I have been dragged into the 21st-century. Yes, kicking and screaming — I might add! Who knew that building a business would mean building a social media empire too; however, that is where I find myself. Day in, day out — trying to view life through a little square box or turn random video snippets into a cleverly creative and cohesive anecdote on Instagram stories. I am habitually #hashtag-ing — whether fawning over Facebook posts or timely tweeting on Twitter. And of course, we can't forget the hours lost prolifically pinning Pinterest pins.
But that is not where I should have been last Sunday morning. My family and I awoke early and had a delish, nutrish breakfast and headed into the wilderness for a family hike. As we stood breathing the crisp mountain air, I noted that although the blinding winter sun was scarcely strong enough to warm our faces, it had managed to illuminate the sky to a brilliant shade of blue and there was not one white cloud in sight. The day was indeed perfect for a winter outing. The woods were magnificent, covered in a light coating of fresh powdery snow. And I couldn't help but notice that the sound of the occasional boot cracking through the crusty snow and the faint laughter of my two children on the trail ahead of me were the only things breaking the pristine silence. In this perfect moment, do you know what the most resounding thought was going through my mind? As I was clumsily fumbling for my phone inside my coat pocket, I was thinking, “I need to get a great photo of this to share on Instagram or better yet a series of shots and then I could post my first Instagram story!" Can you believe it?
Oh, my word — I don't even know who I am anymore! It was less than ten years ago that we had no internet, and just five years ago that I was forced to get Facebook, just to keep tabs on my children. Now my children are no longer on Facebook because, "Facebook is for people your age, Mom," and here I find myself, at my age striving to be the ultimate social media maven. Since the initial launch of Homespun and Hands-On®️, just two years ago, I will admit that social media has been forefront in my mind. If I’m in a particular moment, my initial thought is to capture, share, and then look to see how many 'likes' it garners. If nothing special happens to be happening, I feel pressure to stage a special happening, so I have something special to capture, share, and then look to see how many 'likes' it garners. And I'm pretty sure I’m not the only one.
I'm pretty sure that I love social media just as much as the next person — and okay, I'll admit, I'm pretty sure that I love it even more than some. After all, for me, social media is a vital part of growing a viable business in today's world. And I am grateful for the doors social media has opened and the fantastic people to whom it has introduced me. Had it not been for Instagram and Facebook, I wouldn't have ever had the chance to get to know Heather Brooker aka Motherhood in Hollywood, Rocio Ocampo at Mom Duty Blog, MaryAnne Kochenderfer at Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting, Amy Smith at My Four and More and advocate for children with special needs and their parents, Catherine Whitcher, M. Ed.
Social media platforms provide the modern-day version of ye ole tavern table of yesteryear; it's where we gather to tell our stories, connect with old friends and meet new. But last Sunday, the tavern table turned on me when my children felt that I was focusing more on sharing moments on social media, and less on actually experiencing those same moments with them. Had I gone too far and sacrificed our limited family together time for the sake of filling little squares with pictures?
I suddenly realized it really comes down to the simple fact that you can't be in two places at the same time. Oh, you can argue multitasking all you want; however, you can't possibly be fully vested when you're trying to focus on more than one thing at the same time. Think about how you feel if during a face-to-face conversation you're having with someone, that someone picks up their phone and starts scrolling. They might try to appease you by saying something like, " Keep talking; I'm listening. This will just take a second. I just want to check one quick thing." But you don't want to keep talking to them, do you? No, of course not. Aside from the fact that it's downright rude — you know they can't possibly focus their attention on what you're saying if they're on a cell phone at the same time.
I’m not suggesting we throw away our cell phones, ignore social media, and stick our heads in the sand. However, I am suggesting that we take a good long hard look at how we are using these modern conveniences and how they are affecting our lives. I know from last Sunday's hike that when I am sharing my most precious moments on social media, I’m not entirely and fully living them. So I asked myself this week, "What can I do to keep social media from robbing my family of our together time? Here are three simple things that I am going to try.
1. Capture at the moment; share it later.
It only takes a second to snap a photo and capture a memory. However, it takes several minutes to think up, write, and schedule a post on social media. Go ahead and take photographs at the moment, but take them for the memory, not the post. If they happen to fit into a post later, well perfect — you can add them to a social media feed at any time; that part of it need not infringe on your together time as a family.
2. Set boundaries for smartphones, social media, and work.
Determine times and places that can be 'phone-free.' You'll be surprised at how much life you have missed by having your phone with you all the time, as well as how little you'll miss it if you just turn it off and place it out of sight. There is truth to the adage, 'Out of sight, out of mind.' Also, try to work during office hours only; remember playtime should strictly be for play. Smartphones and social media play such a huge part in all aspects of life; it's easy to see how the lines between work and play can quickly become blurred.
3. Be more private with your together time moments.
There are lots of fantastic moments in life; however, they don't all need to be shared on social media. Just because that strategy works for Kim Kardashian, doesn't mean it'll work for you or me. Carefully consider and choose wisely those precious life moments that you do decide to share. The beautiful thing about not posting at the moment, as I suggested above, is that it gives you plenty of time to give careful consideration to hitting the old share button!
I will admit that scrolling through the beautiful #Instamom feeds in the past, I have felt somewhat envious from time to time. When my kiddos were little, we didn't have phones with cameras; we had cameras with film. Unless it was a planned event, most of the time we didn't even have a camera with us. Film was a hassle and costly to develop, and inevitably the majority of the photos you took didn't come out the way you envisioned. In spite of all that, today I manage to house thousands of photographs in shoe boxes, nothing more than fading colors and fading memories because it's too time-consuming to flip through the paper prints. How lovely it would be to have only the best and most worthy photos of my children, in a timeline of little squares for me to take out on my phone at the slightest reminiscent whim. I have often thought how lucky new moms are to have social media platforms like Instagram on which they can document motherhood.
Truthfully though, after last Sunday, I'm feeling somewhat the lucky one. I feel fortunate that I didn't have the smartphone and social media distractions when my children were young. It's difficult enough trying to juggle those things with family time now, and my children are all grown, young adults. Don't let social media rob you of precious together time with your kids. It makes no difference whether they are little or big, life with kiddos (who want to spend time with you) is love abounding and endlessly beautiful; however, it is also short-lived. Be sure to actually be there with them for as much of it as you possibly can.
Have you ever felt that you missed the entirety of a precious moment by sharing it on social media? Tell us how you learned to keep social media from robbing you and your family of together time? Pop your thoughts in the comments below.
Oh! And by the way, we'd be ever so grateful if you'd...