This is the last post in a series of three posts on this subject. It would be beneficial to read part 1 and part 2 before or after reading this post :)
Trevor and I differ on our level of social interaction. I have a stronger need for it than he does, and it’s OK :)Being different in this way set a good example to me, that I’m grateful for. Trevor’s helped me realize that we don’t need to be involved in everyone’s life, just the people who are truly important to us and who we see a lot. It makes sense, but the problem I have is that I tend to care a lot for nearly everyone I meet, haha. For most of those people, I can only care from a distance, so that brings in the social media problem!
Having these differences, created a rift sometimes between us when I seemed to care more about something that I saw or read on social media, and it didn’t seem to faze him as much. Sometimes those things do matter, but most of the time the things we post, tweet, or comment aren’t too important, right? Like with that black and blue vs. white and gold dress that everyone was debating over! hahaha
I was letting little things become big things in my life and it was negatively affecting me and my husband. One specific thing that happened was when I read a blog post that I completely disagreed with, and was offended by. The author took something I believed in and made fun of it in a casual and naive way, and I really did not want her misrepresenting something I was passionate about. I remember spending a few hours thinking about it, and writing up a response I would say to this girl. I remember telling Trevor about it that morning and why I was so annoyed. While he agreed with my opposing views, I think he thought I was making too big of a deal about it. He kind of just said, “OK honey, well I gotta go to work. I love you. Have a better day.”
After about twenty more minutes of me venting to my keyboard, I thought about what my actions were actually going to do, and realized I would only end up looking like a negative-Nelly who was on a sudden mission to bash this girl. My one comment to her was not going to be worth the emotional capacity I was using up. After letting go of my upset feelings, I felt bad for being consumed in my frustration that I missed out on getting ready for the day with my husband: brushing our teeth together, having breakfast together, or packing him a lunch for work. It’s something we do almost every day, but something that can make a difference. I’m now working on recognizing when this is happening, so I can make sure it doesn’t hurt my marriage.
Trying too hard
Another way that social media can affect our marriages, is in trying too hard. You know what I’m talking about: trying to create the perfect date night with our spouse so that everyone can see how awesome we are when we post it to instagram… Yes, I am admitting that there were times I got caught up in how we looked in our pictures, or trying to give off this beautiful perfect atmosphere of some sort in the background. This mindset can take us away from the potentially beautiful, not forced, moments we can have with our spouses.
Caring what other people think of our date nights is dumb isn’t it? It seems like we are trying to one-up each other! I feel embarrassed to have been under that way of thinking, but I now feel free and happy knowing that there’s no contest among marriages. We don’t need to one-up each other because we are all on the same journey, and we experience most of the same things! We all have the fun date nights, the cute romantic moments, as well as the struggles and the arguments.
In the previous posts, I talked about how we can compare our entire life to one picture that may or may not be a real portrayal of someone’s life. We can totally apply that same idea to our marriages: When we look at another couple’s one or two pictures of marriage and compare that to our marriage as a whole, we don’t give ourselves an accurate comparison. These comparisons lead to discouragement in our marriages which can truly bring us down, and make us feel ungrateful for the relationship we have. There are ways to share our cute marriage moments that can be positive and inspiring, rather than discouraging for other couples. I discuss this a little more in the post, “You are perfect for me.”
Over the past few months, I have made a few changes in my life so that social media affects me less negatively. Some of these I’m still working on :)
- I talked to Trevor about what I was feeling, and often. He helped bring me back to reality a few times: telling me that what I was doing was good enough, helping me realize what truly mattered, and in giving me love and support on how to avoid letting social media getting me down.
- I talked to my friends about it, to see if they had similar stresses from social media that I was feeling. I guess I wanted to know if anyone else was struggling with their self-esteem over it.
- I remember deleting my iPhone’s Facebook app for a little while to help me avoid what seemed to be a boredom “reflex” of looking through my news feed.
- Trevor told me about how I could put a daily timer on my computer for how long I could spend on certain sites. It was funny because if I went over my time limit, or wanted to try turning off the blocker/timer, I had to re-type a given paragraph about wasting time and such, hahaha. Basically it sent me on a guilt-trip.
- I tried to think about things I was grateful for more often. It gave me a more positive focus on the outlook of my life.
- When I became envious of someone else I would pray that my bad feelings would subside. I ended up thinking about it less and by the next day I forgot about it.
- I thought about how I contribute to social media, and made the decision to focus on sharing the positive, rather than the things that made me frustrated or things I definitely had a strong opinion about.
- I took a break from blogging. Sorry for that, but I think it helped!
- I stopped posting every cute picture Trevor and I took on instagram or facebook, because it’s not necessary. You guys know what we look like, haha.
The biggest change I made listed above was avoiding sharing the negative, but rather focusing on sharing the positive. Knowing that something negative I said could put people in a negative mindset, made me realize how important it is to share goodness and love! We all have posted what I call, “clever complaints.” You know, those posts that are well-thought out reactions to something bad that just happened to you, haha. There were some good ones I could’ve said, but I refrained and let it go, because even funny complaints can put a thought of negativity in our thoughts.
Status update: (pun intended)
Right now I feel a good balance with my involvement in social media. I’m still working on how often I share things and how often I look, but I feel it affecting me less. I know that sharing uplifting thoughts has me feeling happier about my contributions to social media. I also don’t care as much about what people think, and have fewer times where I feel “internet envy” because I’ve pretty much stopped comparing my life to others. It’s a freeing feeling to have, and I hope to continue on it. :)
I want to reiterate something I mentioned in my last posts: If social media is getting you down figure out why. I think there’s typically an underlying issue of why certain pictures or blogs make us feel a certain way. So in understanding why you got bothered, it can help you avoid that person, or avoid reading material on that subject. I know I felt down on myself when I saw posts by moms who seemed to be handling much more than I was which made me feel inadequate as a wife. I worked through these feelings of inadequacies and discovered I was bothered because I was already feeling frustrated with myself for not being able to juggle all that was on my plate at the time.
I worked through these inadequacies by confiding in my husband, and by lightening my load and re-prioritizing. I decided that I would take less credits each semester, and extend my graduation date by a semester. It was a tough decision but I don’t regret it because I have more time to dedicate to my marriage and the rest of life’s responsibilities. Now, when someone posts about how easily they seem to be juggling the demands of life, I can simply be happy for them and say: “Well that’s awesome that she can do all that! I’m so proud of her!”
My outlook on life also turned more positive from doing a few other things. Like finally decorating our house, because it made me feel more comfortable and settled in. I’ve also made a few more friends here! All of these changes have helped me feel better about myself, my life and my marriage. We can have a protection against the harms that the world can bring when we are feeling better in these main areas.
I want to summarize what I’ve said among all three posts. We can blame others for sometimes not being “real,” but we can’t blame them for how it affects us. We choose how it will affect us for the good or bad. And if we want to see changes, we need to start by looking at how we individually contribute to social media. Think about what you post, tweet, or comment and ask how it might affect those who follow you. Mark Zuckerberg said:
“Back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.”
We are lucky enough to live in time to experience this. However, so many people utilize this opportunity to spread contention. I don’t want to be one of those people! I want to uplift and inspire, and I hope reading this post and this blog has done that for you. :) Even if you aren’t one who is bothered by social media, if you choose to spread kindness, love, joy and inspiration, you can be happier, like I am :)