Happy Friday Eve! You got big plans this weekend? Hopefully Valentines Day met all of your expectations. Unfortunately, I ended up eating too many chocolate covered pretzels. Dang. Who doesn’t want some chocolate covered pretzels though? See what had happened was…I had the great opportunity (as always) to get some pictures made for this AMAZING BRAND – BORN PRIMITIVE. The shoot lasted awhile because it included a whole lot of new, pretty stuff. Well, I didn’t get to eat lunch before, and ya girl gotta eat. So, by 6 pm, I lost it and ate the majority of the chocolate covered pretzels that some kind people dropped off at the gym for VDAY. And then Daniel bought me a grocery store container for valentines day, and I ate most of those too (I don’t even really like chocolate covered pretzels, and I haven’t had them since last VDAY probably!)  They were good though. Not complaining. My fault. I just had no self control.

See, I post the good food I eat on instagram (on my story) every now and then. And for real, that’s probably 90% of life. It’s good. It makes me feel good. And it fuels me for my workouts. However, I probably don’t post the bad as much as I should. And that’s because we (as in all of us) usually just like to post our pretty, little perfect lives on instagram, when in reality, sometimes we’re just not as perfect as we think everyone thinks we are. 

I posted a little about social media on Monday – specifically the positive and negative impact instagram has had on me. Today I want to follow that up with how we can use instagram, and other forms of social media, to positively impact the people in our life, instead of allowing it to take hold of us. 

First of all, the problem isn’t social media. The problem is us – how we’ve given it permission to rule over us. Social media is great. Remember My Space? That was fantastic…until it wasn’t. But it was a great start to this social media phenom that we live in today. We connect through it. We use it to come together for a common purpose. We use it to share cool videos, pictures, stories, and ideas with others. We use it for inspiration. And we use it to stay in the know.

However, it’s a slippery slope, and if we have some empty places in our life, we may try to fill those holes with social media — as in likes, followers, affirmation, and the successes for others and/or ourselves. We attach credibility to others based on how many followers or likes they have. We sometimes allow social media to dictate our “happiness.” We jump on bandwagons. It sets up a door for us to gossip or say hurtful things about others. We judge others based on what we see on instagram (when the real problem may be something we need to workout in our own life 🙂

Personally, I’ve been impacted – both positively and negatively. I try not to look at my phone while I’m at the gym working out or coaching, and I try not to look at it when I’m out, or spending time with Daniel, my friends, or family <<—–although I definitely come up short in this a lot>> BUT, with that said, I think about social media all the time. I can’t wait to get home so I can scroll through instagram while I eat my lunch. Daniel loves to read at night time, but I just love catching up on people’s instagram stories, or responding back to other people.

And arguably worse, I allow it to dictate my happiness – which is always fleeting. I see something I like as I scroll, or I get a “like” or a certain number of followers, and I’m happy. But if I see something that makes me feel less about myself, and I’m down. 

So, all that to say… the number one thing I’m learning right now about social media is this:

It’s dangerous to scroll through my feed or post something to social media from a place of emptiness. I have to let other things dictate my joy (like my identity, who I can inspire, and what/who I have in my life to be thankful for). If I scroll through instagram looking for happiness, or if I post something looking to get a positive response, I’m going to get let down when my high expectations aren’t met.

Just being real. You may be reading this like, WTH are you even talking about Alison? Or maybe you can relate too. I’m not saying I feel like this every day, but I can count on two hands in the past year that I’ve felt weirdly sad or let down by a social media platform. 

So, obviously if you don’t struggle with this, you’re probably not even reading anymore. But if you are sometimes affected negatively by social media, then what can WE do to make it a better place – for us, and for other people as well.

  • We unfollow. If there is someone you follow on instagram that makes you feel like crap about yourself, then WHHYYYYY do you follow them? Maybe you even need to unfollow me. I’m trying to post real life stuff, and if that makes you feel weird, then you may need to unfollow me. If you don’t like seeing girls with muscles in sports bras working out (that’s totally understandable) you probably don’t want to follow me. If someone makes you feel uneasy, unworthy, insecure, or shameful, unfollow them – even if the deeper issue is you. You have enough to worry about. For realz.
  • We take a break from social media – Maybe it’s one day out of the week. Maybe it’s for an extended period of undetermined time. Maybe it’s while you’re at work so you can be productive. Maybe it’s an hour before you go to bed, or even for the entire evening when you are with your family. Monitor how you feel when you aren’t on social media vs when you are one hour into scrolling.
  • We learn more about people. If you’ve been hurt on the internet, you know it sucks. But did you ever think that maybe people that post crazy ish stuff, or say hurtful things is because they have a deeper issue they need to work out? I’m not saying this issue is them and not you and me, BUT if someone takes to bullying, there is usually always a deeper issue that doesn’t have anything to do with you or me.
  • We try to be more present. This means that we focus on the REAL people and experiences around us — opportunities to make someone’s day or teach them something, or better yet, learn something great and/or new ourselves.
  • We find meaning and purpose in life outside of social media. – OMG, yes. I WILL MISS OUT ON THE STORIES OR CONVERSATIONS OR FEEDBACK FROM OTHER PEOPLE ABOUT HOW I HAVE MAYBE MADE A SMALL DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIFE IF I AM TOO BUSY FOCUSING ON THE PUBLIC AFFIRMATION ON INSTAGRAM. <— sorry for the CAPS. I’m not yelling. Or maybe I am. But lately, I’ve felt down a time or two because someone maybe didn’t publicly say something about me helping them with their goals. (I know, I know…I guess trying to prove myself to others). However, handwritten notes, private messages or text messages, and good REAL person to person convos go WAY further than someone commenting publicly on your account for the world to see. Remember that, or you’ll miss an opportunity to be #blessed.
  • We build each other up on social media. Happy, fulfilled, successful women and men don’t bash, make fun of, or put others down on the internet – or in real life for that matter. We’ve all done it. It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon on the internet- focusing on a common purpose. This can be positive and helpful. However, if it’s driven by hate and/or insecurity, it’s baaaaaadddddd. Really bad.  Nobody wins from that. And I can tell you that because I’ve done it, and I’ve been on the other side. Both sides leave you with a sucky feeling, and don’t give life.
  • We avoid negativity and getting wrapped up in arguments over the internet. There’s a time and a place for confrontation. It’s all in the approach. Sometimes publicly on the internet may be the best outlet for this, but in most cases, it isn’t. 

At the end of the day, here are two questions to leave us with (because I talk to myself through these blogs too)

  1. How do you consistently feel after you scroll through your social media?
  2. If instagram, facebook, twitter, etc social disappeared tomorrow, who would you still be inspiring or impressing? As in, if you post to inspire (as a mom, wife, Christian, business owner, entrepreneur, athlete, coach, student, or just random person working a 9-5 job) are you living the same life inspiring people around you as you do on the internet?

And last, but not least, let’s try and treat others the way we want to be treated. We can inspire others -on and off the internet – and use social media for good.