My niece, Lauren, is a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and has curated an album of the most incredible pictures from the most incredible places over the last several years. From India to Italy, Sydney to Stockholm, she has captured and posted shots that most of us have only seen in National Geographic. This past year, however, she did something that shocked all of us. She got off social media altogether.
At first, it seemed so very offensive to all of us who took such delight in following her journeys to exotic places around the world. When I asked her why she decided to stop, her reason was so compelling it made me wonder how many others would live more freely if they followed suit. Here’s what she shared with me:
I got to the point to where I was choosing my work layovers based on the Instagram-ability of them. I love the city of Paris, but I stopped going. Not because I didn’t love it anymore, but because my Instagram was ALREADY full of my photos from there. Somehow I had convinced myself that I needed to prioritize new and exotic layovers in order to “diversify” my Instagram feed, instead of the one place I really loved to visit. I began to stress constantly about stocking my schedule full of layovers I’d never been to—but not Paris. I would arrive at those destinations and head out with my camera, determined to snap photos of myself having “fun” exploring the new city, all the while longing to be enjoying my favorite croissant in the corner cafe I know so well.
If I didn’t get enough feedback and/or encouragement from my social media, I would suddenly feel sad and dejected. All that time, seemingly wasted. I soon realized that I was living my life for what others thought; for what I could give them through my travels. It was then that I decided that my life wasn’t a show worth producing for someone else’s enjoyment.
I deleted all social media (except Facebook—I’ve got to keep up with Grandma somehow!). I’m going on a year now, free from the pressure to perform and able to simply travel for my own enjoyment. Thanks to no more social media in my life, that croissant in my favorite cafe in Paris just got a whole lot sweeter.
Now, I am not advocating for all of us to get off social media. Nor am I encouraging anyone to stop posting. A large part of my business involves communicating via social platforms, and I rather enjoy the spontaneity of being able to share the funny and real moments of life. However, when it gets to the point of imprisoning you instead of inspiring you…when you no longer feel the joy of living freely and fully…it’s time to take a closer look. When we attach our value to the number of times someone taps the “like” button, we’re constantly bouncing between flying high and feeling less than.
If you find yourself wanting to detach from the emotional roller coaster ride of living for the love of a like, try engaging more with the people in your circle who KNOW and VALUE you for the unique and wonderful person you are. Before you spend your days allowing the world to TELL you who you are based on the amount of engagement you get for your thoughts, photos and videos, KNOW who you are in the eyes of God.
You CAN find that balance…but until you do, it’s okay to step back and take a break like Lauren did. A break from the comparison trap and allowing others to define our popularity or value may be the best free gift we can give ourselves today.
Want more on this topic? Check out my podcast episode, “How to Stop Living for the Love of a Like.”