social media has a lot of good things going for it.
connecting with anyone at anytime from almost any place…with just a few taps and clicks on a screen. people reunite and stay in touch frequently. friendships that could’ve gone by the wayside stay front and center thanks to alerts, likes, and follows.
when it comes to parenthood, however, all this connecting can often push towards comparison.
now – noticing that one thing is different than the other is fine. heck, it’s one of my most cherished memories from childhood (c’mon, you remember the song, right?). when i take it a step further is when trouble comes. not only do i notice the difference, but i place a value judgement on it.
‘she’s wearing a blue shirt? oh, blue shirts must be better. she is better than i am.’
‘that kid is drinking from a water bottle? my kid only drinks breastmilk. my kid is healthier.’
‘why does their family always sit together in church? our kids go to childcare. they must love each other more than we do.’
in my everyday life, that very thought process happens on a daily basis, many more times than i should allow. normal human interaction begs for it, and often i give in and walk away with a hefty, self-inflicted dose of ‘woe-is-me’isms or ‘sure-glad-i’m-not-them’itis. i don’t need tweets and updates and posts and snaps to suck me into comparing and judging.
yet social media takes it to a whole new level. and here is why:
in the highest, most joy-filled, unicorns-dancing-under rainbows moments as a parent – the kids are eating raw organic broccoli dipped in fermented goat milk yogurt while gently singing ancient hymns in Spanish on a hand-quilted blanket next to our homestead garden while essential oils waft to the heavens – with just a few swipes of a finger, i can pat my ego on the back and affirm that right now, i am better than all.these.other.parents.out.there.in.the.world. this one (ooh, a status about teething and you already gave him tylenol? hmm). and that one (yelled at your teenager again? well then…). and definitely this one too (wine? before 10 AM? dear, dear me…).
at my best, i can instantly access your worse.
and at my worse, i can instantly access your posed, primped, and posted best.
before social media, the people around me were pretty much in the same level of life as i was at that moment.
in the line at the grocery store? yup, the family in front of you was too. and the one behind you. we were all on the level playing field of chocolate bars and plastic tchotchkes and expensive breakable things too close to sticky toddler fingers. we saw one another. we silently acknowledged. we pushed through, victorious together.
showing up for church? everyone around you – although just a frazzled and sweaty and out of breath as you were from the weekly wrestling match that sunday morning brought – put on their best and smiled and connected. we showed our hearts and gave hugs and nudged the kids towards the classrooms. one in spirit, one in song.
now? when i’m in that grocery line, kids spilling out on all sides and magazines catapulting across the conveyor belt, ***swipe, click, poke, push*** i’m looking at perfectly set dining room tables and creative ways to teach math and the latest trick to look slim after baby and my week on a secluded island in bali and peaceful parenting tips for every age.
i’m here. they are there. and the judgement comes rushing in.
of course, i have the choice. to tune in to the NOW and turn off the stream of images and text that pull me away. it’s a matter of self-control and i’d be foolish to fully point the finger elsewhere.
what am i choosing to do? to think again before posting. to check my own motives for sharing. how is pride nudging me towards displaying my best so i can keep ahead of the judgement game? it’s so easy to filter – in more ways than one – what social media speaks about a person.
maybe it’s time to delete those filters.