It’s astounding when you stop to consider the revolution that social media has spawned.

We organize our lives differently now compared to a mere five years ago. Our sources of information have profoundly changed. How we relate to peers, loved ones and strangers is unique as compared to any other time in human history.

And, it’s all happened in less than a decade.

I could go on and on about the changes that companies like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have wrought, but there’s one I want to focus on today.

Through social media, we have many, many more opportunities to be annoyed, irritated and otherwise negatively impacted by what other people say.

I have more than 750 “friends” on Facebook. A mere six years ago, I probably had a max of forty people in my regular orbit. And when it comes to rants, pet peeves, philosophies on politics, religion, raising children, etc.? I maybe had conversations of that nature with three to five people, tops.

Now, sometimes a mere ten minutes after I hop out of bed, I am bombarded with news, religious exhortations, other people’s irritations, logs of people’s workouts, party pics, date night check-ins, and more, more, more.

Again, when you consider how drastically our lives have changed in the past decade, it’s almost too staggering to comprehend fully. We are the frogs in the boiling water, who haven’t really recognized that the temperature just kept creeping up, and up and up.

I try to resist the pull of social media. I unfollow people whose posts regularly irritate me. (I don’t unfriend, I just block their status updates.) And, I am careful now not to get sucked in to conversations or debates where I don’t think people are capable of being level-headed and reasonable. Which is all to say that I try to be mindful about how I use social media.

But I’ve noticed that there are certain categories of posts that kind of stab. They cause a dull ache in my belly, or tears, or a purely emotional response that I doubt I would have if I were to pause and think through the actual post.

I call them “triggers,” and I recognize fully and completely that my emotional reaction to these triggers says nothing about the actual post or the person who has posted it but it speaks VOLUMES about me and my state of mind.Trigger

Here’s the big one for me right now: Photos, check-ins or posts about trips people are taking with their spouses or significant others.

THEY SLAY ME.

Why? Because it’s not something that’s a remote possibility for us right now. Since we had kids seven years ago, we have had exactly three child-free nights together. I mean, D even did an up-and-back trip to join me for my grandfather’s funeral in Texas.

We don’t have the cash to spend on a fun trip, but more crucially, we don’t have any viable childcare options.

This isn’t a whine or a rant. It’s not an “oh, woe-is-me.” We’re doing the best we can and we’ve made conscious decisions that have led us here. We also have been handed some life circumstances that we have accepted. (Some gracefully, and others through more of a struggle.)

But even though I am at an intellectual peace with our reality, it’s still emotionally hard. It’s hard to see friends who are able to get away all the time post yet another picture from the beach. But I want to stress – my emotional reaction is not about them. I am happy for them. I love, love, love seeing the pictures and living vicariously through their travels.

It just gets to me, because it’s a reminder of something that I desperately want – the chance to just be an adult with my spouse for a bit – but can’t have right now.

So here’s what I want you to do for me. The next time you scroll through your Facebook feed, I want you to monitor your emotions. What are the posts that, while intellectually they don’t upset you at all (i.e,, they’re not some political rant that espouses a view opposite of yours) they get to you on some visceral, gut level? What provokes your raw emotion? And, once you have identified the type or category of post that gnaws at you, see if you can figure out what it is about those posts that trigger you.

I want to be clear – I am not looking for suggestions on ways to take time away with my husband. And, I don’t need any well-meaning comments about how important it is to my marriage that we have time for ourselves. That’s not what this post is about, really. Because it could be any class of post – other people’s elaborate meals, photos of new babies, check-ins at a park with kids while you are at work, or posts from cities your friends frequent for work while you sit at home with a toddler all day.

In other words, it’s not so much about the actual trigger. Instead, it’s more about recognizing THAT you are being triggered by something. And, once you guys have started thinking about this, it’s an idea I’m going to build on in the coming days.

So, whether you post here, on Facebook, shoot me a message, discuss it on our secret-but-not-so-secret wellness board, or just keep it to yourself, I want you to think about your social media triggers – what they are, how they affect you physically and emotionally, and why it is they get to you. And then you can join me on some self-exploration.

(This post can be found at Nourishing Joy’s blog carnival, Thank Goodness It’s Monday #74.)

9 Responses to “What’s Your Social Media “Trigger”?”

  1. on 05 Jun 2014 at 8:23 amlacisox

    amen, kristine….i hope this ever-so poignant blog has an impact on someone.
    social media is important in our lives, but the INTIMACY that folks want to
    share without thinking first is down right scary!

    keep up the great work..and hopes of a vacation! xo

  2. on 05 Jun 2014 at 9:27 amKristine Rudolph

    Thanks, love! XXOO

  3. on 05 Jun 2014 at 2:58 pmKatherine

    I’ll monitor my reactions to things to see if I have others, but here is the one I know is a trigger for me based on my infertility struggles and how hard we tried to give Anna a sibling:

    I know people with young children are harried and have bad days and FB is a place to vent, but when people jokingly say, “Does anyone want another child? So-and-so is driving me crazy… yours for the taking!” it makes my heart hurt.

    Oh — I’m automatically clicking “I don’t want to see this” on any posts that ridicule other people, especially innocent people in photos. Here are two recent examples: the view of the back of a heavyset woman in tight black leggings with some sort of negative comment about her appearance; and a photo of teenagers in body-baring outfits with a comment about how we should teach our daughters to cover themselves. The former’s message is cruel, which is why I click “I don’t want to see this,” and while I agree with the latter’s message, the fact that a photo of someone’s scantily clad daughters is now circulating around FB makes me nauseous.

  4. on 05 Jun 2014 at 3:55 pmKristine Rudolph

    That first category you describe is actually one where if it’s all the time (and not just a random post), I will stop notifications from that person. It hurts my heart too much to see.

  5. on 05 Jun 2014 at 3:56 pmKristine Rudolph

    (And, you know how I feel about snarky comments about appearance!!)

  6. on 05 Jun 2014 at 9:42 pmNikki

    Love this post, Kristine. The biggest trigger that comes to mind mimics Katherine’s. We all have bad days. We all have days where we feel overwhelmed. It stings when I read posts where people are complaining about how crazy their children are driving them. What I wouldn’t give to have Ben here doing everything that is driving all of them crazy.
    On a more positive note but one that still gets an emotional response from me. People posting school pictures, family vacation pictures, “look how cute my kids are” pictures, etc. While I love seeing them it also makes my heart ache for what I so desperately want but can’t have.
    Thank you for this!

  7. on 05 Jun 2014 at 10:27 pmKristine Rudolph

    Oh, Nikki, I cannot even imagine how many triggers I would have if I had experienced a loss like yours. I am not sure I could even be on social media at all. You hit the nail on the head, too – you love seeing them but then again, they stab at your heart.

    W and I talked about Ben just the other night. He is remembered.

  8. on 06 Jun 2014 at 6:50 amStephanie Jordan

    Hi Kristine,

    I really enjoyed reading this and especially enjoyed how you beautifully acknowledged and hold the responsibility of your reaction as “yours” not “theirs.” You are right, it absolutely is our mindset, our deep inner need, when we read or experience anything that troubles us. I heard a voice of gracefulness too, in your article, as these “triggers” can guide us towards Mindfullness and a higher awareness of the workings of our own minds, rather than a festering in unexamined anger and this, complacency or numbness. Ex among the “triggers” is proactive! As for my own triggers, I find when woman post images of themselves as a subtle and indirect way of asking for praise and attention, irks me. I want to say “Oh no, here we go again, another insecure woman not owning her real beauty and looking for cheap compliments to make her day a little better.” Sounds awful. But, Facebook has shown me that it is often “used” as a place for people to build false-security, a false-happiness. It is the unexamined life. I am continually examine myself to understand why this particular trigger is one for me. I think it is because I want for females to represent us well! I want for woman to not have the deep OUTER “need” for attention. When attention comes when you weren’t even trying, when you weren’t even considering it, that is when it is sweet and beautiful and appreciated. That is when it is real. I do appreciate this article you wrote and shared with us, which encourages and brings to light the need for self-examination and Mindfullness…keeping it real! Good job!

  9. on 06 Jun 2014 at 7:13 amKristine Rudolph

    Beautiful, beautiful words, Stephanie. Thanks.

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