You know those people who don’t use much social media? Maybe they have accounts they haven’t posted to in eight months, maybe they don’t have accounts at all. Do you ever wonder what in the world they are doing? I think I’ve figured it out.
First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m 25 years old and have had some pretty cool experiences so far in life. I have a darling husband and child, I live in a picturesque location near the mountains, travel frequently, am a decent photographer, and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of that translates pretty well over social media.
Naturally, I’m quite a happy and contented person. Sometimes, in fact, I can be too content. But all that changes when I open up Instagram.
Over the past few years, Instagram has been (what I thought was) a small sliver of my life. I mean, come on, I wasn’t on it for hours and hours a day, but yes, I did check it regularly. And yes, all those minutes added up to quite a bit of time. I scrolled through friends’ feeds, commenting “congrats!” on exciting news, and loved knowing all the little details my friends were sharing.
Of course, however, there is a downside to Instagram. I was comparing myself — my body, my financial situation, my clothing style, how many words my son could say compared to someone else’s, you know how it goes. Sometimes I was comparing myself to people I didn’t even know.
I would be full of joy, light and presence then I would sit down for a moment and open up Instagram to a world of posed pictures and filters and giveaways and sponsored stuff and fake laughing shots, and suddenly I let my joy slip away from me as I took myself out of my own life and looked in through the camera lens of another’s. Comparison truly is the thief of joy.
So one day I challenged myself to delete Instagram — and I did. And that struggle between deleting it and re-adding it to my phone has gone on literally for years. And I’ve finally found the root of the problem — I am afraid of disappearing.
I am afraid of being one of those people who doesn’t use social media and at first people wonder what in the world they’re doing and then they stop wondering because their mind is filled with all the other people on their feed and what they’re doing. In a way, they disappear.
I don’t want to disappear. I refuse to let myself disappear. Scroll, click, “congrats,” scroll, click, like. I love knowing what my friends are doing. I need to know what my friends are doing. I want to feel a part of it all. Scroll, click, like.
But it finally hit me. I don’t want to disappear from my own life. I want to be fully present through the ups and the downs. I want the Lord to know “that I was really here and that I really lived” (Marjorie Hinckley).
Do you dare to guess how many minutes a day the average person spends on social media? 100 minutes a day. 1 hour and 40 minutes. We spend around 1,000 minutes awake each day. If that pattern continues until we are 90 years old (I don’t know if our generation will ever truly outgrow social media), then between the ages of 12 and 90, we will have spent nearly 3,000 waking days, or more than 8 years straight on social media.
Does fear of overuse mean we should immediately delete all our social media accounts and never post again? Of course not! We’re advised to live “in the world, but not of the world” and in my opinion, that means we should take advantage of many of the incredible benefits technology offers.
The secret is to be the master, not the slave. We should never feel like we are using social media at our own expense. My one suggestion to help figure out what kind of role social media is currently playing in your life is to take a little break from it for a day, a week, a month — however long you need. Just try a little social media cleanse and see if anything changes you. Sometimes we don’t know the effect of something, good or bad, until it disappears.
As for me, It’s a new year and I’m ready to start living and making up for lost time.