My oldest daughter came home from college for Thanksgiving Break. She actually surprised us by coming home early! It was super thoughtful and fun of her to do! One of those moments that make being a mom one of the greatest spaces to hold on the planet.
Since being home she's been talking my ear off, catching me up on all the latest, greatest news about her life at college. And you know I'm loving every second of it, because I haven't seen my girl in 6 months! She's really enjoying taking Psychology 101, and excited about the research paper she has to write over break for this class. She chose the topic of Depression and Social Media. Ugh! That's a big ole' area to tackle right there.
Listening to her helped me have my "aha moment" for where to start unpacking the subject of SHAME that I brought up in my blog, Bingo and the Shame Swampland. I thought, I'll dig into that social media topic too, and really mess with the favorite past time for many of us, by writing about how it's linked to shame -- that dark, soggy, boggy swapland of our soul.
Let's begin wading into the subject with the main reason we all typically use social media. Why to connect, of course!
Social media has become the main mode of CONNECTION for most of us in the modern world.
This is awesome! Right? Because God created us for connection.
We pop out of the womb screaming for connection! We need it to thrive mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Biology and neuroscience confirms that we're hardwired for connection and that how we do or don't experience it impacts the way our brains develop and primes our emotions for life, whether they're desirable or a little on the ugly side.
Well, what does this connection thing that we need so much of actually look like on a good day?
The explanation that sounded the best to me was formulated by Brene' Brown (Yes. Her again. I know it's a shocker.) from her research on shame that I found in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. And it goes like this:
"Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship."
That there's a powerful definition folks! Which makes it intimidating and seemingly out of reach.
So, this built-in need of ours for connection would then make the backlash of disconnection really detrimental! Right?
Yep! This makes it muy importante' for us to understand that much of what we're calling connection these days, truly is not. What?!?
Social media, for starters, our main go-to source for "all things connection", is actually disconnection in drag! AAAAAAH!
It makes us believe we're connected when we really aren't -- at least not in the healthy ways that matter.
In our technology-crazed world, we've confused being COMMUNICATIVE
with being CONNECTED.
But just because we're "plugged in", doesn't mean we feel seen and heard.
We've bought into the lie that who "LIKED ME" means who "LIKES ME".
Which also leads us to believe that the more we are on the social sights, the more liked we will be.
When in actuality, the hyper-communication really just means we're spending more time on Facebook than we are face-to-face with the real, live people we care about.
Think about how often you walk into a restaurant and see a family sitting there, waiting on their food -- the perfect time to be talking.
But instead, the parents are on their cell phones while their kids are mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or checked-out in a video game.
This defeats the purpose for even being together in the first place, wouldn't you say?
So, now we're measuring our value by this stuff...
I am only as good as the amount of LIKES I've gotten on Instagram or Facebook.
This is a really scary issue y'all!
Our children, who are growing up on a steady diet of unsupervised technology and absorbing the lives of social media stars as reality, are forming beliefs that an ordinary life equates a meaningless life.
In our kids heads, this false belief probably sounds like, "Because you're not a YouTube star, you are a LOSER!"
Long gone are the "Leave it to Beaver" days, when making top reader of your class or rescuing your neighbors cat from a tree made your daughter or son the talk of the town.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns us about the potential negative effects of social media in young kids and teens, including cyber-bullying and "Facebook depression." Facebook Depression? What the heck?
And the same risks ring true for adults, across generations.
Remember...shame has no boundaries, social class, race, gender or age limits.
Here's some scary info I borrowed from a an article in Forbes called, 6 Ways Social Media Affects Mental Health, JUN 30, 2017, Alice G. Walton.
Below is quick run-down of their studies that proves social media ain't real good for our mental or emotional well-being or our outlook on life.
Quite frankly, from what I'm learning, it's really screwing with our heads! See for yourself...
1. It is Addictive --
Studies conclude that “it may be plausible to speak specifically of ‘Facebook Addiction Disorder’…because addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be present in some people who use [social networks] excessively.” And studies have confirmed that people tend to undergo the same kind of withdrawal symptoms. You've got to be kidding me?
2. It Triggers More Sadness than Well-Being --
Other studies concluded that “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive 'offline' social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.”The more we use social media, the less happy we seem to be. So, the more we use social media, the less happy we seem to be?
"In fact, another study found that social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. Not surprisingly, it turned out that the more time people spent on these sites, the more socially isolated they perceived themselves to be. And perceived social isolation is one of the worst things for us, mentally and physically." Get out!
3. Causes Comparison with Others --
"Part of the reason Facebook makes people feel socially isolated (even though they may not actually be) is the comparison factor. We fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through our feeds, and make judgements about how we measure up, which is mentally unhealty"
"In the social network world, it seems that any kind of comparison is linked to depressive symptoms." Ya think?
4. Can Lead to Vicious Cycles of Jealousy --
“This magnitude of envy incidents taking place on FB alone is astounding, providing evidence that FB offers a breeding ground for invidious feelings. They add that it can become a vicious cycle: feeling jealous can make a person want to make his or her own life look better, and post jealousy-inducing posts of their own, in an endless circle of one-upping and feeling jealous."
"Another study looked at the connection between envy and depression in Facebook use and, interestingly, discovered that envy mediates the Facebook-depression link. So it may be the envy that’s largely to blame in the depression-Facebook connection." Holy Cow! What have we done?
5. Can Trap Us in the Delusion of Thinking IT Will Help --
"Part of the unhealthy cycle is that we keep coming back to social media, even though it doesn’t make us feel very good. This is probably because of what’s known as a forecasting error: Like a drug, we think getting a fix will help, but it actually makes us feel worse..." This is crazy!
6. Builds a Smokescreen that You’re Being More Social --
"A couple of years ago, a study found that more friends on social media doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better social life—there seems to be a cap on the number of friends a person’s brain can handle, and it takes actual social interaction (not virtual) to keep up these friendships. So feeling like you’re being social by being on Facebook doesn’t work. Since loneliness is linked to myriad health and mental health problems (including early death), getting real social support is important. Virtual friend time doesn’t have the therapeutic effect as time with real friends." Someone's gotta pull the plug on this thing!
Did you feel a little rattled after reading these findings? I did. But, I also felt enlightened.
I believe it's important to know what schemes the enemy is using to get into our heads and the hearts of our children, so we can start playing offensively against his trick plays.
I also believe that SHAME is lurking under all of these shocking concerns re: the overuse of and dependency on social media. It's created a new fear for our modern, media-driven culture (as if we didn't already have enough) -- the shame-based fear of being ordinary.
Because the core lies around shame -- WE ARE NOT ENOUGH and WE DON'T DESERVE LOVE AND BELONGING -- are woven within the context of all 6 of those issues above.
I need to wrap up this blog and I want to leave you feeling HOPE, not burdened with all these heavy facts.
So, on a practical level, a simple truth that we can find hope in, is that how much time we spend on Social Media is totally and completely within our control. Nobody is forcing us to do it. Right?
On a spiritual level, as Believers, our hope is ALWAYS IN THE LORD and our IDENTITY is found in His unconditional love for us. We have the power of choice to believe this. Yep, it's our choice!
But on an even deeper emotional level, to address the issue of shame -- of not being enough and undeserving of love -- I want to leave you with these TRUTHS to overcome those LIES.
Thank Heaven that the Lord has given us truth powerful enough to set us free!
Just like we're hardwired for connection, as I mentioned in the beginning, we are also hardwired for LOVE and BELONGING.
LOVE and BELONGING are essential to the human experience -- an inextricable need of all men, women and children.
When we don't get this need met, we don't think, feel or behave like we were born to.
Here is the key to LOVE and BELONGING -- for believing that WE ARE ENOUGH:
If we want to truly experience love and belonging, we MUST start
by believing that we are WORTHY!
Becoming confident in your worth simultaneously breaks the power that shame has had over our lives and empowers the belief that we are MORE THAN ENOUGH! Right now. Not someday.
Love, belonging and worthiness creates the connection we need to thrive mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually in real, life relationships -- not disconnected, virtual, social media relationships that have the potential to bring shame, depression and inadequacy.
I will be sharing more on VALUE and WORTH and we come to believe WE ARE ENOUGH, in my next blog, The Hustle for Worthiness. So, keep following!
If you'd like a coach to help you experience love, belonging and worthiness again, or maybe a life that you've never known, contact us at BeCourageousCoaching.com.