Social media has become a hot topic in recent years. When it was first unveiled, Myspace and later Facebook were hailed as innovative. People flocked to join and become apart of this new trend. Recently these social media sites have been blamed for suicides caused by bullying among adolescents, as well a tendency for people to actually become less social. There is a new movement of people who are “deleting” their Facebooks and unplugging from social media. Facebook has become a dirty word associated with inflated egos, “selfies” and superficiality.
I agree that social media platforms have attracted a certain type of attention seeking individual who feeds on praises from “friends”. It has brought about an obsession for sharing every detail of individual lives. The need to keep up with their friends and to shape their family photos into perfection! To be more interesting, thinner, and happier than everyone else on their friends list.
I believe that social media is simply a stage! On that stage you can build anything you want. Some people choose to make it all about them and post “selfies” and pictures of their vacations or new car purchases. Others use that stage to discuss political issues that are important to them. I use my stage to share my family’s life with those that I love and care about.
I have three sisters and four brothers. I also have have 11 nieces and 1 nephew and another niece on the way! My husband is from India, where his mom and two sisters and a niece and nephew still live. We both went to college in Southern California and now live in Northern California. I have traveled to South America. In short, Facebook is where I keep in contact with all of my family and friends.
To be honest it hurts me deeply that I can not be with my nieces and nephews as they grow up. I have always wanted a close family, but for varies reasons we are scattered around the world. It fills me with so much happiness to see their pictures, videos, and milestones on my Facebook feed. This may sound corny but I feel as if I am there with them as they grow up. On the occasions I do get to see them in person I feel like I have not missed any time with them. I do not feel like a stranger. I feel that I know them and their interests and personality. I have seen them play sports, dance, sing. I have seen their videos and I have watched them blossom. I have seen friends wedding photos and births and graduations. I have laughed at jokes and video and cried and connected with people over tragedies.
I can send out emails to all these people in my life, but Facebook just makes it easier. I can post a picture of my daughter at ballet, and now my mom and siblings and family all can see this important event in my daughter’s life. I am not ashamed to say that Facebook keeps me connected.
Social Media has allowed me to make new connections as well. To make new friends. I mean to use the word friends, not just the people on my facebook account, but real friend I actually care about and who care about me. Specifically Facebook has allowed me to meet other “Masala Couples”. When I first met and then married my husband I did not know any other mixed Indian couples. I had questions and concerns. We Masala couples face unique issues that only other Masala couples would understand. Since starting my group for mixed Indian couples on Facebook I have made so many friends. We have all connected and bonded over shared experiences.
The problem comes when people judge their self worth by how many likes they get on their photos, or by comparing their lives to others. In the past our life events were not judged and evaluated so easily by others. Facebook has made our lives more public.
I have fallen pray to comparing my life with others, and feeling inadequate. I see a friend’s new house, vacation, or career. I feel my own self esteem sink. For a moment I feel like failure in comparison. The reality is that Facebook is a stage and we control what we put on it. We do not know all the details of that person’s life.
My favorite quote expresses my feelings pretty well on this issue: “Life is a Journey, not a destination.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have to remind myself of this often.
Everyone takes a different route in life. There is no meter of success! No scale, no bench mark! It is all relative!
I have had people tell me that I am such a wonderful mom because I do so many activities with my daughter. I have heard people say they feel inadequate in comparison because they do not have the time to do those activities with their children. It was never my intention to have that effect on other people. No one sees the tantrums my daughter goes through. No one sees the doubts that I have as a mother or my feelings of inadequacy. I don’t share all those things daily on social media. Sometimes I share issues I am having with my daughter because I believe in reaching out for support.
Social media is a communication tool, like a phone, letter, or email!
Gossip, bullying and judgment has been around since the dawn of time. I bet the cavemen even criticized each other. You know they probably competed for best cave paintings!
Forget about blaming social media! It’s like blaming a piece of paper because a mean letter was written on it! Let’s instead realize that social media is just a tool for communication. Let’s teach our children that happiness is more than things that money can buy. That popularity is fleeting and human kindness is more important. That no one is perfect, and that we should embrace the journey and not just the destination.
Facebook has connected me with my loved ones and allowed me to be apart of their lives even though we are thousands of miles apart. It is a tool that I control, and is nothing more then that. Deleting Facebook is like destroying my mailbox for its potential to bring bad news. It does not make sense, and has more to do with the individual than the site.