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Social Media. The limitless hole.

How has social media changed the way you view and interact with others? Friends or acquaintances. Family or colleagues. Do you use social media as a place to run your business? Do you use it to keep up with friends and family? I am in a place of needing to redefine social media's purpose for me. My reasoning? It is too much and too little all at the same time.

Many of these early reflections will have a hint of a "pandemic life" touch to them because it is still very much current. Remember what I said about being somewhat of a homebody? The world today has been eye opening for a person like me who is content in spending time alone. BUT we all want to interact with another and have a meaningful conversation at some point! When we get to that point and options are limited, we turn to the easiest place, cyber space. The options suddenly become limitless. I would be sitting on my couch after having my head in a book or TV show and start the process of scrolling. You do it too, right? Start on Instagram to be greeted by "Instagram vs Reality" and thinking, "What are you people talking about?! Why can't Instagram BE reality?" Then hop over to Facebook to read someone's 200 page long opinion about _______ (insert literally anything) and so you switch back to Instagram, with the hopes of seeing a few happy pictures with less feelings and opinions. Then, 400 posts later realize an hour has gone by and you have no idea what year it is. Just me? Oh, okay. The limitless options become a deep dark, limitless hole. Don't get me wrong, it is not all dark. Many of you post pictures of your babies and your puppies. Thank GOD for the babies and the puppies. God is coffee. God is running. God is the babies and the puppies.

There have been realizations from "pandemic life" that the ways we use the virtual world have the great ability to connect us TO each other. They also have the grave ability to debilitate us away from ourselves. Do you have that little iphone pop up that tells you how much time you have spent on your phone in a week? I aim for this to be a place of vulnerability, but not yet brave enough to share what some of those pop ups have told me. Yikes. To think, I am also a person who enjoys reading a book, writing and running outside. What might the "pop up" of those who do not enjoy these things tell them? Aside from spending way too much time on a screen, I am feeling debilitated by social media because of what it now stands for. It stands for individualism. It stands for being a place to state an opinion. It stands as a place for people to laughably hide behind a screen and boldly say what they are thinking about another person, no matter that it will absolutely hurt feelings. It stands for a place of comparison. It stands as a place of NO consequences. Those who have stated opinions and have had their opinions removed by the "facebook police" might disagree, but in my experience of seeing that happen, the "consequences" do not fit the "crime." No lessons learned. And so, the circle of social media life continues.

God created me to be an empath. I may not always go straight to showing empathy in any given situation. I'm human. Experience has taught me, God will always get me there. For me, empathy is a landing place. To see another's point of view and "seek to understand." It is a great strength. It is also a great weakness. It is a great weakness when I let my empathy take over. I feel your feelings as my own. I understand someone who is not being heard. I make myself smaller so that you can be bigger. No, that isn't always a bad thing and can be to the benefit of all if others gave it an honest try. What do empathy and social media have to do with each other? For me, everything! It is like reading a really good book. You get to know the characters, lean into the plot and the next thing you know, you're living it with them. You share your story to Facebook or Instagram and I am right there with you! I am following along and want to know what happens next. "But where did the puppy go? Did the puppy enjoy your instagram worthy picture of a walk?" In the end though, it is your book, not mine. I have to exit your story and return to mine. Invested in your ending, which is always followed by, "Where was I?" Sometimes and more debilitating, "What am I doing that is instagram worthy?"

There was one day around Christmas time where I was in the worst mood and I could not figure out why. Everything was bothering me. A tiny inconvenience felt like the end of the world. My day at work resulted in very little productivity and a whole lot of frustration. Once at home, I decided what I needed was a nap. I woke up with a headache and the foul mood still looming. What had I done that day to warrant this? I'll tell you exactly what. I'd spent too much time that morning looking at all the most recently posted pictures of perfection. I'd read several articles of opinions arguing. Then, I did what we all know we're not supposed to do. I scrolled the comments. This was one of the many moments of realization that the virtual world was not connecting me TO you, but away from myself. I was feeling your feelings as my own. I was sucked into comparing myself to you. So, I took a break for a week. Do you know what happened? NOTHING. I missed nothing. I wasn't taking on other people's feelings and opinions. I wasn't reading article after article and opinion after opinion about the huge stakes, runoff election. (Who said it was a good idea to add that to December/January?!) I wasn't looking at all the picture perfectness, sucked into the comparison phenom and feeling my own sense of "less than." If I was looking for information about something, I looked elsewhere. If I wanted to have human interaction, I reached out to my people. Seriously. I didn't miss a thing. I've entered the New Year in a frame of mind that feels so much more capable because of my social media break.

Jettie Beth, because of your social media break, you've created another social media account? I've created @jettiebethjustbits as a reflection of this blog and a space to share only the things I want to see in the midst of all else. I have a feeling I am not alone in wanting more puppies and babies, if you will! I don't have either of those, but I do have God. If you follow @jettiebethjustbits on Instagram, you will see pictures of "just bits" of things that bring me peace, calm and goodness, God. A sunset or sunrise. Nature. Water. Scripture. Those are a few of the things that bring me peace, calm and goodness. It is my hope to break up the views of comparison, "Instagram vs. Reality", the pressure to keep up. So, if you need a break from those, follow my new Instagram!

I'm also using this as a time to redefine my purpose of using Facebook and Instagram by setting some boundaries. You can keep me accountable! I will not be scrolling through and wondering what comes next for the social media version of you. That is not to say I do not care or truly want to know what you're up to! It just means I want to learn about you and interact in a more authentic, intentional and personal way. Even in this highly digital world, I think it is possible. I think it is necessary.

Vulnerability and authenticity welcome goodness. Right now, vulnerability and authenticity look like sharing my life in a new way, through writing. I will share my stories here. I will answer your comments and your own reflections, if you feel welcomed to share. (I hope so!) I am also happy for you to reach out, "Hey! Tired of being a homebody today? Let's do something!" I vow to show up unattached to my phone and attentive to you. My challenge to you though... skip the small talk. Show up as your most authentic self, not the social media version. Ask me a bold question and be prepared to answer it for yourself. Maybe you crave meaningful conversation like I do. Maybe my own vulnerability will help you find yours. Remember, it welcomes goodness.

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I am dependent on social media for work. It is a key part of our business. I dread when the weekly notification comes on like clockwork on Sundays about screen time the past week. I always wonder, How else could those hours have been spent? How much of that was spent on my phone for work, and how much was spent as a mindless waste? I think there is a way to have a healthy relationship with social media, and that healthy balance definitely requires distance / breaks from it. At least for me! There are some days I've been so in the IG weeds for work that I don't have the energy to login to my own account for…

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