At this point you have probably heard about the current “movement” within the social media/instagram community. I deliberately try to avoid topics that can be viewed as controversial, not because I don’t have my own (usually very strong) opinions, but because I want my space to be a place where no matter where you are in your journey of motherhood, you can feel solidarity. I will always gladly and openly share what I believe on any topic, just email me or DM me. I love to talk! But this time is different. For several days now I have had a lot of thoughts floating around my mind on this issue and I want to address them.
So here it goes…
Social media is NOT for children. FULL. STOP! It was designed as a way for adults to connect with other ADULTS. FULL. STOP!
Read that sentence again if it is something that doesn’t compute. Kids should not be on instagram, facebook, snap chat, and whatever other apps there are out there preying on our youth. Parents (and here is where I might shock some people) need to start PARENTING and keep their kids off social media.
Now, I’m sure I’m going to hear countless comments about, how dare I judge another parent and what they choose to allow for their child, but while none of us should ever judge a person’s heart, and while the social media allowing parents intentions may be the purest, the action is wrong. A child is not mentally and emotionally mature enough to discern what is good for them, and it most certainly is NOT the job of strangers on the internet.
Children are impressionable. That’s just how it is. So when I hear that a child has thought about, attempted or committed suicide because of pressure they felt from social media, I am heart-broken and angry. I am heart-broken for that life. The one of the child that doesn’t know their worth. The one of the child that thinks they aren’t good enough. The one of the child that wanted to escape their reality so badly that they took their own life. I am angry that as a society we have become so caught up with being “cool” that even as parents we cave to peer pressure. That we as parents are afraid to parent because we don’t want the other parents to think we don’t love our kids. GUESS WHAT – you being your child’s parent, and not their friend is loving them! You reaffirming their worth, is loving them.
We need to be teaching them that what they see on the internet is not always the entire picture. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t mean it tells the whole story. The internet is not evil, but it can open of a gateway to a lot of evil. Did you know that as of 2016 the average age of first exposure to porn was 11! ELEVEN!!!!!!! Parents, if you want to give your child a smart phone, be smart about it! Instagram while having many great features, sadly doesn’t have parental control, and while nudity goes against instagrams terms and conditions (and they will delete accounts if reported) guess what can be easily searched, and sometimes even recommended? A child does not know how to handle that, they aren’t supposed to know how, so let’s be the parent and protect our children!
For many social media is a place to stay in touch with family and friends who live far away. For some, it’s a creative outlet, and for others it’s a place to help support their family.
Let’s discuss the latter. Bloggers and social media influencers are real people. They are real people with struggles, and hardships, yet because of their job they choose to portray a specific aesthetic, a specific brand, and a specific vibe. Using myself as an example…I am not some mega blogger with hundreds of thousands or millions of readers. I am not a social media influencer that because of her expansive reach gets free trips. But I am a wife, a mother, and a girl (I can’t stand the word woman) that enjoys writing. I enjoy sharing things I love with others – I have ALWAYS been this way – and I enjoy photography. Blogging and instagram combines two of my passions.
What many of you may not know – is that when I was little I used to take my dad’s SLR and take as many pictures with it as I could. Wasting rolls upon rolls of film. Then in high school I got to learn how to develop my own film and print my own images. Then my first (non babysitting job) was at a little mom and pop photo shop. I love art. I love photography. I love making the every day look beautiful. Why? Because there is beauty in the chaos. There is beauty in the mundane. And while some might see me taking pictures of my kids rather than spending time with them (which I do 24/7), I see pictures they can look back on when they’re older. I see memories – good and bad – that we can smile and laugh about in the future.
This past week influencers and bloggers have been torn down and have received a lot of blame for being the cause of other people’s feeling of inadequacy. Yet people are influenced by what they themselves choose to surround themselves with.
I remember being in middle school and my parents didn’t allow me to have certain friends. I thought they were being the most unfair, judgmental people on the face of the earth (because everything is very dramatic in middle school). Yet my parents saw things that I didn’t. They saw behaviors in these other kids, that as a child myself, I couldn’t and didn’t recognize. Behaviors that they didn’t want me to be … wait for it … influenced by. I might have “hated” them for being “so unfair”, but they were loving me. They knew what I could handle, and what would possibly tear me down. They as my parent knew me as their child.
We constantly hear young adults say that they are going to college, or traveling abroad to find themselves. Well if a young adult hasn’t found themselves yet, how do we expect our CHILDREN to have done so? We as parents need to stop allowing strangers to influence our children. We as parents need to help our children choose role models that can be a positive influence in their life. That person/persons will be different for each child/family but it isn’t for social media to decide.
There is a whole lot of good in this world, but y’all there is also a whole lot of bad, and they prey on the innocent. Don’t let your child’s innocence be robbed by strangers. We as parents are here to help teach our children the skills to properly discern, so when they are old enough, they can know themselves well enough to properly choose what is good for them and what they should refrain from.
Which leads me to adults. Adults – we need to start taking some personal responsibility for our own actions and emotions. If I know a person who makes me feel less than and makes me feel envious, I don’t choose to associate with them. I choose to distance myself. I choose this because I know that life is too short to constantly compare. So if I wouldn’t want to associate with them in real life, why would I choose to follow their every move on social media? Why is your unhappiness the fault of the person posting the picture of their newly renovated kitchen or their recent trip to Hawaii? Why should someone else stop living their life, or working their job, simply because I cannot handle it?
Guess what, there will ALWAYS be someone who is prettier, taller, skinnier, healthier, smarter, richer, funnier, neater (need I go on?) than you. ALWAYS. But guess what else, you will be that person for so many others, countless others that you might never know. We will always find flaws within ourself if we allow ourselves to compare. Nobody’s life is perfect. The old saying is true. Money can’t buy you happiness. It can buy you a lot of pretty things, but it doesn’t buy happiness. Something I know all too well.
If following someone you’ve never met on the internet makes you feel worthless, makes you feel jealous, makes you feel less than, STOP FOLLOWING THEM! You need to choose for yourself to stop! They are not making you follow them. It is YOUR decision. You are giving them power over your life. They aren’t taking it! It is literally impossible for them to do so.
Do those with massive followings have a great responsibility to spread positivity – in my mind, yes. HOWEVER since they too have that amazing gift of free will, they can choose to spread negativity if they want and even then it is our decision whether or not we allow ourselves to be influenced by it. Influencers have NO influential power unless WE give it to them. Period. If you don’t like what someone is saying because you disagree, if you don’t like the fact that someone posts a stylized ad because it is a way for them to support themselves or their family, then don’t follow them. It’s that simple. It doesn’t make them a bad person, it doesn’t make them better or less than you, it makes them different.
I choose to share pretty pictures because I love having those to look back on. I choose to add a certain filter to my images because I want anyone that views them to have a sense of warmth and comfort. The same feeling I hope they would get when walking into our home. I choose to share my crazy messy hair, massive pile of dirty clothes, and my kid pitching a fit on my stories because I want to show y’all that you are NOT alone! I choose what I share, the same way you choose what you will listen to.
I must admit, when all of this was brought to light this past week, I had never heard of Collin, I had never heard of the hundreds of bloggers and influencers people are claiming to unfollow. Not because I live under a rock, but because I know what I want to surround myself with. I want moms I can talk about poop with, and can rock a spit up stained shirt with. I appreciate the beauty of many of the beautifully curated feeds, but I see them for what they are. Beautifully curated feeds. It is hard work! It is art. Each individual little square takes countless hours of planning and preparation. That isn’t for everyone and that is OK, but that doesn’t make it bad.
Don’t judge a person based off of a tiny square. Don’t compare your day 3, or 6, mom bun to a styled messy bun. You can’t compare your every day, to someone’s workday. It would be like me pulling a splinter out of my kids finger and then comparing myself to the surgeon that performed surgery. NOT THE SAME! All of us have our messy side, but just because it exists doesn’t mean we have to show the world. And just because someone chooses not to share certain things, it doesn’t make them fake. When people come over for dinner you don’t leave your laundry out and your wet towels on the floor do you? You clean that up, you show what you want your guests to see. So why are we judging people for “cleaning up” their feeds? And y’all – some people are that neat. Some people really do have super clean homes – my father in law is one of them. That place is IMMACULATE! I on the other hand couldn’t keep it like that for an hour, let alone my life.
It is heartbreaking to hear that children are being hospitalized because of pressure they felt on the internet. It is heartbreaking to hear that postpartum mothers are feeling less than and unworthy of love because they don’t look like other mom’s they see on social media. Yet, instead of talking about it, instead of placing the blame, why don’t we become the change we want to see? If you don’t like what you see, unfollow and be the change. I know I can never have that picture perfect feed/life because life isn’t perfect and I am too much of a hotmess to even attempt to portray that.
What I am, is a real mom who is trying her hardest to keep it together on days that her husband works late and her kids are going ape shit! I am a real mom who might not get a shower for … 3 days, and rocks that same outfit she wore the night before. I am the mom who sucks at doing laundry and thankfully has an amazing husband who comes to her rescue. I’m also the mom that loves my kids more than anything. I am the mom that loves to capture their smile on camera because you never know when it is that last time you might see it. I am the mom who tries to be a free range parent while doing laps like a helicopter. I am a mom who is just trying to figure it out and is trying to remind others that they’re not alone.
So while I hope and pray I never say or do anything that hurts another person, I know that I am only responsible for my own actions. I am flawed, and I put my foot in my mouth all the time, yet I hope that so long as I stay close to the Lord I can influence others in a positive way and never in one that causes them any pain.
Let’s stop judging the influencers that have the “perfect” feeds, and let’s stop judging moms because they’re too “perfect”, because none of us know the whole story. Let’s be the example we want to set for our children, and surround ourselves by those that inspire us.