March 18, 2005. That’s the day it all began for me. The day I fell down the rabbit hole of social media. Do you remember your first day on social media?
Of course, it didn’t seem like much of a rabbit hole to me at the time. In fact, I don’t even think social media existed in the vernacular. I sat in front of the bulky desktop computer in my childhood home with the newly minted college email ending in .edu that was needed to join this website called Facebook. I didn’t know it then, but I was falling into the beginnings of a decades-long comparison trap. Yet I stand here today as a 35-year-old who is ready to admit that I am done with the social media-fueled comparison trap.
Back in 2005, just 5% of adults were on social media. According to data from The Pew Research Center, now approximately 72% of all adults say they are engaged as a user of at least one social media platform. So I suppose the good and bad news is that most of our peers have also gotten pulled into the social media web.
Just the other night, as I fed my son by the glow of my iPhone, I came across a 26-minute podcast that shattered my perspective on social media and the comparison trap. The host, a former fashion & beauty influencer who took a social media hiatus after a crisis of conscience, details how she felt stuck on a hamster wheel of comparison. One phrase, in particular, struck me, “There are never enough likes. There are never enough followers. There is just never ENOUGH.”
Those words are still ringing in my ears and heart as I reflect on my relationship with social media. I remembered many times that I’ve been the perpetrator of my own highlight reel. I have found myself opting to post one photo of my son over another because the latter photo shows an unfolded pile of laundry in the background. I cropped another photo to edit out the very real pile of clutter on my dining room table. Just the other day, I filmed a reel and used one of those Instagram filters that made me look like my face had nary a wrinkle and a perfect makeup application. I have no explanation for why I was driven to use a filter when in reality, I just didn’t feel like putting on makeup. I supposed I’d just forgotten in my social media scrolling and posting that I am enough, just as I am.
I see a photo of someone’s well-put-together primary bathroom as they share the decanter they just bought for their mouthwash. I cringe and think of the plastic bottle of Listerine next to my husband’s sink on the vanity. Panic sets in. Do I need a decanter for my mouthwash?
Absurd example as that may be, it illustrates the insanity of comparing our day-to-day to the highlight reel and bathroom storage of others.
Quite frankly, I am quitting the concept of not being enough. Don’t fret. I’m not quitting social media. I’ve actually found a new appreciation for what it is; a way to keep in touch. I’m grateful for Facebook and Instagram to keep me connected with my loved ones, especially over the last two long years of a global pandemic. I’ve been able to share over a year’s worth of my firstborn son’s journey from crawling to full-blown walking toddlerhood, the birth of my second son, a job change, a new business venture with my husband, nearly a dozen foster dogs, and some of the otherwise mundane moments of daily life in the Montague household. So I’ve started by making a commitment to myself to check my relationship with social media and encouraging loved ones around me to follow one another both online and in real life! I’m removing the filters from my life and giving myself lots of social media grace and even a few social media breaks.
Please join me in living life totally unfiltered.