In Defense of Social Media

I think I am addicted to social media. Specifically Facebook and Instagram.

Like most addictions, I feel guilty about this. But I don't believe there's any point in feeling guilty about anything. Either you do it and you own it, or you stop.

This is me owning it.

In the morning when I wake up and turn on my phone, I check social media before I check my email. I don't do this every morning, but I do it every morning that I can.

When I actually have time to work, I interrupt myself to check Facebook.

When I actually have time read, I interrupt the pages to check Instagram.

Usually, I spend more time on social media than I want to.

Why do I check it so often?

Because I love climbing into other people's minds, seeing glimpses of the world through their eyes. Maybe I'm bored or uncentered or lacking focus. Maybe what I'm trying to write or read is hard and I'd rather be distracted than face the demons. Maybe it's resistance. Maybe I'm hiding beneath social media, hiding from my work and my responsibilities and everything else that's actually important.

Or maybe that's not it.

I'm a work-at-home mother. I don't get a lot of adult interaction aside from school pick-ups, the occasional play date or girlfriend date, and husband-wife time when we're not too exhausted from the wildness of the parenting wilderness.

Social media helps that wilderness become a community. It closes the gaps. It makes us neighbors, even when we live on opposite sides of this polychromatic planet. Today a friend secured a walker for her baby via Facebook. (Why buy when you can borrow?) Another Facebook friend with a sick child in the hospital appears to have found many prayers and much comfort via Facebook. This weekend a friend from college got engaged and a friend from high school had her baby. Because of social media I get to see my sorority sisters in their wedding dresses. I get to share articles and conversations with like-minded people. I get to stay in touch with distant family members and watch old friends' kids grow up. I get advice and support and love on Facebook.

As for Instagram. I love it more than Facebook though I find it serves a much different purpose. Instagram is simpler. Instagram is about life as it happens, and because you need a photo to share a thought, more thought goes into every post. Instagram lets you create and share your creation immediately. This platform encourages creativity while delivering inspiration curated by you. And because there's no algorithm (yet?) to the posts you see, you're always on the cutting edge of the universe. You're watching history as it unfolds.

I joined Facebook in 2004. And I've been on Instagram for over 3 years. I've grown up alongside this technology. Even when I know I'm spending way too much time stalking my tribe, roaming the streets of my teeny tiny virtual city, engaging in other people's lives while neglecting my own; I still don't consider quitting. Never, not even for a moment.

I am not willing to give up the communication, the information, and yes, the validation. I love my Facebook friends and I admire my Instagram feed. Perhaps I don't need quite as much information as I collect, or perhaps I do. Perhaps mining for data on social media helps me to understand the human experience, bringing increased awareness and compassion and maybe (just maybe!) better writing.

I may be stuck in my own world of writing words and raising kids, but I do have social media as a portal (albeit limited) into the rest of the world.

I'll take what I can get.

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