I am tired of the rat race. Unfortunately modern life allows for little down time and if we do take a break, we feel like we are getting behind. Where are we running to anyway? Social media only increases the pace and makes it feel like we are always missing out on something, somewhere.
Everybody has been to or is going to Paris, London, Cancun or Maui and have posted photos about every step of their glorious vacation. Their grand kids are the cutest, their beaus handsomest, their marriage the longest lasting, their children are merit scholars and championship athletes. Gosh, even their pets win prizes.
Oh yes, everyone on Facebook also possesses the culinary expertise of five star chefs. They post pictures of the gourmet meals they whipped up while speed reading novels and writing bestselling books. And they lose weight to boot. All while garnering the highest awards in their field and looking dazzling. Even on holiday, they keep winning. They always caught the biggest fish in the Atlantic, hit the greatest jackpot at Vegas, or captured the most gorgeous sunset in the world. They swim with dolphins in the Bahamas, ride the waves on Bondi Beach and sip champagne on the Champs Elysées.
The biggest problem with social media is that it makes me feel like my life sucks.
If I were to post the truth on social media, this is what it would look like
S.O.S. All alert bulletin! HELP lost my glasses again. And I can’t see to find them.
Yikes, while checking out at the grocery store, I couldn’t remember my credit card code for the life of me, so I walked out empty handed and we went hungry for the night.
I wore my shirt inside out to work; no one told me until 9th period.
I’d tweet stuff like, uh oh, stepped in dog doo on my way to school.
Major meltdown. Locked out of house. Lost keys.
19:00 hours. S*** burnt the steaks AGAIN.
I want to slow down, sip a glass of wine and enjoy the view of the Alps from my backyard, but no, no, no… my phone is beeping, a message dinged, no time to be idle. I have to Tweet, blog, check my stats, recommend a book on Goodreads, update on FB, edit my profile, contact my Google+ circles, post on in interest, text message my friend, answer 91 emails for work, and check in with 10,987 virtual friends.
As I try to measure up, against the ever-changing, impossible standards of super woman in cyber-world, I have to stop to remind myself that I am NOT what I do,
I am. Full stop.
Instead of going on-line, this week I am going retro. I will meet a friend for coffee, go for a walk with ze Frenchman and read an old-fashioned paper book.
I will turn off the electronics, tune out social media and tune into my own reality show.
Life. Be. In. It.
What do you think? Is social media taking its toll on your well-being?
Oh my gosh, Pat. You are singing my song and I couldn’t have said it better.This time you had me laughing out loud , not crying!! I call it “digital-detox” and it is essential every once in a while. Enjoy your walk, the quiet and that good old-fashioned paperback book. And bravo for doing what you need to do to refresh yourself. It’s crazy “out there”. 🙂 PS, the good part of social media is being able to stay in touch like this “across the pond.”
Digital detox indeed. I usually know when it is time to turn off the computer cause my back aches and my wrists start throbbing. As you know, nothing is more revitalizing for the mind and body than a brisk walk in nature. But it is oh, so true, that social media connects people whose paths may never have crossed. I consider you one of the finest blessing social media has ever offered.
Yes, yes, and yes. I have chosen to stay off Facebook for days at a time. I might check in for five minutes, but then convince myself of the time I am wasting and make sure I focus on more productive things. I agree with you – if you believe Facebook EVERYONE’s life is better than yours. It’s not a reality…so for the benefit of my own mental health (and the need to feel productive!) I try to limit the amount of time I spend on social media. That said, I’m glad I read your post!
Thanks, Pam. I am wondering at what point one becomes addicted. Even though I try to tune out and focus on more productive things, as a writer, I feel a certain amount of pressure to keep blogging, posting, tweeting, and promoting. The promoting part seems the most unnatural. It makes me feel like I am 10-years-old again, trying to sell potato chips door to door. I have to stop and remind myself, what is more important right this minute — connecting via social media or having a conversation with the man who shares my roof?
Yes, of course you are right, Pat! And I have taken “retro” days – they are lovely!! But then I start missing my buddies. Here’s a shocking thought, one which seems unbelievable to me: you and I have never met in person! It seems shocking because I feel we have been friends forever. I read your book and have come to know your family. Also, with Kathy Pooler, whose comment is just before mine. We met in person ONE TIME, at a writing conference in 2009. This month, in fact. Five years later, our only contact has been electronically or by phone. Yet I feel as if I grew up with Kathy, as if we are childhood friends.
My point is, there’s a sweet spot somewhere between “have to” and “want to” on SM. I have yet to find it, so I feel your pain. Maybe one day we’ll figure it out.
Oh Lynne, thank you for lovely reminder of what is good about social media. You and Kathy are definitely the sweet spot! And it is so true even though I have never met either of you and our backgrounds are different, I feel like we have been friends forever.Cyber soul sisters rock! Each time I hit a rough patch in my own life, I read your blog and feel validated. Like everything else using social media is about finding the right balance. I have not found it yet, but I will let you know if I ever do.
We had dinner with your folks on Thursday evening, and of course had a wonderful time!
We agree with your thoughts on social media. Going retro is such a good idea! Will put it on the calendar, so we do it on a regular basis.
Yes, there is no better place to go retro than up in the north woods. A positive of social media is staying connected across the miles. Every time I hear from you Jeannette, I feel like I am right back Up North enjoying the beauty of God’s country and the slower pace.
Ah yes, I agree… I remember those sweet La Chat days when I was head of department and sent paper memos to all and sundry in the 1990s. I used to use sticky back plastic to make pretty posters for the PE notice boards and l came to the office in the evenings sometimes to learn how to use the new dinosaur computer that Tristan had bought for the department. I sent my Masters thesis back for editing via fax to the UK and used up all the university office paper – they were annoyed! Haha, how times have changed. There are, of course, pros and cons to it all… I could not work from home as much as I do, or manage my young family, house, life without the option of email at home… nor could I FaceTime or Skype loved ones whilst living so far away from them here down under. However, what I find more stressful than anything about our digital world is the impact on my teenagers who are growing up with it. They seem to be so hooked ‘just gotta check…’ every minute of their free time that I insist on family days and hours in the evening to switch off, to much grumbling and dismay. So, I watch my own usage and theirs, which can be exhausting but is much needed. We cannot fight this technological revolution, but we can sure as hell do what you do and shut it out to live in the present from time to time and nurture our real selves 🙂 miss you Pat, and thank goodness for our cyberspace connections across the years 😉 xx
I think all teachers can see the pros and cons of social media. It sure has changed even in the relatively short time since you left Switzerland. I, too, would be lost without email, Skype and all the other ways social media allows us to stay connected with friends and loved ones around the globe. I totally agree with your statement, “what I find more stressful than anything about our digital world is the impact on teenagers who are growing up with it.” You are wise to try to curtail its use in your own home. The impact on teens is scary. I am going to ban cell phones from basketball practice. Every time I give a water break, athletes pick up their phones on the way to the drinking fountain to see if a message came in. This is an issue that deserves a separate blog post…thanks for the idea. Hey, if you ever want to guest post from Down Under just let me know. Would love to host you!
Hi again Pat, sure would love to guest post – December/January would fit round me as that is our slow time here… summer hols! 🙂 Any idea what you might like me to write about or is it free choice? Send me some more details re. word length etc via e-mail. I think banning your mobiles from team practices is a good idea, with the rationale being that team interactions take place on and off the court – mobiles are an isolating device that do not promote such interpersonal communication (quote Jefferson-Buchanan, 2014, page of life). Hugs from your fellow wordsmith, Rach xx
I spend so much time on social media for work that there are days it’s a huge relief to just check out. If I had a view like yours I’d never get any work done!
And thank goodness you do spend so much time on social media, Sharon. One of the greatest positives that I neglected to mention in my rant, is that social media permits us to connect across continents and meet up with awesome people we might never have crossed paths with otherwise. Midlife Boulevard would never exist without your and Anne’s tireless efforts to support and promote the women of midlife. Merci mille fois!
Pat, this post really resonates with me. I, too, periodically need to unplug and experience LIFE as it was before all the craziness!
You know, that “my life is better than your life” stuff is one reason I don’t do Facebook. My son Domer assures me that Facebook is “on its way out” anyway, as many of his friends only stay on there to connect with their friends who refuse to Tweet or Reddit or whatever the kids are doing these days.
Still, this social network has some big advantages. As writers, we need connections and look how many we make through the Internet! We come into contact with people we’d never otherwise meet, we find we have lots of things in common with them. We begin to see them not as avatars but as real people. We worry when they’re worried, we celebrate when bounty falls into their laps. We borrow cool ideas from them, find encouragement from their comments, and maybe — just maybe — impress an agent when we’re able to juggle all of it!
Enjoy your break, my friend. With scenery like that and a family who needs you, who can fault you for wanting to pause and absorb?!
Okay, Debbie, I’ll be honest… my break didn’t even last 24 hours. ha It is raining and foggy today and I can’t see a thing beyond the hedge, so I am back at it. Like Domer my son, too, dropped FB. Whether we like it or not, as writers we are obliged to use social media, but as you mentioned the good part about it is that it allows us to connect with others that share our interests. Glad that Kathy introduced us electronically!ha ha
I couldn’t agree more. Help! My head is swimming with way too much stimulation.