Last year around the holidays, while my husband and I both sat scrolling through social media on our cellphones and our three kids were watching television, I started to notice a bad path our family was on.
I was technically WITH my family, but not actually present. Instead I was distracted by the picture-perfect lives of my acquaintances and friends on Facebook and Instagram.
Whether it was the stunning new kitchen renovation my sorority sister just completed or the Aspen ski trip my former colleague took her family on or my high school friend’s front row seats to Beyonce, it was easy to just keep scrolling and scrolling. I thought it was just a way to stay in touch about what’s happening in other’s lives.
Yet I didn’t realize the amount of jealousy and envy these social media posts were creating in me. Instead of joy for the great things happening in all these people’s social media lives, it made me more aware there are no kitchen renovations, ski trips or fancy concerts in my future.
I could feel myself wanting for these things that literally hadn’t even been on my radar before seeing them on social media. I realized how addictive these sites can become as they allow people to portray perfection.
I am not completely innocent either. I wasn’t posting pictures where I didn’t think I looked good or my children weren’t their most adorable selves. I was putting forward our own picture perfect reality as well.
But this strange, jealousy-inducing nature of social media was making me feel bad about the life I was living. Why couldn’t we be taking our kids on a Hawaiian vacation or buying the brand new high-end house?
These sudden jealous emotions created some alarm in myself and I realized I had to take a step back. I decided I needed a social media detox.
Instead of observing the lives of others, I pledged to be present in my own life and the real people in it.
Instead of wanting things I didn’t even need, I choose to be grateful for what I actually had.
The houses, vacations and stuff is just that. Stuff. And who knows if that stuff even makes people really happy when they are posting it on social media for all to see. Maybe it’s a bad cycle of envy and jealousy that goes around and around with everyone trying to prove themselves to others.
So I put down my phone and re-engaged with my family.
The holidays were the perfect time to do it, especially with my kids being on breaks from school and around more.
Instead of scrolling through Facebook at night, we started playing family games of Clue and Guess Who. We put on music to have dance parties in the kitchen. We made popcorn from scratch and watched our favorite holiday movie under a blanket together.
Along the way, I realized not only was I better off without social media, but so was my family. I was more present and engaged and they were as well. Instead of wasting time watching others’ lives, we were creating new memories in our own.
Everyone always says kids age in the blink of an eye, and that’s totally true. And it’s even more true when your eyes are glued to social media and not witnessing what’s happening right in front of you.
I can’t act like I never went back to social media because I did. But taking a break from it not only benefited myself, but my family as well. It was so much more fulfilling to be present in my life, instead of a viewer of someone else’s.
So I suggest you commit to a social media detox this holiday season! Put down the devices. Pick up your kids instead! Remind yourself what you are really grateful for and be present in the life you live.
There is enough competition in life about who has what and who goes where. It’s even worse around the holidays when you add in the toys and fancy gifts being displayed on social media.
Do yourself a break and stop scrolling. You won’t regret it and neither will your family.