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Is Social Media the New “Keeping up with the Joneses”

I love social media. I love the connections it creates, the resources it provides, and the news it generates. But I also hate social media. I hate the way it sucks me in and wastes my precious time. I hate the way it makes me want to buy everything I don’t need, from essential oils to a kitchen remodel, all because some random person I follow posted a picture. I hate the way it makes me feel like a subpar mom because I don’t take my kid to dance class, gymnastics, swim lessons, and then out to lunch at Starbucks.

Maybe I am being a little dramatic, but is it just me or is social media the new method of keeping up with the Joneses. 

I have tried and failed over and over to spend less time on social media. I turn off push notifications, hide my phone from myself, and purposefully forget it when I run out for errands. But at the end of the day after I put my son to bed, I sit down with my glass of wine and get sucked down the virtual rabbit hole. It starts with checking my email. I get an email from Patagonia and they are having a sale. I click on the link and end up on their site where I spend the next 20 minutes looking at expensive fleece jackets I don’t need and can’t afford. I close out of Safari and in a fit of frustration find myself on Instagram.

My social media addiction.

A lifestyle blogger just posted a photo of her newly constructed marble countertops and white cabinets. I walk into my kitchen to get another glass of wine and stare at my cabinets, original to our house which was built in the 80s. They are made of cheap plywood and are peeling in various places. I wipe down our ugly baby blue Formica countertops and continue to scroll down my Instagram feed. Back in the living room, my husband is watching the evening news. I say, halfheartedly, “hey, can we maybe remodel the kitchen this year?” Side note: I have asked this question multiple times a year for the past three years. He laughs because we have already had this conversation. I know the answer: No. We are saving for a downpayment on a new house and he can’t see the value in sinking any money into our current house that we will likely have no problem selling. I put down my phone realizing that although outdated, my kitchen is perfectly fine. It was seeing someone else’s shiny, new, modern kitchen that left me green with envy and wanting something I don’t need and otherwise would not have thought about.

I look back down at my phone and think maybe I will just buy that Patagonia fleece to fill the kitchen sized void in my heart.

To put a halt to an emotional shopping spree, I click on the Facebook app instead. I scroll down and see cute kid after cute kid, all doing fun activities. One of my “friends” (let’s be honest, acquaintances) brought her kids to dance class, out to lunch, and then to music class at the local library. I need to get my son into dance class, I think. I look up at my husband and say, “don’t you think we should sign G up for dance class?” He looks up at me again and laughs, “when is that going to happen? Plus G hates organized group activities!” He is right. I work days and my husband often works both days and nights, so childcare is a constant struggle even without any extracurriculars. Plus, we once tried to force our son into group activities and it only resulted in meltdowns. Our kid loves being at home and playing in his own backyard.

There I was again, letting social media make me insecure enough to do something I don’t have any desire to do.

As a parent, you want your children to have all the best experiences. I would love to sign my son up for gymnastics, take him out to lunch, and then go to Shelburne Farms, obviously holding hands and skipping along the way. However, I know my kid, and for him, that’s a lot of stimulation and he does not have that kind of stamina. Plus, these activities are expensive and if I am going to shell out the cash, I want my kid to want to have fun. Right now, I am perfectly fine posting a picture on Instagram of my son sledding in our backyard. Because to be honest, it’s what I love and it’s what he loves.  

So I turn off my phone and pick up my book. Maybe I don’t have white cabinets, a Patagonia fleece, my son doesn’t take dance or gymnastics, and I can’t remember the last time I went to Starbucks… but I am happy, and my son is happy… and that is a much better use of my time.  

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