Facebook right now is a beautiful, heartening, optimistic stream of photos of children moving on through milestones. Graduations, moving up celebrations, or simply the joy of surviving another year of school and excitement over having 2 months to sleep, sit around, splash around, and forget everything they learned for tests.
But for many people, each of these posts is a reminder that falls into one or several of these categories: 1) “life goes on for others, even when our own life has unraveled;” 2) “I will never see my child graduate/go to Prom;” 3) “summer is hard for me because it brings memories of how much our family enjoyed summer before our devastating loss;” 4) “I am a completely inadequate mom because the thought of having my kids home all day, without structure, makes me panic;” 5) I wish I could afford to give my family a better summer… Etc.
Social media is wonderful because of the connections it fosters. We are able to stay in touch with people easily, we become closer to people we may never even have met, we have access to as much information as we have time to read and watch, and we can make a difference by sharing enriching links and original content. But it also has its downside, since depending on where we are in our life, and how we are feeling about our life and ourselves, a glance at our Facebook feed can send us reeling.
Because I have been on both sides of the coin, posting happy updates and at other times, reacting with resentment and envy when my friends posted photos of themselves having fun with their moms, who unlike mine, are alive and well, I try to always be intentional in my posting. I have created the following list, through which I filter my own postings and thought may be helpful to you, whether you are posting updates or warily going through your media feed.
Before posting, ask yourself the following questions:
1. “Is this boastful?” If the intention is to show friends and family who are out of town, how much the kids have grown or how happy they look, or something like “hey, our life is CRAZY with Sam’s football schedule and I’m proving it by posting pictures of him at practice every day, which explains why I never call you” – then that is perhaps different from regularly telling everyone how amazingly accomplished your kids are. You can share all the stuff that doesn’t pass your Nonboastful Filter with a more select list of Facebook friends by creating lists (adding people to Family, Close Friends, or create a new list).
2. “Am I complaining? And is my pity party in order to elicit attention, or do I really think people may be able to help me?” Life is filled with situations we find frustrating, fearful, annoying. But do we need to share them with the world? I am not saying we need to paint a superficial, glossy picture of our lives (I definitely do NOT support that – that’s another blog entry though). I choose not to post stuff like how annoying my kids can be, or when they aren’t feeling well, or when I have a Really Shitty Mom Day – because I know that if I do that, I am a) being insensitive to people who don’t have the privilege of having annoying or sniffly kids and b) increasing the negative energy because now people will feel bad for me. I rather people feel good. If I need help, I will text or call friends. If whatever the challenge was is worth posting about because of the lessons learned, or the gratitude it grew, then I will post AFTER the problem is resolved. #dramafree
3. Every time I post something that shows me or my family or friends in a positive light – we have achieved a milestone or won an award, or we look beautiful, or we are traveling somewhere really cool, or we are in some way doing something that others may not have the privilege to do because they can’t afford it, or they lack the health, or their life situation for whatever reason isn’t conducive to their being able to do this themselves – when I write it and I hit the Post button, I say a prayer for others that goes like this: “Please understand that my intention for posting this is that I am so very grateful to be in this place at this very moment, especially as I know that it is a privilege and that nothing is permanent. As I post this, I send out love and hugs to my friends who are not in this place with me.”
I don’t think it’s necessary to edit everything we post and share. It’s not about changing who we are or suppressing our joy over the many triumphs and delights in our lives. Also, we cannot control others’ reactions nor can we possibly know or keep track of everyone’s triggers. I think the key is to be mindful of the fact that everything we do, say, and yes, post, has an impact on those around us. So let us be intentional. And compassionate. Compassionately intentional.
Motivational coach, athlete, mom, entrepreneur. I love helping people mindfully reboot their health & joy.