It’s fall and cuffing season has officially begun. If you’re not familiar with that term, the Urban Dictionary defines cuffing season as the season in which everyone is gets coupled up when the weather begins to change as it is gets cold outside. The reason I bring it to your attention is that it reminds us that even though the swimsuit-wearing-yacht-sailing-exotic-
vacation-season is over, the images that project competition into our lives are not. We all know that studies are rapidly being conducted to assess what kinds of effects social media has had on us, and one that has already been discovered is that depression is on the rise as a direct result of the rise of social media. Do we have to accept it as a new way of life or are there things that we can implement as we teach our children and teens how to proactively ward against it as well? I have talked to a few incredible teens lately who have had amazing insight into the world of social media and how to guard our hearts from the effects of it which inspired this post. Let’s get into it!
Secret #1) You can challenge your mindset! It is NOT true that social media is necessary to connect with others.
After Unconditional this summer, I took a couple of girls who were in town visiting their dad and step mom hiking. They’d attended the conference and I wanted to get a feel for how it had impacted their lives so we took a day trip to Mount Charleston. As we talked, they shared some of the struggles they’d learned to navigate by moving to a new city for the first time in their lives during the former school year. When I asked which social media outlets they’d used to keep in touch with their friends, the junior in high school, admitted that she hadn’t used any. In fact, she’d made the conscious decision to SHUT DOWN ALL OF HER ACCOUNTS. When I asked why she’d done it, she answered that she didn’t really feel like the interactions were authentic or that the people who were following her were truly her friends and wanted the best for her.
This young lady made this decision on her own! Everyone else in her home was still active on social media, but she’d made the conscious choice to get off in spite of the fact that she’d just moved thousands of miles away from her best friends. What she told me next surprised me even more! She shared that her friendships had grown because they were responsible for having real conversations to check in on one another, rather than just scrolling through social media to see what everybody was doing. Since then, I continue to meet TEENAGERS who have made the conscious choice to get off of social media, and I love that they don’t have any regrets about it, at all.
Secret #2) You can remember to rest! We all need a break sometime.
I use social media to develop business relationships with others and it has truly worked for me. I’ve been hired as a speaker, attracted more clients, received free registration to conferences, and connected with a few of my mentors over email as a result of it. Even still, we all get caught up in the comparisons that influence our beliefs about ourselves and others on social media, including me. In fact, I don’t just get caught up in comparison, I get caught up in feeling anxious about what else I can do or contrive to catch up with others. There are times, when I jump on Instagram as early as 7 in the morning and it breeds a desire to keep checking the number of interactions throughout the day. Spending a day off of social media helps me to check all of those feelings regularly so that I can remember I’m in control, instead of social media.
I heard a heartbreaking story about a young lady that had a little drama with a few girls at her school which blew up on social media overnight, while she was asleep. This teenager checked her phone at about 7 in the morning to find that the girls she’d been arguing with the day before had been obsessed with her lack of responsivity. They’d posted new threats each hour that she’d spent sleeping, and it not only broke my heart that she had to wake up to that reality, but I was saddened that they hadn’t been sleeping at all as they obsessed over why another girl had chosen not to respond to them. What do you think she did? Did she retaliate with additional threats? Did she fight them when they got to school? Neither. She chose to take a vacation from social media. She admitted that although she didn’t activate her accounts, she does make an intentional choice not to log on.
Secret #3) Nothing on social media is a secret! Talk about it.
When was the last time you chose to speak to a counselor, a psychologist, a pastor, or an accountability partner about some of the negativity that you experienced as a result of social media? It’s a part of our lives, just as work, parenting, spousing it, and ministry are, and more than likely it encompasses all of that. You shouldn’t have to feel as if you have to hold it all in yourself, and neither should our children and teens. In fact, I’ve noticed that they don’t have any problem discussing what happened to them on social media. Why do we? Ask them what they saw on social media that bothered them or upset them and give them an opportunity to bring the confusing, chaotic, conflicting things to you. Ask they what excited them. Begin to enjoy the things that they enjoy and watch it influence their connection to social media. You may find that your opinion becomes more important than anyone who they are following or who are following them.
Are there any other tips that you implement which you can share? Trust me, it would help all of us. During a session of M.A.D. Conversations with The Colorfully Candid Paradigm, we discovered that many times the teens felt that their parents were on social media more than they were. This is going to take work-from the both of you so let’s make a conscious choice to lead healthier lives for ourselves and our loved ones. After all, we’re being watched closely. Love you all, can’t wait to hear from you!