recognize that there are serious drawbacks. It’s not that we should abandon the digital world and re-enter the nineteenth century, but we should be much more careful about what does and does not make our timelines.
My two-month fast from social media really opened my eyes. Before the fast, I couldn’t see the negative impact it was having on me. At the very minimum, detoxing from the social world opened my eyes to what is really important in my life. Despite how difficult it was to step away, my detox ultimately restored my perspective on life and self-worth.