When a friend request popped up on my Facebook account, I clicked on it and immediately noticed that this person had 2,000 friends. I found myself asking, Why haven't more people friended me? Then I had to wonder how I got to this place of competing, comparing and contrasting my life with others.
It's stressing us out
Digital technology offers us so many benefits. I appreciate the instant access to my kids through text messaging, and I enjoy the creative inspiration on Pinterest. But excessive use can stress us out. According to a survey of mothers by NBC's "TODAY," a phenomenon dubbed "Pinterest stress" is very real. Some women confess to endlessly clicking through photos, while other women feel the need to continually post pictures. This online life can be exhausting. It can also breed fear and envy. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest leave us with the moment, but rob us of the experience.
Our connection to friends and acquaintances through Facebook can make us feel loved and connected, but it can also trigger feelings of jealousy and loneliness. When we read posts about how amazing someone's husband is or how incredible their children are, it can make us feel discontent with our lives. So, why do we do this to ourselves?
We need to talk
Women crave conversation to sustain relationships. Unfortunately, the world of social media provides a lot of connections but not many conversations. Women have even expressed to me that they are better at their virtual life than their real life, admitting it feels safer when they have the ability to edit their interactions. Although this may feel safer, real relationships need to happen in real time to develop real intimacy.
Building community through social media can have its place, but we need to spend as much time as possible engaging in conversation and doing real-life activities with those we love.
Boundaries make a difference
I've found that the digital invasion can steal my time for personal interactions, creative thought and intimacy with God. Psalm 46:10 exhorts us to "be still" and know that He is God. This kind of stillness requires that we unplug.
The digital battle we're engaged in is for the heart of our family, so we need to put technology in its place by establishing digital boundaries. Some of those boundaries may include the following:
- End the e-day by 8 p.m.
- Live as though real relationships trump virtual relationships.
- Ban digital gadgets at mealtime.
- Limit checking emails or texts to once an hour.
- Take a digital "fast" every Sunday.
No need for regrets
Recently I was asked, "Fifteen years from now, what will you be smiling about, and what will you regret?" It occurred to me that I wouldn't be wishing I had spent more time posting on Facebook and Pinterest, texting or reading mommy blogs. But I'm certain I will be smiling about the kayaking I enjoyed with my husband, the deep connection I made with my friends and the road trip I shared with my kids. So, what will you be smiling about 15 years from now?
Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd is an author, speaker and counselor. She is the co-author of The Digital Invasion: How technology is shaping you and your relationships.