Living in peace on the social media stage Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Jun. 18, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

This past weekend, I attended a concert at an outdoor amphitheater. We had lawn seats and were among the first to arrive. As soon as we entered, we claimed our spot and waited for the show to begin.

Slightly in front of us was a group of girls in their late teens. They did nothing but take selfies for an entire hour.

It would be easy to criticize, but why? They were having fun and they weren't affecting me. What reason is there to pass judgment?

Witnessing the scene caused me to think. What happened when each of those girls posted several pictures to social media? Every friend who wasn't there received a barrage of images, showing an incredible time they missed. Combine that with every other message and image we absorb daily on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and countless other platforms.

It's easy to understand how all of us experience some degree of social media fatigue or feel as if we're missing out.

When we read a social media feed, we're creating a mental image of one person having a great time, completing dozens of activities. In reality, we're seeing dozens of photos of the same event, but creating unrealistic expectations of what we should be doing, based on what we see from others.

We need to change our mental image of the world around us. We need to step away from the fatigue and the guilt. We need to start celebrating what we do, not regretting what we don't. Most important, we need to accept that some things we do aren't exciting. They may even be unworthy of social media.

When we can make those changes, we'll discover how awesome we truly are. We should never feel guilty about doing what we want.

Who cares what others think? We should eat a meal because it's what we want to eat, regardless of calories, fat content, or whether it's organic. When we're done, we should be able to veg on the couch and binge-watch our new favorite show, if that's what we want to do. After all, sleep is acceptable.

There should be no obligation to check social media. I doubt we'll miss anything. If we do, at some point someone will tell us in person.

And instead of being jealous of what others have, appreciate the small things you have. We should be glad for the money we have. We should be glad we can pay our bills. We should be glad we can afford a snack, pay for gas. In the end, we should appreciate these little things we take for granted the most.

Only when we've taken these steps can we look at our social media feeds without fatigue. You may want to make small changes each year. Remove friends from your lists and add others. That's OK. It will help us remember who we were and allow us to celebrate who we've become.

Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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