It’s strange to think that a few years ago Facebook didn’t exist. It has become such an integral part of our lives. If we have a few minutes to spare, we’re on it, just checking up on what people are up to or sharing about our day.
I love being able to keep in touch with people at the click of a button and see friend’s photographs, most of which I’d probably never see if Facebook didn’t exist.
However, amongst all the positives and advantages there is definitely a dark side to social media. There is the cyber-bullying that takes bullying to a whole new level and means our children don’t get to come home away from school bullies, they follow them into our homes through social media.
And it isn’t just school-aged children that are coming under this attack, it is adults, celebrities, anyone…. It makes us vulnerable to stalking and evil people who bully adults, aptly dubbed ‘trolls’.
But on a very basic level, it can make us feel rubbish about our own lives. There are people who like to moan and air their dirty laundry for the whole of cyber-world to see (and of course cause everyone else to speculate who they might be talking about); but the majority of users just want to present a view of their lives as awesome and something to be envied. So all we see is this incredible life of fun and friends; we don’t see the struggles and the hardships and the insecurities and the bad days when everyone’s shouting at each other.
I went away for a weekend with my family over the summer. We had a fabulous time and really enjoyed spending quality time together (which we don’t do enough of to be honest). When we got home I sat down for a bit and checked out Facebook – see what I’d missed over the weekend. 3 separate groups of friends had had parties or gone out as a group and not invited us, and I felt DREADFUL. I honestly wanted to run to my room and cry.
I have a big thing about being left-out. It’s a horrible feeling. It’s irrational and it takes me back to primary school, sat in the corner of the playground on my own crying because I was lonely. I am old enough to know better and I have loads of friends, but I still feel wounded when I get left out. I’m sure it’s not just me and I am working on it with God. I’m much better than I was, and in a couple of year’s time I will be even better again. I have always struggled with insecurity and unfortunately Facebook feeds that insecurity when I see friends meet up and I’m not there; or such-a-body has had a party and we weren’t invited; or a group has gone out for a meal and we didn’t know. Now of course Facebook doesn’t actually MAKE me insecure, it is just feeding insecurity that is already there.
Most people are insecure in one area of their lives because we all know we aren’t perfect and there are areas for improvement, but not everyone shows it in the same way. Some people cover up their insecurity by appearing to be over-confident or cocky. Some people just keep it all hidden away so no-one knows how they feel, and then there are extroverts like me who just blurt and wear their hearts on their sleeves.
So what is the answer? Do I come off Facebook because of how it sometimes makes me feel? Or do I deal with the underlying problem? It’s got to be the 2nd one for me. I want to deal with issues in my character and improve areas that are weak, but where do I start?
I have to get out of my head and onto paper. Everyone has self-talk – the things that we say to ourselves in our head, and it runs continually and most of it is negative. If I stay in my head, i.e. constantly thinking things through, I can tie myself in knots. What is better is to start writing down things that are true.
If you are feeling insecure, start by writing down 20-30 things that you have achieved in your lifetime. Awards won at school; qualifications; great things you have done for someone else; special things that make you you; character traits.
Now when you have your list, read it and think about those things. Don’t think about the negative things or areas that need improving at this time. Just look at the positive and focus on those things.
Philippians 4:7-8 says
7 Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.
8 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
The key is to take hold of our thoughts and to ‘force’ them to think on positive things rather than negative. We can literally drive ourselves mad by focusing on negative things in the world; in our lives; by worrying what other people think of us.
The other thing I need to do is to learn to enjoy the moment – appreciate the people who are with me at the time and not worry about what everyone else is doing. Sometimes on a night out we can spend so long taking photos for social media to show everyone what a fabulous time, we forget to enjoy the event. Funnily enough, I’ve heard many people say that although the photos on Facebook made it look like they were having an amazing time, the photos really were the best part of the evening! The camera can lie people!
So for me, I am going to stay on Facebook. I am going to enjoy the moment and the people in my life and I am going to focus on the positive things in myself and in life. Here’s to feeling more confident in 2016!