Hello, my name is Zandria Schnur and I had an unhealthy relationship with a social network. No, this is not a joke, along with the good, I do believe that I have let a social network impact my life in negative ways.
I am quite an intentional person and one day I had a realization. I pictured myself looking back on the days when my children were young and remembering myself frequently looking at my phone: checking out a social network while nursing my baby, checking out a social network while watching a movie with my kids, checking out a social network while at family events. This is not how I want to remember my kids younger years or worst of all, for my kids to remember me that way. I want more for my life and for theirs.
My unhealthy relationship with a social network is not anyone’s fault but my own. I do not believe that the social network was always heavily involved in my life; it crept in very slowly over time. I first opened my social network account in 2005 as a way to reach my college classmates on campus, often to set up times for study groups or work on group projects. Back then we would still text other people to make plans to hang out.
Then the social network became a way to not only talk to friends at school but to also connect with people that I had not spoken with since we went to grade school, whom I had not seen in years. Eventually, it became a great way to keep in touch with my family that I had moved away from and then a way to make new mom friends in Cincinnati. The social network has brought many positive things in my life but I have also let it bring many negative things in my life as well.
There have been times that I have found myself sometimes comparing my life to peoples’ lives- writing my own story about how I think that their life must be based on a few pictures that they have posted. I have found myself at times, not simply just enjoying life experiences, but letting people somewhat validate how great my experience was based on the comments, likes, and emoticons that I received on the post about the event.
In my thirteen years on the social network, I have had at least a few times when a friend or family member was upset with me based on something I wrote. I have wasted so much of my time scrolling through posts of pictures and comments from people that I am friends with on a social network yet I have never spoken to them on the social network and vice versa. Many of these people, if we were to pass each other on the street, we would be lucky if we said hello to each other. When times get stressful and busy, I had often found myself living my life more through a social network rather than focusing on the actual world and the issues at hand. All of these things that I speak of have been over the course of thirteen years and not necessarily all in the present.
Once I realized what I wanted more for my kids and my life (less time and focus spent on a social network), I knew that I needed to make a change. What was the best answer for me? Do I delete my account and miss out on information about local events, miss out on hockey pictures of little nephew, or updates about my cousin who lives in Florida and just had a baby?
No, I decided that deleting my account was not realistic for me. If I deleted my account, I would likely create a new one two weeks later and the situation would not improve. I often work best if I give myself a set of rules to follow, so I decided to set up some boundaries/steps for creating a healthier relationship with my social network account.
- I deleted anyone who I had never spoken to on the social network. If neither of us cares enough about each other to occasionally interact, there is no reason that I need to know if they prefer Skyline over Goldstar, what cute thing that their cat did today, or what their favorite tv show is (and I am sure that they honestly do not care to know that about me either).
- I deleted the social network app from my phone. When I had the app on my phone, it was too easy to mindlessly check my account.
- I do not log on to my social network account when my kids are awake.
- I do not log on to my social network account if my husband and I are hanging out together.
- I do not log on to my social network account while spending time socially with others. If I am so bored that I feel that I need to look at my account, then I either need to get up and talk to someone, or it is time for me to go home.
- Whenever I think of it, I intentionally put my phone down out of the way. The funny thing is if I put it low enough that my toddler can reach it, he eventually finds it and hands it to me and if I put it high enough to have it out of his reach, I often forget where I put it.
These changes are not for everyone but by stepping out of my virtual life more, I have already seen an improvement in my actual one.