I read an article today about how terrible social media is, with the author actually calling it “emotional porn.” Whoa. Whoa there.
You can read his full article here if you’d like, but for now, here’s a little snippet where he explains what that term means:
It’s following 100 mommy bloggers, while being secretly jealous and envious that your life is not theirs.
It’s following every work-out-enthusiast, and secretly hating them for caring so well for their bodies.
It’s following your frenemies and saying you don’t care what they are doing, yet all the while you know every thing about every single aspect of their lives.
It’s filling your feed, and in turn your mind, with jealousy, comparison, and often pointless imagery, all while your real relationships fall apart.
It’s watching Keeping up with the Kardashians and almost every other “reality” show, while not actually keeping up with anything else in your life.
It’s watching the Bachelor.
Okay, so I get what the guy was trying to point out: we are addicted to spending way too much time online, comparing ourselves to others while not being grateful for what we have and letting that control us. But I felt this “emotional porn” statement was a bit harsh to use as broadly as he did. (And hey! What’s wrong with my love for the silly Bachelor series??) Sure, I’ve known some people who thrive off of how many “likes” their picture gets or how many re-tweets their status receives. I could classify those people as having this “emotional porn” problem, maybe. If it was any of my business.
But what about the other people who, like me, enjoy our time on social media without it being their form of porn? I wouldn’t say my use of it is necessarily bad because I’d classify myself as the “Lonely Mom”—the stay at home momma who hardly ever sees adults and whose whole world seems to revolve around the word potty. I know I can’t be the only one who disagrees with the idea that social media is inherently bad for us!
I propose that when used in moderation, social media can, in fact, be a good thing. Especially for stay at home mothers.
That’s the key: moderation. Moderate online socializing is our chance to escape the chores, the screaming kids, the personal problems, if just for a moment. We can use social media to get informed on worldly issues, instead of being doomed to only learn the lyrics of every children’s show, ever. And sure, you can still use snail mail to make these connections but in today’s world, we get to go beyond that! With social media like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, we can easily share pictures, videos and moments with those we love who would otherwise miss out on the important things. We get to be on the receiving end of that when we use a device we pretty much always have on us to scroll through a feed of instant and (usually) important updates. Technology is an amazing thing and when used correctly, it advances our relationships and keeps us in the know.
Another benefit I’ve used social media for is finding exciting activities I can do with my toddler. When you stay home with the kids every day and are forced to keep a pretty constant routine (or else risk unleashing the fury of The Kraken…I mean, children), it can become difficult to imagine new activities to entertain and teach. But thanks to scrolling through Pinterest while sitting on the toilet—my only chance to do this without feeling like I’m neglecting the kids—I have found some pretty awesome games and crafts! Things that much more creative mothers have shared so I could have the chance to feel like I’m expanding my toddler’s horizons. Since I never seem to get a chance to see other mommy friends in person, social media is my only way of getting ideas from them and how I can share my own.
And what if I were to tell you that social media played a part in my recovery from Postpartum Depression? The author of the previously mentioned article would have you believe that social media only makes you more depressed since it displays so frequently what you don’t have and what you can’t do. But thanks to the connections I was able to find through Facebook and mommy blogs, I discovered resources to help me come to terms with my depression and pull myself out of it. I found ways to accept what I do have and what I can do. Sure, I could have sat there on my phone all day nursing hurt feelings for what my friends had and I didn’t. But I’m mature enough to know that doing so would only lead me down a spiraling road. I wanted help; not to sit in self-pity. Because I used my self-control to use social media responsibly, I didn’t worry about it taking importance over my children and I was able to use it effectively to save my sanity.
So you see? It’s only “emotional porn” if you let it get that way. I do agree with a lot of what that author was saying in his post, but I feel that social media potentially being an “emotional porn” is the exception, not the norm. When used for how it was intended, social media can be your ticket to sustaining relationships, discovering new information, and escaping the doldrums and loneliness that can sometimes creep into your motherhood. So quit beating yourself up for spending time on Facebook. Quit listening to the self-righteous people who try to guilt you into thinking spending time on social media makes you a bad mother. Go ahead and use LinkedIn to make and maintain your professional connections. Go ahead and send that silly picture through Snapchat to the best friend you haven’t seen in months. Go ahead and spend an hour scrolling on Instagram after the kids go to bed. If all of that is what you need to unwind from a long day, I’m not judging you. I’m joining you.