Social Media Is Not Always To Blame

posted by Andrea | 10/31/2013

social media apps

I will be the first to admit that I probably spend too much time on the internet — partially because it’s how I make an income — but even still, I know there are better ways I could spend my time.

However, I will also readily admit that I love the internet — and (drum roll please) I think social media is really, really cool.

While I’m thankful Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media venues didn’t get wildly popular until after I finished high school and college; I’m thrilled to be able to use these tools on a daily and weekly basis to communicate with friends and family all across the country, connect with blogging friends and blog readers, and glean all sorts of fabulous ideas, inspiration, tips, and advice.

All with just a few clicks of my track pad (a.k.a. mouse).

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that many social media sites are catching a bad rap for being a huge “time suck”, causing unrealistic expectations, and making us moms feel bad about the state of our homes, the types of recipes we make, the parties we throw for our kiddos, etc. etc.

Yes, it’s easy to get sucked in by the sheer amount of information available via social media. And yes, it can be overwhelming to see all the perfectly decorated homes, amazingly delicious foods, and way over-the-top kids parties…

But I’d argue that social media is not always to blame.

We have a choice to participate in various social media platforms and WE are the only ones responsible for letting ourselves feel like failures because we don’t make gourmet foods, have designer homes, or go all out for every child’s birthday party EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.

By the way — I hope you all know that I definitely do NOT think we need to eat gourmet foods, have designer homes, or throw out-of-this-world birthday parties for our kids :)

Yes, part of it is marketing, part of it is people excitedly sharing their daily life, and part of it is probably people just trying to brag or show off. But the other part is US — you and me. We’re the ones who log on day after day after day. We’re the ones who let social media suck us in, we’re the ones who allow our time to be wasted, and we’re the ones who let thoughts of failure creep into our brains.

There’s a quote I’ve seen floating around the internet (and social media) lately that I think sums up this “issue” really well…

“We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes lives with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

It’s true… isn’t it?

I’d be lying if I said I never felt jealous or envious of something I saw on social media — especially when moms say things like “I’m so glad we got _____ to sleep through the night by 12 weeks. Those sleep training books really work!” 

Shut up… I haven’t slept through the night in TWO YEARS! That’s what I want to say, but of course I don’t.

For all I know, that person could have a really stressful job, have a marriage that’s crumbling, be in financial ruins, or struggle with an addiction — and this is their one super proud “highlight moment”. I don’t need to ruin that for them, and I certainly don’t need to feel like a failure because I can’t figure out how to get my two year old to sleep!

I suppose it’s just human nature to automatically see/read what others are doing, buying, etc. and want the same thing.

However…

I feel that the benefits of social media FAR outweigh any negative aspects.

Here are just a FEW examples of how I’ve benefited from social media over the years.

1. Creative ideas and inspiration:

Even if I don’t take it to the extreme level of some of the ideas I see on Pinterest or Facebook, I’ve gleaned many crafty and home decor ideas from Pinterest — like how to make the quilt for Nora’s nurseryhow to decorate the wall above my couch, and some of the ideas for Nora’s 1st birthday party last year.

nora's baby quilt

2. Recipes:

I love cooking without recipes, but when I need a specific idea — maybe for a holiday party, cooking for someone with allergies, or it’s just time to try a new recipe, Facebook and Pinterest are my go-to places.

When I type in “Christmas Cookies” into my Pinterest Search bar, it generates hundreds of photos with links back to the recipes in about 2 seconds. Even though I’d most likely never make cookies as fancy as the ones you see below (from my Pinterest search) it sure is simple and convenient to have so many ideas instantly at my fingertips.

christmas cookies

3. Recommendations and advice:

Ok, so some of the advice I get via my Facebook page and Twitter in particular is unsolicited; but for the most part, if I need a product review from a trusted source, a restaurant recommendation, advice about the best baby/kid products, or even just a little encouragement, Facebook and Twitter are where I go.

I can post a question or concern on my wall (or in any number of my more private Facebook groups) and I get anywhere from a few to a few hundred responses… from people I actually trust and believe — not just some marketing professional telling me what I should do.

I’ve also been able to score amazing deals (and even get many freebie items) from people who are looking to purge an item I’m asking questions about. They simply send me a direct message and we line up a sale — similar to Craigslist.

.

4. Staying connected with family and friends:

Neither Dave or I are naturally great at staying connected with family and friends. It’s not that we don’t care, we just don’t enjoy talking on the phone, sending more emails than necessary, or writing letters. We send out a holiday card every year and we sent out baby announcements when Nora was born — but that’s about it.

However, thanks to Facebook in particular, we are able to stay connected with family and friends all across the world — on a daily basis! We’re also able to share our news (like moving or a new baby) with all our friends and family just by posting a new status update or photo.

Yes, I realize that social media has sort of turned communication into a less personal affair, but if it wasn’t for Facebook, Dave and I would have little to no contact with anyone but our immediate families, church friends, and colleagues at Dave’s school. So I’m definitely an advocate for communicating via the internet versus not communicating at all!

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5. Meeting new friends:

I’ve met so many new people — via Twitter and some of my Facebook groups — some of whom have become great internet/blogging pals, and others who have become real-life friends that I now see and communicate with on a regular basis.

It might sounds sad, but I even met a handful of neighbors because of Facebook! We didn’t realize that we only lived a few streets down from each other — and one person just lived about 5 houses down :)

Small world!

social media icons

photo source

I know of many people who have personally chosen to close down their Facebook accounts and delete their Pinterest boards because they say that social media is causing them to be discontent with their own lives.

I get that and totally respect their decisions. However, as I mentioned above, I really don’t think that social media is always to blame for all of that. We are still adults and we should be able to control the amount of time, energy, and resources we allow ourselves to use up on social media.

If we can do that, then I think there are so many awesome and wonderful things about social media that I would never, ever want to give it up.

Yes, it can be a time-suck — IF we let it.

Yes, it can be a bit (or a lot) unrealistic at times — IF we can’t see past that.

Yes, some people take it WAY too far and share WAY too much information — but that doesn’t mean WE have to.

If you ask me (and many of you have), I definitely think my life has been improved thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

But that’s just me…

What are your thoughts on social media?

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23 comments

  1. Stel

    10/31/2013

    I am on your (social) page :-)

    I’ve been getting so much flack from a family member about “living my life in cyber space”, yet I have met so many new friends through my crochet and reading groups on Facebook – who are now real-life real-time friends. If anything, it has broadened my world. And I’m not sitting up at night until 02h00.

    [Reply]

    Stel Reply:

    And I only use Instagram to edit photos, everything is set to Closed/Private and I don’t follow anything, FB just as closed up. Pinterest is a great tool to gather ideas and distribute to my crochet group.

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  2. Jane

    10/31/2013

    I like it! I use it for business and personal reasons. I have made twitter friends far and wide. I have cried my eyes out to friends via emails – some of whom I’ve never met in person but were kind enough to help me through difficult times. I enjoy seeing photos of family and friends on Facebook. I am probably not as disciplined as you are, Andrea, in how I manage my time on it – and that is something I hope to improve. And, although not a social network, thank goodness for Google because I can look up all kinds of useless information that my over 50 brain can’t remember!

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  3. Plateful of Publix

    10/31/2013

    I think it’s all about balance. When you’re unbalanced it’s not the “things” in your life, but rather how you allow those “things” to take over. We must all take responsibility for our own actions.

    We’re all given the same 24 hours everyday, so it’s up to us to spend them wisely. I’ve learned this the hard way many times over. Hope everyone has a great day!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Amen — as with most things in life, balance is key!

    And I love that you mentioned the fact that we all have 24 hours a day. Sometimes I get frustrated with others who say they wish they could “do everything I do” in a day. The truth is, the most likely CAN… but I know for a fact some of the time-management choices they make aren’t helping their cause. I’m not going to say anything though :)

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  4. Jennifer

    10/31/2013

    I really agree with you on this. I say this as someone who actually doesn’t like social media that much (and am not on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram), precisely for all the negatives that people mention. HOWEVER, I think social media can sometimes take the blame for things that are really human problems.

    I think there are pitfalls to social media, but usually these are the aspects of it which enable behaviours that we perform ourselves, in other words the problems that are really our problems to begin with. Things like comparing ourselves to others, bragging, wasting time, allowing ourselves to be overloaded with too many ideas or decisions, etc. Social media does make all these things possible to indulge in a specific way, but the root of the problem is usually in the person. I’ve wasted many hours trawling the internet, but that’s only because I myself was already looking for an excuse not to do something else!

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  5. alana taylor

    10/31/2013

    Honestly, I am so bad about keeping up with social media. I have a personal Facebook account that I hardly ever use. I also have a Facebook and Twitter account for my blog, but I have yet to figure out the perfect “balance” to using it. It’s not that I use them too much… I actually don’t use them enough. The two platforms I use the most are Instagram and Pinterest. And, yes, both have a tendency to make me feel discontent from time to time, but as you you’ve said here, that’s on me. I’m responsible for how I allow all the pictures and projects to impact me.

    Thank you for sharing your wise words.

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  6. Mandi

    10/31/2013

    I’ve been wanting to write this exact post for months, but words were failing me. I think you nailed it. If you’re insecure and being on Pinterest/Facebook/whatever makes you feel bad, you need to be adult enough to get off! But don’t blame the platform for your own issues.

    (And that’s why I’m sharing your post instead of writing my own — you said that so much more nicely!)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Mandi! Jackson must be allowing you a little free time if you found the time to read AND comment :)

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  7. Caitlin

    10/31/2013

    I agree with you to a point, but I believe that people who choose to completely remove themselves from social media are being responsible stewards of their time and energy. Just because someone chooses for themselves to stay off of Facebook or Pinterest because it is negative in their lives does not mean that they necessarily think they are inherently bad.

    In regards to food and dieting, I have read that some people do well with moderation, and some need to give up something completely. It just has to do with the different ways that brain’s are wired. Some people need to give up sugar or Coke or whatever completely to avoid overindulging and some can partake in moderation. And it doesn’t really have to do with a lack of willpower.

    I would imagine that Social Media could be similar. Some people are fine with moderation, and others need a complete break. Whether it is because of the “time suck” or insecurities or whatever, some people need to cut themselves off. I support those decisions, and I can see that for others, like me, it can work in moderation.

    As I said, I mostly agree with your post, but I wanted to point out what I think is an important distinction. Some people do need to cut off, but not everyone. And I think figuring out which you are (moderation vs. all or nothing) can be really valuable. That would be an interesting post…

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes totally, I’m most definitely an “everything in moderation” type of person and have always had really strong self-control my entire life — but I know VERY well that not everyone has that (and it’s not because they don’t want it).

    I agree that for some people, it’s better just to cut the temptation out of their life!

    [Reply]

  8. Living So Abundantly

    10/31/2013

    Love the quote, ““We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes lives with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Yes! When I used to blog, I would post things and even be impressed with myself–ha! I know what my entire life is like, not anyone else but my close friends and family. I love your attitude about encouraging others when they have something positive to post. Debbie Downers are never fun to be around, so it’s refreshing when others can be happy with you. ‘Cause it’s fun for them when you’re happy for them, too. ;)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I can’t stand it when someone leave a mean, rude, (or even just a passive-aggressive ) comment on something I’m excited or happy about… so I basically just decided that unless I’m going to say something really positive or encouraging, I won’t say anything at all. I don’t want to be the Debbie Downer for my friends on Facebook :)

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  9. Kelly

    10/31/2013

    I love social media for the current events/news aspect of it. We don’t watch much tv and I’m in a government building all day so radio stations don’t come in very well. I have all the news (local and national) sited “liked” on my fb page. If anything goes on, I’ll know about it right away.via my fb without have to check a bunch of news sites or turn on the tv/radio.

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  10. Erica

    10/31/2013

    I agree that social media sites can be a time sucker, but at the same time they are also a great way to get new ideas and connect with people – that’s why it’s important to manage the time you spend on social media sites, just like you manage the time you spend doing everything else. That’s where sites like RescueTime (I thinkit’s called RescueTime) can come in handy – they can show you how much time you’re spending on social networking sites vs. on other things you need to be doing.

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  11. Vicki

    10/31/2013

    Thoughtful article, touchy subject. I have dear friends across the country that I feel connected with – through Facebook. I was recently with a relative who raged against Facebook . . . but she is not on it and does not participate. Her only daughter lives 7 hours away, her only grandson is with said daughter (and is on Facebook). All I could think about while she was raging is – “I feel bad for you, because you are missing SO much.” The tiny videos and pictures that my 12 hour away kids post on Facebook keep me in touch with my darling grandkids.

    It is all about how you use it . . . I would like to think I use it well. :)

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  12. Christine P

    10/31/2013

    I unapologetically love social media.

    I am in touch with everybody in one place, people will are spread far and wide. It would be impossible to keep current otherwise. There are people I see more because it’s easy to be in touch. I get glimpses into everyone’s life and I’m happy.

    I love the people I interact with. There are very few downers. The few there are are easy to navigate.

    [Reply]

  13. Chrissy

    10/31/2013

    Hi Andrea

    I completely agree. I have so many friends or family members who don’t like social media because they are either concerned about privacy issues or they are concerned about it being a time suck. It ultimately comes down to YOu and how you control your time. For personally, being a Jamaican, living in Oregon and having family on the East Coast, Canada and Jamaica – social media has been a blessing to me. My family LOVES whenI post pictures or updates about myself or the kids. Thanks to Facebook I was able to reconnect with a cousin I was very close with when I was younger and was able to attend his wedding this past month – I hadn’t seen him for over 15 years. Ive also connected with people in my community and even sold some things thanks to a few Facebook groups Im in ! And as I grow my business I know that is can be extremely useful in the future. So yes it can be a “time suck” but YOU have control over that. Thank you for writing this !

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  14. Lee Cockrum

    10/31/2013

    I love social media, sometimes too much!! I never feel inadequate from Pinterest, I totally use it to keep track of tutorials, recipes, crafty things, vacation ideas etc. I don’t “expect” to do them all, but I LOVE being able to go back and reference them all in one place.

    Sometimes blogs or Facebook get me down, but there are other things in life that do as well. I always planned to have children, and was never able to. There are things that bring it more to my mind, or things that I always dreamed of doing with my own kids and seeing those things makes me sad. But that would happen without social media too. And the internet has given me access to supports that I would not have had otherwise.

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  15. Kelly @ old blue silo

    10/31/2013

    GREAT post, Andrea!! Such a controversial topic these days.

    I absolutely love social media. I’ve been on the internet since I was in 7th grade. You know, the era of chat rooms, MSN messenger, AOL messenger, etc.

    I have a great group of friends off the computer and a lots of friends behind the computer screen. I don’t like to say “real life” because social media is real life… you’re just using a computer rather than a telephone or meeting face to face. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    I am a farmer and a farm wife and yes, there are other farm wives in my area and yes I have been able to become friends and connect with them but it’s also a lot of fun for me to connect with other farm wives across the country. I also enjoy connecting with gals like you who I can look up to and and also learn a thing or two.

    I can remember the day I came across your blog so clearly.. I was doing a google image search for pole barn house and you had a barn house posted on your farmhouselove.com page and ever since I have been a follower! I’ve watched you move from your old house into your dream house, grow your brand professional and become a mother. Yes I love to read novels, watch movies and do all the things people did before the internet came along but I’d almost rather sit down and read a blog about a real life person more than anything during my down time.

    If anything social media has been a time saver. I don’t spend hours on the phone or meeting up with friends for dinner every night because I can chat inbetween dishes and loads of laundry on Facebook. I can go on and on and on about how social media has influenced my life but you already did it perfectly. People need to promote what they love instead of bashing what they hate. This world would be a much better place!:)

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  16. Amanda

    10/31/2013

    I’m so so so thankful for facebook and social media.

    My family is spread out all over the country. Much of my family didn’t meet my now 22mo old son until this summer at a family wedding. Yet my aunt has told me on multiple occasions that she felt like she knew my son from the photos and videos and other things I’ve written about him. One of my best girlfriends moved to the west coast. She and her family come home twice a year to see their parents, but I feel the same way about her daughter – I love seeing her grow and learn new things, and getting to “see” her more than every 6mo. It also allows me to stay in easier contact with my friend (although we do talk regularly through google talk).

    My own mother in law (who lives ~2mi from us) actually joined facebook after my husband’s grandmother was talking to her on the phone and mentioned photos that she had seen of our son and my sister in law’s kids that my MIL hadn’t seen. She realized that even though we live close, I don’t want to text a million pics – so it’s just easier if I put them in one place, and she, along with the rest of our family and friends can see them. She doesn’t go on every day and has a small group of friends (primarily family and a few church people), but she can stay up on all the “latest news”

    I agree that it’s about life balance. You need to make choices about how involved you want to be in social media and about how much time you need to spend. But I think it is a very valuable tool. I can’t tell you how many recipes now make it into our regular meal plans because of pinterest. My go to zucchini bread recipe, and several cookie recipes are also pinterest finds (and people RAVE about them). For me, I find it a way to relax at the end of the day and just let my mind unwind a bit. It’s part of my evening “me time”.

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  17. Jennifer Gregory

    11/01/2013

    Andrea, I LOVE this post. I agree that social media can be a sucker but I think the positive is so much better. I have had so much fun gleaning new recipes, ideas, etc.

    Your blog is one of the places I go daily and it enriches my day. It’s balancing our time and energy for what our priorities are. My priorities include growing and learning and social media is a part of that!

    Have a great day!

    [Reply]

  18. Olga

    11/03/2013

    I just loved reading this post. You are such a insightful writer, Andrea. I have to strongly agree with your observations. I think there are many things that we blame for our own faults.
    Social media is such a great tool, but we have to be smart in the decisions that we make and in the way that we manage our time. Thank you so much for writing this.

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