Recently, when my wife and I ended another day together, I noticed something changing between us. We’ve both gotten into the habit of checking social media on our phones right before we fall asleep. She was looking at Instagram, and I was scrolling through my Facebook feed.
As I slipped into unconsciousness, I wondered whether this habit is a good thing. We weren’t looking at anything bad, but these social media rhythms weren’t even possible 10 years ago. Couples at the same stage of life just a few years before couldn’t have used technology in the same ways we do today, because today’s technology didn’t exist yet.
Constant access to social media is changing us. Here are three ways social media can be hard on our relationships, and what you can do to avoid them.
We are an increasingly distracted people. The next time you are at a restaurant or coffee shop, just do a quick visual survey. What percentage of people are staring at a screen? How many of them are with other people? Social media is powerful, and it has the power to draw our eyes from those around us and get us sucked into what’s on the screen.
Relationships suffer when anything steals our attention away. When we are with people we care about, we must discipline ourselves to not let our curiosity get the best of us. How sad to be with people we care about and show them what’s happening on the screen is more important.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” He was right. Comparison is a near universal temptation. We grow up comparing ourselves to our siblings, neighbors, classmates and others. We arrive at adulthood and find we never grew out of the habit of comparison, still finding reasons to compare ourselves to others.
Social media only feeds the fire of comparison, providing endless reminders that other people are thinner, smarter, cooler, wealthier, stronger, cuter and just all-around better than us. The wise person takes social media posts with a grain of salt. Most people don’t post their problems, pains and disappointments. Things are not as good as social media can make them seem.
Instead of comparing ourselves to others, let’s take time to cultivate gratitude for all we’ve received in life.
3. False Familiarity
Social media can give us a false sense of familiarity with our online connections. More and more people are connecting on social media who don’t have a real-life relationship, yet feel a level of intimacy with these “friends.” But this can and often does blow up in our faces. It’s easy to deceive others online, painting a picture in the way you think others want to see you. Social media can create the illusion that we are growing deeper in our relationship with other people when we really aren’t.
Remember that most people are on their very best behavior on social media. The way people express themselves on social media may prove a very foggy representation of the way they really are. Real relationships are built while living life together in community. Time spent talking together face-to-face and sharing experiences in community are better ways to build relationships.
Social media is a great tool which can connect us in ways that weren’t possible just a few years ago. But it’s important to consider how relationships are changing and take steps to ensure we don’t let social media hurt our relationships.
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