The Silence of Social Media
Throughout the years, my children have revealed that, at times, they feel badly about themselves when others seem so happy, organized, fulfilled with defined goals in mind and within reach. My children do not use those precise words, but their body language and the bits of mumbling that slips past their partially closed lips convey the message very clearly. There is a periodic pattern of this behavior after they have been on Facebook , Instagram or another social media source. They have made statements telling me that they feel as though they should be doing more, accomplishing more, doing better, be in better shape, have some idea of what they want to do when they are older, get higher scores, better grades, have different clothes….” Regardless of the precise words or their body language, if you listen very carefully amidst the silence while little fingers are swiping across tablets and phones, you can hear the angst of not feeling good enough. You do need to listen even when children are silent. Children say so much when words do not get in the way of their messages to you. I am fortunate that I can hear them, even if they do not know how to express themselves.
In regard to social media, it is ironic that technology brings people together and at the same time it can tear an individual a part questioning who they are and why they are not as good as others appear to be. Social media can bring so much good in the world pulling together people and organizations in attempts to make the world a better place. However, there needs to be an awareness that its use can lead to personal distress within an individual’s inner being. I recently spoke with my daughter about this when she was unusually quiet after interacting with her phone. This is what I said to her:
We, individually, live parallel lives with others, and if you look left or right into the lives of others and hope to see a reflection, you will never see yourself or live to your own personal potential. Focus on your path and what feels right within you. What you work on, do it well and with passion and the pieces will come together.
I am not certain if what I said was completely internalized. I am certain that afterward my daughter worked harder than usual, focused and went to sleep feeling good about herself.
I am happy that I listened to her silence that night.