Whenever I meet someone who doesn’t use social media, I always ask, but why?
How do you keep in touch with people? They respond by explaining important people call or visit in person. Or they say that social media is a distraction they don’t need. I argue that my family lives far away; this is the only way they can see my son. The other person nods, the conversation ends, and then I begin to think.
The truth is, that’s not the only reason I use social media. Like many others, I use social media to read the news, keep tabs on people, distract and evaluate myself.
Shocked? You shouldn’t be. If you are reading this, you are a social media user and surely have found yourself staring at a screen and thinking, thank heavens that’s not me; or, what’s worse, if only that could be me.
When I see images of giant Easter baskets and children’s shiny eyes in April, meticulous yards during summer barbecues, homemade Halloween costumes in October, and matching pajamas on Christmas morning, I can’t help but feel myself pale in comparison. These are things I haven’t ever given my son. Some I can’t give, and others I choose not to. I feel equally guilty about both.
So how do I combat the bitter aftertaste of using social media as a mom?
1. I remember that the internet allows us to indulge in a special kind of voyeurism, one carefully proofread by the poster.
Just like I crop a photo to avoid showing my arm fat before I upload, the posts I read are equally edited. We usually leave out the parts we aren’t proud of. On the rare occasion where someone exposes a #momfail or #badmom post, those are usually the funny or slightly embarrassing things that happen to us, not our actual insecurities.
2. I lean on my mom friends.
These are the people I can have offline conversations with about the worries that keep me up at night and fact-check what I see online. I try to weigh these interactions heavily in comparison to their virtual version.
3. When I find myself feeling especially self-conscious, I take a step back from the internet.
I seek out the supportive places (this blog being one) and ignore those that don’t make me feel good (bye, bye Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest). When I feel better, like I’m swimming instead of drowning in motherhood, I come back.
So, if you’re truly feeling like a #badmom, reach out to your mom friends. And, consider taking a break from the online places that weigh you down.