I started on Facebook about 20 years ago. A friend introduced me to it and helped me navigate the set up. I was excited because it felt like my entry into the popular world. I was always a little on the wallflower side growing up- clueless to what was trending. I found it fun to be able to connect and share my life with others and get instant feedback. Gradually I branched out from scrolling and posting to playing FarmVille, making and joining groups, using it as a business platform, making purchases, sharing and affirming beliefs and values, and then finally making the jump to Instagram about 5 years ago.
Instagram appealed to me because of its artistic side. It was fun to see what was trending in women’s fashions, home decor and baby products. I discovered small shops I liked and wanted to support. I developed a knack for turning photo posts into mini narratives about our life. I appreciated that Instagram was more informative and less political than Facebook had become.
Recently, however, a new thought crept into my mind: how much of my mind is my own? Unbeknownst to me I have begun to incorporate so much of what I see on social media into how I live; of course, everything aligns with our family values and convictions but it’s still been absorbed by me from social media. And so I pondered further. Is this what is happening to our society? Have we become “click happy” and “scroll addicted”? Can we think for ourselves or generate our own ideas without first viewing it on a screen?
I’ve begun to wonder if the present generation thinks life only happens if it’s been Facebook approved or influencer promoted. Meals are captioned; events are shared; products are modeled; current events are evaluated; parenting is taught; advice is given. And there is nothing inherently wrong with that unless we can no longer live our lives without doing it or worse, no longer think for ourselves. Social media users must be cognizant of the fact that much of what is on social media is propaganda and opinion but it is being embraced as gospel: it’s what everyone is doing…thinking…believing and so it must be right.
I see many productive uses for social media. I don’t plan to remove it from my life entirely. I think I am going to exercise restraint on how much I consume of it and balance my usage of it with reading books, listening to podcasts, and being quiet. My brain needs a chance to think critically, evaluate objectively and create its own perspectives. I want to know that I’m decorating my home according to my own taste and style; parenting according to my own intuition; living according to my personality- not because it’s trending on social media.
We are influenced every day by someone or something. Let’s be more aware of the influencers in our lives. Let’s practice thinking for ourselves and articulating fresh ideas.