Here's the thing: I love social media.
And when I say that I love social media, I don't mean that I love that I have a way to mindlessly entertain myself whenever I please. (Not that I don't, in fact, mindlessly scroll through it sometimes.) When I say that I love it, I mean that I love what I've made it. I think that social media, like most tools, can be whatever you want it to be. I choose for this tool to be used for good.
For me, social media has primarily become a place to learn, be inspired, and be informed.
Not too long ago, though, it was a place where I often passed judgement and compared my life to others'. I became really concerned with what my Instagram looked like, what my everyday life looked like, and how my life came off to other people. I found myself people based on what they post, falling into the lie that what we post online is a true reflection of who we are. I would get annoyed with people for no reason, and I would spend forever trying to figure out the perfect caption for one of my posts. Frankly, I just cared way too much. So, I decided to change that.
If I found myself judging someone, I unfollowed them. Not because I didn't like them (whether I knew them or not), but because I didn't want what they post on line to cause a fault in our relationship. And honestly, I didn't want to sin just because of my reaction to their posts. If I found myself caring too much about what I posted, I didn't allow myself to post anything at all. The result of that was a low number of Instagrams, and somehow a lot more Tweets (I think I'm funny). I learned to check myself before I did anything online, because I have no place allowing myself to believe that my identity can be affected by my social media presence.
Now, the way I handle social media is really different. I love who I follow, and I seldom catch myself comparing my life to their's. And if I do, I close the app and move on, not allowing any room for me to feel less-than. I am still quick to unfollow people, but I find that happening less and less than it used to. I hardly get on Facebook, because it's a weird world and it doesn't make me feel good. I have chosen to make social media a good thing, rather than it being a big deal. From my best friends, to my family, and random strangers, I make sure that the people I follow on social media do one thing: inspire me.
Rather than mucking up some words about my friends and family, I'm going to focus on the group of people I keep up with that I have no ties to at all. You see, I follow a lot of people on social media that I've never met before, and they've become some of my biggest inspirations. From non-profit founders, pastors, activists, other writers, and more I have learned so much from so many of these people that, in reality, don't know that I exist. It sounds funny to say (write?) out loud, but nonetheless, it's true.
My favorite thing is that, because of the decisions I've made about social media, I no longer find myself wanting their lives, or seeing mine as less-than, because they do and say and experience cool things. I choose to learn from their way they live and choose to shape the world around them. I've come to look forward to their perspectives, their stories, their knowledge, or even their art, when I open Instagram or Twitter, which has helped social media to become more of a tool to be inspired than anything else.
All this being said, I'm thankful for the role that I've given social media in my life. I'm thankful for the people that I've chosen to follow, and the ways that they inspire me in the midst of my everyday life. Choosing to make social more than just a thing to scroll through when I'm bored has been a game changer for me. Choosing to let the people I follow be inspiring rather than annoying has been wonderful.
There may be a lot of negative effects of social media, but I'm not experiencing them. Social media is a place for me to get inspired, and I wouldn't want to have it any other way.