My eyes are green, because I eat a lot of vegetables. It has absolutely nothing to do with your recent social media post. When social media and real life collide for better or for worse.Song Inspiration: Phone Down x Erykah Badu
Do you remember your first interaction with the internet/social media? Where my AOL people at?! MY AIM chat folks?? Dial up internet peeps?! The infamous Clippy, from Microsoft Word scholars?!?! Floppy disk homies?!! Y’all still with me? What about Myspace–y’all remember Myspace, right?? Of course y’all do! You had the opportunity to have your own customized background on your page, you were able to have a profile picture with a quote of your desire, you could limit your friends to top 5, 10 and even 25 (If you were in someone’s top five, you were exclusive, basically VIP) and most importantly my favorite part was that you could pick a song to feature on your page which was the introduction to people knowing the bomb taste you had in music. Nowadays, we just subtly restart a song when our friend hops in the car and hope they vibe with it just as much as we do.
Some fun facts about me (which I recognize might not sound like a huge deal if you’re not a millennial): I grew up without internet in my home, I didn’t get a cellphone until I was a junior in high school, I didn’t get a laptop until freshman year of college and I didn’t get a smart phone until my sophomore year of college. So as you can imagine, I was pretty behind in the technology realm! My first experiences with social media came via my friends and other family outside of my home. I remember my mom refusing to let me make a Myspace page because of my age and the hidden dangers of online predators. Of course I made one anyway (sorry mom!) It was a need to feel included on a bigger platform, a need to be in the know about things I wasn’t privy to.
Although we’ve come a long way from the Myspace days, we’ve advanced to the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so much more. I am a firm believer that we can, and do utilize all of these platforms for good. We are able to spread awareness on important issues and raise money. We find jobs and form networks. We are able to showcase and market our skills and talents. We connect with friends and family all across the globe. We use these platforms to celebrate, encourage and even grieve with one another. Social Media is one of the biggest spaces that connects all of us and can help us find common ground with those close to us and even complete strangers (like this blog!)
“We’re all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it”
However, I think many, if not all of us would agree that social media has taken or can take a negative toll on our lives. We live in a society of instant gratitude and approval. We can become more worried about how our lives look on social media than how we actually live them out daily. Honestly, it took me a while to come to terms with the negative ways that social media had impacted various areas in my life, and I’ve had to take my fair share of breaks from social media just to get my mind right.
Friends: How many of us have them?
I think it starts with the task of finding friends to follow on social media and then the anxiety that comes behind the thought of “what if they don’t follow me back?!” Followers or lack there of can mess with your ego. You may start to wonder if you’re liked enough or if you should be doing something to make yourself seem more likable. It’s also that fear of missing out. How many times have you gone out with your friends–even when you really didn’t want to, just because you didn’t want to wake up the next morning to scroll and see all the posts of your friends having fun and making memories without you? Bonus points if your friends left you out of the plans purposely and then you discovered via social media that they were all together without you.
On Instagram, straight flexin
In my dating relationships, I would harp on social media so heavy. How many of us have posted a picture of ourselves and really only wanted the validation or compliments from our significant other and they just neglected to acknowledge your fineness or the effort that you put into your entire ensemble?! The frustration is real! I used to be so pressed about what my significant other would like on social media. It became even worse when social media sites started dry snitching. I would be on social media, minding my business and then BOOM: So and so has liked such and such’s picture on *insert social media handle here* (Deep spiritual sigh). There is something about the male species and social media that I will never quite understand. I’ve heard a thousand times over from men of all walks of life say “men are visual creatures,” so when they like certain things or images on social media, it’s simply just that: a like. Plain and simple. It was visually pleasing, so I liked it (insert eye roll here.)
I used to feel so insecure about it though. My man was liking pictures of half naked women, or women who looked nothing like me in any sense and it made me feel like I wasn’t enough, or that even though my partner was with me physically, he desired to be elsewhere. I wasted so much time thinking about it that it created extra stress in my relationship. It was like walking on eggshells. Then one day it hit me: Would I feel any different about it if my man was liking pictures of women who were more like me? Women who had the similar drive, kind hearts were encouraging, approachable and fine too?! I think I would have had an even worse melt-down low-key! Previous London’s thought process is cringe-worthy. Thank God for a growth mindset!
And then there’s the controversy of posting your significant other on social media. Some people find it completely necessary, while others don’t. I used to be the kind of person who would like to be shown off. I wanted my partner to post me every now and again to acknowledge that we were together and to celebrate milestones such as birthdays, holidays and other exciting moments. I used to put so much pressure on my significant other to post us together because I believed that if people knew we were together, it would reduce the risk of infidelity or sneaky activity or that people would be able to see how happy we were together (LOL at how naive I was).
The harsh reality is that the only person you can control is yourself and even if your significant other could post you every single day, sing your praises and put you on a pedestal, they still have a choice in whether or not they will honor the commitment that they made to you. We’ve seen it happen one too many times. We all know people (or have even been those people) who are in full blown relationships but are also doing other things outside of the relationship that would be considered extremely shady. Relationships to me are about action. Whether I am posted or not, I need to be able to feel secure about where I stand in a relationship over anything. I could go on about this forever, but bottom line is that although I personally believe people in relationships should have some type of social media etiquette and it will look different in each relationship should they choose to have them. I also had to understand that there are just some things that aren’t worth fighting over and social media is one of them.
Keeping up with the Jones’s or the
Kardashians or Neither?
Social media has way of making us feel like we aren’t doing enough. Social media had me looking at my own life like I was doing something wrong. I put so much pressure on myself at a young age. When I first graduated from college, I was so excited to complete such a major milestone. Then I went on social media and saw that people who I graduated with were buying houses, friends my age were getting married and having kids and all of a sudden an accomplishment that I felt was so major, became so minuscule in my eyes. It became so bad, that I felt that I was no longer genuinely celebrating with my family and friends when they did something amazing, because I felt inadequate in comparison.
Have you ever felt some type of way about someone else’s successes in areas that you’ve struggled? Social media can make us feel some type of way about regular life things like fitness lifestyle and even career changes. How many times have you scrolled to see someone’s before and after picture of their weight loss journey while you’re demolishing a family size bag of Doritos and suddenly felt terrible? Or how many of us look at celebrity, or Twitter/IG/Youtube famous couples that we admire and think to ourselves, “Oh wow, so and so is extremely thoughtful! Meanwhile, here I am-I can’t even get a text back!”? I’m definitely guilty of that one more than I’d like to admit. What happens when you scroll and see that person who’s in the same field as you, or has the same skill set as you, thriving in the same way you’d like to be, but aren’t? Have I reached your “ism” yet?? My pastor always says, “if you can’t say Amen, just say ouch.” Ouch.
I used to ponder hard about the old phrase, “The grass is greener on the other side.” For many years I was looking toward other things or people to fill voids in my life that they could not fill. I made it the responsibility of others to boost my self-esteem, my confidence and my ego. Then with time, that little green monster of envy for what others had, quickly turned into self-loathing. So here’s the thing: As cliche as it sounds, the grass is only green where you decide to water it. I was neglecting to water my own grass and so yeah, I could see how someone else’s lawn could look way better than my own.
All those moments that I spent stressing about social media really boiled down to the fact that I was not humanizing the things that I was seeing. Behind every post was a deeper story. I had no idea what people had gone through to get to where they were at because people are more prone to post the good moments over the struggle moments. I was so absorbed with what I didn’t have or hadn’t achieved that I wasn’t taking the time to genuinely celebrate myself nor the people around me. Over the years, I have had to learn this lesson the hard way. I had to take many hiatuses from social media until I could get my mind right. When I made the decision to truly invest in nurturing and growing myself, for myself, my mindset started to change. I was able to truly celebrate milestones with my family and friends without feeling insufficient.
Have you ever gone through a certain struggle, and then are thankful that you went through it because you’re now able to help someone else with that same struggle? That’s how I feel about this topic. I am thankful to have gone through these experiences because now as I am teaching my students about making decisions for their futures, I am able to take a more personal and relatable approach. This is special to me because the students I work with now have been surrounded by technology their entire lives. They are so caught up in social media presence and appearance that it hinders how they see themselves and their abilities.
When working with my students, I use the example of the horse who wears blinders on both the left and the right side of their eyes. The trainer does that for the benefit of the horse so that it doesn’t get distracted by what’s going on around it while on it’s journey to a specific destination. Likewise, all of our journeys to get to a desired destination are individual and unique and inspiring. Our journeys may not look the same as our best friends or our close family, but that doesn’t make them any less significant. Some of our neighbors may actually have greener grass, or pretty flowers or even a few trees, but that’s because they took the time to water, nurture and focus on what was important to them in their lives. I encourage all of us to practice taking a break, putting our phones down and taking some time to water and nurture our internal grass as we travel to our specific destinations, making sure to and enjoy the pit stops, detours and stop lights along the way.
I would love to hear your thoughts on social media. How has it helped you? In what ways has it hindered your progress? How do you keep healthy balance between your life on social media and your real life?
Yours in Authenticity,