Facebook Does NOT Define You
Most of us probably do it…and knowingly or not, allow it to influence and impact our day…our view of ourselves as a mother….our belief in our children and their abilities…our self-worth…It has the power to draw us in time and time again (sometimes obsessively) throughout the day, and actually change our perceptions about life…This one seemingly small and insignificant action can transform our attitudes and thoughts…if we let it…(and I’ll venture to say that it has happened to most of us, even if we’ve never stopped to think about it.) Have you guessed yet? You probably are reading this post because of it….Yep, let’s chalk up one more accomplishment for young Mr. Zuckerberg…creating a social networking tool that has the capability to turn a mother against herself.
I’ll admit it…I’m a huge Facebook fan. Facebook is my preferred method of communication, and probably the fastest way to get a response from me, should you need something. As a mother of three with a business and a website to run, I’m all about efficiency and streamlining, even when it comes to communication with friends and acquaintances. I’m not a big fan of talking on the phone (especially when you can communicate a 20 minute call’s worth of info in something that takes 30 seconds to read), and like how easy it is to feel caught up with people simply by scanning their status updates. I love feeling close to family members that are spread across the country and the ability to keep up with friends from elementary school that I otherwise would have lost all contact with. Facebook is great…ingenious….with one exception…it has the power to destroy your confidence and tear away at your self-worth (if you let it!)
I’m going to step out on a limb here and say that I know I’m not the only one has stepped away from the computer at night feeling worse than I did before I sat down….I know I’m not the only one who has had their feelings hurt simply by reading status updates…I know I’m not the only mother who has come away from the computer suddenly questioning my abilities…
It’s easy to do. We read the highlights from our friends and acquaintances’ days and use them as a baseline from which to compare our own life. We allow these comparisons to make us feel inferior. Comparison is the root of ALL inferiority….and yet, night after night, we allow ourselves to question our abilities and worth based on snippets from other peoples lives. If you’re thinking, “What you talking ’bout Willis?” right about now, check and see if any of these thoughts have run through your mind while on facebook….
I can’t believe she made that four course meal for her family. That sounds amazing, and I can barely manage to scrape together a casserole. She must be a better mom than I am.
Sure, girls have a tendency to write about the fancy schmancy meals they make for their family on facebook…the roasted lamb shank with shaved fennel, garlic mashed potatoes, home-made baguettes and mixed arugula, blah blah…HOWEVER, what that same friend ISN’T writing, is when she makes frozen chicken nuggets and tater tots for her family…
KEY LESSON- People write about the HIGHLIGHTS, NOT the every day happenings (unless they are teenagers who update their status every five seconds)
Wow. Her kid is already walking? (potty trained, without a binky, saying the alphabet, doing fractions, blah blah) My kid can’t do that yet…I must be a bad mom.
First of all, recognize that sometimes people LIE. Sure, their kid might have gone on the potty one time, so they write about it…What they DON’T write about is the 47 accidents they’ve had since that event. Also, and more importantly, you can’t compare your child to another child…ever. Kids learn and develop differently, and in their own time. Similarly, we as mothers all have different abilities and giftings, and things we concentrate more on than others. You may spend a lot of time working with your child on sports. I may spend time working on reading. She may devote a lot of time to table manners, blah, blah. Our kids will reflect what we have spent time and energy teaching them, and what we must realize is just because our child may accomplish things on a different time-table and schedule than another child does not have anything to do with our self worth or ability as a parent. Kids are different. Parents are different. Households are different. Different is okay.
KEY LESSON- We can’t compare our children with other children, or allow ourselves to question our parenting abilities based on another child’s development. We are all better at different things and have unique giftings and abilities that make us special. Our kids are the same way. When you are plagued by one of these status updates (as I have been MANY a time), stop and reflect on what YOUR child can do and the things that make THEM special.
Wow. She is constantly taking her kids places (museums, zoos, activity zones, parks, etc.) We don’t go out as much. My kids must really be missing out. I must be a bad parent.
KEY LESSON- You can’t compare someone else’s life or parenting style to your own and think that one way is better than another. There isn’t one correct way to parent. We all do what works for us and our children. This one is hard, and is one I struggle with, so I understand the feelings of jealousy and envy that may occur (especially if finances prevent you from activities and outings), but what we again must recognize is that your children will not be made or broken by how many trips they take to Chuck E. Cheese. An extra trip to the park or another day of reading and board games at home does not a life’s outcome make. What matters most is the way we LOVE our children, and the lessons we teach them…no matter where we are. So what if your friend is constantly “checking in” at various places, and you are on the couch watching Finding Nemo…Bottom line, you are both spending time with your children in the way that works best for your family, and with your individual parenting style.
We can also let Facebook destroy us as individuals…as women…I notice when someone will tell another friend how much they miss them or love them, and wonder “Why don’t they say that to me?” I will see that a group of people has gotten together for a playdate or a girls night and wonder, “Why didn’t I get invited to that?” I’ll see someone talk about how they got family portraits done and wonder, “Why didn’t they book me to do that?” I’m constantly comparing myself to other women on facebook. She and her husband go out on elaborate dates, and we’re lucky to consider a work photo shoot a “date”. She has 20+ giveaways a month on her blog and I’m averaging around 2. She can’t stop talking about “great deals” she found at a clothing store from which I KNOW I couldn’t afford a pair of socks. On and on and on. It’s a vicious cycle of inner destruction.
What we may not realize is that somewhere out there, someone is envious of YOU. The grass is always greener ladies….What we aren’t realizing is that for the most part, these same women that we are so envious of…the same ones whose mere status updates are somehow managing to tear away at our self-worth are probably hurting…stressed out…tired…and feeling the same way you are. (For the most part) No one writes when they are truly hurting on facebook…We may share when there is a problem with our family…if a child is sick…if a spouse is having a rough time, etc…However, no one writes, “I feel like a terrible mother today.” or, “I yelled at my kids this afternoon for no good reason.” or, “My kids are lucky to get a frozen Eggo for dinner.” Whatever the case may be, we all have struggles as mothers…as women…We’re not the perfect pictures we may portray in our simple status updates. We’re real. The next time you find yourself scrolling through status updates and begin to compare yourself to so and so….STOP. Recognize that just as “Supermom” isn’t real…neither is “Super-wife” , “Super-woman,” or “Super-Friend.” Think about what makes YOU great…and realize that it’s okay to just be you…You don’t need to be her. Remember, imitation is suicide. Be happy with YOU. You are not defined by your status update, or the status of anyone else.
Accept everything about yourself–I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end–no apologies, no regrets.–Clark Moustakas
Be what you are. This is the first step towards becoming better than you are.–J. C. Hare & A. W. Hare
Don’t listen to those who say, “It’s not done that way.” Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will. Don’t listen to those who say, “You’re taking too big a chance.” Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly, don’t listen when the little voice of fear inside of you rears its ugly head and says, “They’re all smarter than you out there. They’re more talented, they’re taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…” I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you’ll be a person worthy of your own respect.–Neil Simon