FILTERS

4.07.2015

Catch me on a morning where I've rolled out of bed tired and grumpy, or in a moment when I've just snapped at my husband or my baby won't stop crying - and checking Instagram for a second and seeing a simple photo of someone's smiling baby in a high chair can so easily spiral into: That's such a nice kitchen. I don't even have a kitchen. I bet her baby doesn't cry and her pants fit her really well and she can eat lots of bagels and never gain weight and she and her husband never fight and I bet she heals dying houseplants with only essential oils and the love in her perfect heart. 

Welcome to my sinful-jealous-comparison-driven heart!

The problem isn't ever Instagram -- it's me. What I consume on social media ends up being a mirror of what's going on in my heart. When I'm in the thick of something, it's easy for me to become nearsighted. I forget it's just a glimpse and I see it as the whole picture. Instagram (or any social media, really) can be a quick fix -- a burst of affirmation through likes and comments. It can easily turn into a haven and a place to escape to when I'm not careful. A place where everything is beautiful and for a moment I either forget the mess is there, or all I can see is the mess around me.

It was a long winter. I struggled with depression and a bad attitude on a lot of days. What's funny is that I don't think if you followed me on Instagram you'd have known any of that. I shared photos of my baby and the occasional witty caption. Those moments were real, joyful ones -- they just weren't the entire story.  I have no problem being honest about what's going on, I just know that everything doesn't need to be shared on the internet at all times.

This photo has no relevance whatsoever.
But don't you want to watch Wild Hearts
Can't Be Broken
now?
I share photos because I enjoy capturing a moment, because I enjoy editing it and making the photo beautiful. It's fun. I want to share it because it's hard not to share the things that bring me great joy. I like the conversations it brings about. So, it's funny to me that I so easily forget that others are likely doing the same thing. Their motive in what they're sharing and why they're sharing it is actually none of my concern. How I respond and how I consume is in my control -- and I want to do that well and in a loving way.

I don't do it perfectly, and I never will. I'm still working through it and what it looks like in my life. I know the constant discussion about social media and its place in our life can feel like a tired and redundant subject, but I still think it's important, because it seems that collectively there's a whole lot of time being spent there.

When I see a beautiful photo, I want to leave thoughtful comments, and be loving and encouraging whenever possible. I don't want to be a ME MONSTER. I don't want to live in my phone. I want it to be something I own and not something that owns me (which, in all honesty I'm really bad at sometimes). I don't want it to take the place of what's going on around me. If it makes my head and my heart noisy, I know it's time to take a break. If I can't think kind things and think the best of others as I do it, I need to step away for a little bit. I don't want to be a slave to it, I just want it to stay a simple thing.

I'd be totally remiss if I didn't also address the fact that there's a whole lot of good that comes from Instagram. I've witnessed and experienced so much great community where I've seen adoptions funded, artists supported, and small businesses flourish. I've made great friends, and I've been able to see tiny glimpses into the lives of my friends and loved ones that I wouldn't have otherwise. I love that I can share in a moment of their day with them and know how they're doing. I love experiencing different perspectives. So, in reading this I don't want it to sound like "INTERNETS IS EVIL." Hello, it's kind of how I met my husband, after all.

While this all seems like a psychotic jumble of internet babble, I just really wanted to hear some perspective on it so I thought I'd throw it out there.

What parameters do you have for your phone and for social media? How do you protect your time for being present with the ones you love and for productivity? Do you put down the phone after a certain time of day -- do you go social media free during the weekend? WHAT'S YOUR FILTER?

Please, chime in! I'd love to hear any wisdom on the topic and maybe even get a good discussion going.


19 comments:

  1. I have never responded to anything on here before, but I read your blog, and like all your adorable photos, but this blog hit me. I do the same. I often look at the glimpses of others lives and think "wow. That would be nice." I often look at your photos, and read your blog posts and think "I really wish we had become better friends. And we're moms now. That's cool!" Haha. But anyway, my husband is sometimes more guilty than I am with the social media obsession. But I try and make sure that time we are spending with Toby and dinner time, that we, in the room, are the only attention grabbers. We love to share pictures of Toby. He is, of course, the thing we are most proud of. The thing we find so much joy and love in. Why wouldnt you want to share it? But then your phone buzzes and dings with "likes" and comments, and it starts to run the rest of your day. I guess we dont really have a TIME we put them down, but we try to wait for Toby to be asleep, be that nap time or bed. I think Kyle and I remind each other sometimes too with a "hey. What did I just say?" And that's pretty much the universal sign of....,put that phone away. This is OUR time.

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  2. I just finished with a little social media fast for Lent and it became so apparent to me that I am far too invested in it. I base way too much of my identity in the amount of likes I get and who, specifically, likes my pictures. It's not good. I'm hopeful that as I transition out of that fast, I'm able to maintain healthy boundaries with it and not become enveloped by it again.

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  3. Hi! I found you through IG through some mutual "friends" and now here I am posting on your blog. Hopefully it's encouraging because in reality I'm in such a similar spot as you! In January the Lord led me to fast and pray over the frustrating heart I saw in our oldest son. So I chose Wednesday's and decided to fast from "screen time". Holy moly! Immediately the Lord revealed fruit in my son's heart but also in mine. I wasn't as distracted. I was a better listener, more creative and so much more present!! Hallelujah! And crazy enough, the interwebs didn't even miss me. I've continued to take this break and I miss lots that happen online now BUT I am present for so much more that happens in our home and in my reality. And days when I get sucked back in, I see and feel it happening. I feel the disconnect and I see the root of grumpy and irritable grow. And I can choose better (if I want to). I still have a long way to go. But this small weekly fast has been a great reminder and continues to be something I find refreshment in each week.

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  4. It is tempting to just gush poetic about WHCBB and how Sonora is my fav, but I realize that wasn't actually the point of this post. Love you and your thoughts on this. I personally try to curb the urge to gram-binge by limiting myself to a certain number each week. It helps me avoid situations where I want to do things just to share them.

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  5. Hey!
    I just wanted you to know that this was super timely for me to read today. I have two girls, 27 and 14 months, and I resonate so much with the comparison game and the "noisy head" problems. I even read a similar thing earlier today about the phone controlling us. It makes me sad to think that I would lose out with my girls because my insta-game is so possessive. I think the Lord used you today, so thanks for speaking.

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  6. This is such a good article! I feel like this sometimes and that is a really good gauge of when you need a little social media break!

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  7. I try so hard to put my phone down at the end of the night and just enjoy the time with my husband and son. Especially those days when the jealousy monster gets the best of me too. Why isn't my house that clean? Why is my son throwing a tantrum? Why don't my pictures turn out that well? Ugh. It's exhausting.
    xo, Sarah
    http://www.sarahhartley.net

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  8. To be honest I don't have ANY social media boundaries... but have been thinking about this a lot lately and feel like I should. For me, it can definitely breed jealously and comparison issues sometimes, but I feel like my biggest problem is that I use it as an escape. When I'm bored or sad, I watch other people's lives to escape from my own life that I'm dissatisfied with, so that I don't have to deal with my feelings and struggles. It's totally unhealthy and something I need to work on. But how?? That is the big question. Time boundaries might be good for me. Thank you for this post - it's helped me realize that I need to actually do something about the fact that social media owns me.

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  9. I don't set aside time for anything - not organized enough. However, lately I have tried really hard to put the camera down while doing fun stuff. I realized I was missing the whole experience while trying to catch that one great shot that would help me remember said experience for forever. It's a little less stressful for me to forget I have my phone/ camera and I end up having way more fun. As for social media as a whole, I like being able to stay in touch with people who would have been lost in the shuffle many years ago. On the other hand, I, sometimes, feel REALLY lonely. I kind of miss the days where people would actually call you and there would be whole conversations... Not to mention I am incredibly awkward around people when I see them or we meet up now... It's like I have forgotten how to converse. Please tell me I'm not the only one.

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  10. I struggle with this SO much, Fran. I have an externally pretty life with a nice apartment and pretty things, which is nice, so I share that - but I struggle with body image and also "keeping up." How are all the other 25-year-olds on Instagram thin and pregnant at the same time?! I'm single, no prospects, and a little plump at the moment... and comparing doesn't help. And living alone makes me feel like I have an excuse to always be online, even though it really requires more intentionality than ever about taking time away from it all. It's hard. I'm just here to commiserate.

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  11. I have very little to add to your thoughts beyond agreement on all points. I have a little girl named Felicity, and sometimes wonder if it's right for me to want to post the best pictures of her smiling, or looking especially chubby and delicious, or if I should post some photos with food all over her face. But honestly, there are people who intentionally post unflattering photos of their kids for a laugh, and I almost see that as being unfair to the kid, who has no control. So there are two sides to that coin. I love your IG feed!

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  12. Hey Fran! Thanks for sharing! I think that it's a good point when you say that the problem is never with Instagram--it's always with me/us. Maybe it's an example of a good thing (when used appropriately) that's turned by by the sin in our hearts. In the last month, I've really had to attack the addiction. I've given my fiancé my FB password (and try to get on only a few times a week, instead of dozens of times a day).... AND I deleted my IG account (originally, I was going to permanently delete my FB, too, but he convinced me to keep it since the beginnings of our relationship are recorded on there...and to be honest, having quick access to friends (as is needed when wedding planning), is convenient). I've gotta admit that I HAVE since made a new IG account, but now I only have like 7 followers instead of a hundred something. That helps with the whole "post for a heart notification, so I feel better about myself problem". Now, I post more because it's like my photo journal and I want my close friends to know what's up.

    I've known it for a long time, but social media has turned into a beast and addiction for me. The monster of comparison (me to other women, my fiancé to other men, our engagement or wedding to those of others) eats me alive and leaves me feeling discontent and me/pleasure-focused. I hate what it's done to me--or what I've allowed it to do to me. And for the health of our future marriage, and my own identity I've realized something needed to happen. While I haven't cut cold turkey, I've definitely seen myself make a move that I wouldn't have been willing to take a year or two ago. And even though it's painful to see the sin that has been festering in my heart, God is using this withdrawal time to really draw me closer to Himself...because, goodness, I'm a mess without Him.

    Thanks for bringing the discussion up!

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  13. It's always tough to find the line between social media making us happy and helping us connect to others, and it making us miserable and disconnected. I won't pretend to have the answers, but will say that it's helped to pay close attention to the times when I get frustrated more easily my husband and son. Usually when I get short with either, I either need a snack (not even joking, hanger is a real thing), or I need to step away from the IG/blogs/facebook. There's so much that's good about the internet today-- reading blogs from women dealing with similar situations and difficulties can really make motherhood much less lonely, but at the end of the day we have to guard against the constant feeling of not measuring up. Go with your gut: there usually isn't a hard and steady rule that protects us from falling into the comparison trap, but if you pay close attention to how your inner voice changes when you've OD'd on social media, you can step away and recalibrate.

    Thank you for sharing this. :)

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  14. First: I love your name. I know that is unrelated, but still.

    Second: I totally agree with all your thoughts (including the hanger - very real). I've definitely noticed that to be true with my experience. When I'm not listening well, when I'm irritable, when I'm ignoring what's around me -- no bueno. Time to step back. The positives you mentioned are also true - the community aspect is great when things are good. I think being intentional about stepping back and taking breaks would make the time we spend more engaging and productive in how we build community online.



    Thanks for commenting, it was refreshing to hear a new perspective! :)

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  15. Ahhh, thanks for your thoughtful comment, Amy! And your honesty -- I totally get it. I deleted my Facebook and don't miss it beyond the fact that I miss event invitations and engagement/pregnancy announcements sometimes ;)

    I have no idea if you've read this, but I liked this blog post on the topic:
    http://theinfluencenetwork.com/2014/08/you-dont-have-to-quit-the-internet/

    (Particularly talking about "the funnel")


    I think when we spend some time away from it all, it clears our minds and the Lord helps us discern what is good and what isn't. And I really agree, sometimes it's good to just abstain from all of it for a while if it means having freedom and learning to keep it in its proper place. It's so awesome how much you are valuing your relationship with your fiance and trying to create a healthy place for it within marriage when the time comes. I see how important constant communication about it is, because it can be such a temptation to turn to this little world inside of our phones instead of turning to the Lord and our spouses. I'm excited for you!!

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  16. I LOVE THE NAME FELICITY IT IS ON MY GIRL NAME LIST!
    Sorry I internet shouted, I just wanted you to know I think it's so beautiful.

    I say go chubby and delicious :) I imagine people sharing photos of their babies similarly to how people (used to) pull out their wallet and proudly show pictures of their loved ones. And I agree - definitely want to be loving in how you portray them, too. Though now I am second guessing posting her fat face picture...ahahahah ;)

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  17. I wish I could give you a hug. You just summed up my 25th year. Comparing will never help, and it's so easy and such a SNOWBALL OF DEATH. I get it :( I know from stalking you on IG that you are completely lovely, though (creepy much...) and I promise it's just a season. I've been trying (requires a lot of practice, and discipline...of which I am no master) to just put the phone down as soon as I start to notice that I'm playing the comparison game. Read a book, smooch a baby, get out of the house, etc. You are a gem, girl.

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  18. Oh my gosh SO NOT THE ONLY ONE.


    That's so funny you said that, I noticed recently how obsessive I am about capturing moments that I am actually missing the moment as it happens. Memory keeping is important, but being present is so special and I've gotten kind of rusty at it. I was also one of the last of my friends to even text people - it was always an annoyance to everyone, but it forced me to call people and vice versa. Now it seems like everything is a text. WE MUST REVOLT AND BRING BACK THE PHONE CALLS!


    I've definitely felt awkward - have you ever said something in person and then wondered if you'd already said it online? Just me? OOPS?


    I agree - I keep up with some of my closest friends from elementary school and it is so sweet to be able to see what their life turned out to be now, knowing what we used to dream about doing one day.

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  19. Just wanted to thank you for this kind kind words, Fran. :)

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