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.
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.