You’ve seen it before. The self-exulting post or status update that states someone is “taking a social media break” and if you need to get a hold of them, you can text or call.
You’re first thought is likely, “I haven’t seen you since tenth grade math class. In what world would I need to “get a hold of you?”
But your second thought is probably more along the lines of, “Huh. Maybe I should take a social media break too…”
The heart behind a social media break is genuine. It’s really healthy actually. The decision to take a break is the result of recognizing a problem within yourself that your time on social media is not fruitful, and is weighing you down. It is all too tempting to compare our real lives to others social media accounts – it’s the digital rat race. Who can make their life look the most appealing online? It’s an easy trap to fall into. And we actively compare our real, gritty, sometimes boring, and rarely “Instagram-worthy” days, to others’ highlight reel facades.
Thankfully, logic gets through to us and we realize this isn’t healthy. So we think to ourselves, maybe I should just quit social media for a while.
From someone who has gone through countless cycles in the past of deleting my social media apps for a few days to a couple months, I have a secret for you:
Taking a social media break is not the answer.
Every single time I came back to social media, I found myself defaulting to the same posture of absent minded comparison, unknowingly allowing discontentment to grow inside my heart with every post I compared my life to.
His friends are cooler, her legs are skinnier, and this stranger I’ve never met before has more musical talent in their toenail than I do in my whole body.
Why didn’t my social media break work?! I would feel so cheated.
But lately, something clicked for me. And it has truly worked wonders.
I’ve discovered that when I actively choose to be thankful for someone else’s life, and the experiences they get to have, the less vulnerable I am to the life-sucking, black hole of comparison.
Bob Goff, my favourite author/ human being ever, has this quote: “The more beauty we find in someone else’s journey, the less we’ll want to compare it to our own.”
This time around, when I felt as though it may be time for another social media break, I tried something else instead. When I opened my social media apps, I would intentionally work to be grateful for other people’s lives. For me, as a Christian, it looked like praying in thankfulness for my friends.
So instead of: “Ugh, I wish I had friends like that” my thoughts became: “Wow God, thanks for blessing *insert name here* with an awesome group of friends.”
And you don’t have to be a praying person to do this – the whole point of this practice is to assume a posture of thankfulness, rather than comparison. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Because, the problem isn’t social media. The problem is our hearts.
Being thankful for other people’s lives and experiences is a true skill that needs to be honed, especially in our modern age of sharing our lives with the whole world via the internet.
I truly believe that the more beauty we see in others journeys, the more beauty we will discover in our own. And it all starts with thankfulness.
So stop reading this. Open your favourite social media app. And transition your mind to a posture of thankfulness for someone else’s experiences.