We are increasingly more connected but also disconnected. There is value in social media as it has provided us with platforms to engage with others and find resources that we may not have had access to in a different time. Those who identify as LGBTQ2S+ have found necessary life-saving connections and acceptance through social media. In fact, you probably learned about Airdrie Pride through social media, but it is also impacting our mental wellness.
This happens through Comparison and false connection.
We have been told time and time again that what people put on Facebook is only the best, orchestrated version of themselves that they want you to see. Knowing this doesn’t make comparison happen any less. Just as we can be told that cover models are photoshopped and not real, millions of people compare themselves and engage in self-loathing based on unrealistic expectations. Social media is a terrible example of real life.
I will always be thankful for social media in keeping me connected to my friends and family when I moved provinces. That being said, these connections were not maintained and especially not deepened purely through social media. That requires human connection, voices, facial expressions, and touch. To truly connect we need more than emoticons and Gifs.
We are sitting with our friends and family while we scroll and compare. We are together yet alone. I wake up every morning pour my coffee and scroll, and now my children do the same (minus the coffee). My mind reels as I consider that they are pulled towards watching endless videos on YouTube, just as I am to social media. Don’t get me wrong, I will never have a completely screen free home (insert gasp here), but that’s cool if you do. My children are respectful human beings who do well in school and contribute to the functioning of our home, but there could be more.
Screens and social media have a place, but they must not replace. To create this balance, I will add more things in not create a punitive feeling of deprivation. I will be the one to change my behavior and will take the time I spend away from scrolling to engage my kids in conversations around compassion and self-esteem. Compassion for both themselves and others. I will foster awareness of the messages received from the society we live in rather than attempt to shield them from it. I want to raise humans who are kind in the comment section and think critically about what they see.
Airdrie Pride has four opportunities every month to create in-person connections, to find community in your community. Put down your phones and tablets and join us!