This isn’t meant to be a rant about how social media is evil, we need to destroy our accounts, or bash it to every parent we interact with. I have found so many positives in social media that I cannot discount nor discredit how it’s helped me become the mother I am. There have also been challenges that I’ve noticed the past few years that I’ve had to overcome in order to scroll without getting trapped.

I became active on social media in 2008, which was 5 years before Brooklyn was born and only involved Facebook. My posts were humor-based, super casual and usually involved what I titled “Train Updates”. These were my photos and commentary of bad behavior on my train commutes to the city. My “fans” loved them and it was quite an adventure through the years of taking secret photos of people and finding funny ways to describe their train behavior. Otherwise it was photos of my husband and I, my stepchildren, family events, work events, funny stories, maybe reality show commentary, super simple and full of humor and light-hardheartedness. I wasn’t out to show off, one-up, or compete with anyone, I was simply there to share as if I was talking to a girlfriend about what was going on. The comments I would get from my posts also brought me additional laughter, new material to ping pong back and forth with, and to connect with people I couldn’t in a live way. People I was close to at one time, but didn’t see anymore. Friends that moved out of state or someone from high school I always enjoyed talking to. It was a connector for me in so many ways. I enjoyed opening my feed but I wasn’t addicted to the responses. Each post I created brought me joy and I loved how sharing it brought joy to the person that saw it. Even if they didn’t click on the “like” button. To this day, 11 years later, I still have people telling me they miss my “Train Updates” and how they looked forward to them as I commuted to and from work.

When Brooklyn was born in 2013, she became a huge part of my Facebook feed. Nothing complicated was being posted. Simply photos on the day she was born and then from that day forward everything that I thought was random, funny and oh-so-adorable. I didn’t get super emotional with any posts and my commentary was simple and still full of humor. Things like her first fart, a random Elvis smile, her discovering and staring at her fist for the first time, how she was obsessed with ceiling fans, us being up at 4am and asking if anyone else was, along with some shots with our cats as they sniffed her head.   As she grew older, the posts became funnier and my writing went right along with it. Especially through toddler-hood. “Friends” of mine would stop me at a local parade or while we’d be walking around town and say “Brooklyn?” and we would obviously stop to chat with the fan that Brooklyn created.

“We just love seeing Brooklyn and all she’s doing. She is a riot! What an amazing little girl you have.”

No, I don’t think this is creepy nor did I ever feel the person stopping me was going to kidnap Brooklyn. What I felt and saw was pure joy and a person that was brave enough to introduce themselves and tell me how happy my posts were making them. I then officially met my “Facebook Friend” for the first time and created a connection beyond our phones. That’s what social media is all about after all, right? Making connections. Creating community. Making people laugh and bringing joy. Starting conversations and interacting. So where did all these goals go?

I created my Instagram account in 2012 and honestly I don’t even remember doing it. My first post was June 2013 with Brooklyn’s 4th month “Sticker on her Onesie” photo. When she didn’t know she could rip it off. Due to my lack of followers, it was liked by 2 people and had zero comments. Well, OK then! A month later, a super cute 4th of July photo with 3 likes. I was growing! Then later that month a photo of Brooklyn with a mustache I drew on her face. I didn’t post anything until November 2013, where I had attended a mom conference for bloggers, which I now realize it changed how I posted on my feed. I had just started my business as a Health Coach for women where this conference taught me the importance of my online presence with my business. I had never even HEARD of the concept of “Influencer” as I saw all these companies exhibiting at the event, to include big time ones like LG and Samsung. My friend who invited me explained that these companies look for moms with high following on social media to use and promote their products. Moms were a powerful voice in the world of family products and were being targeted to advertise on their high-traffic blogs and social media channels. Sitting at my banquet table, I laughed at my 30 followers on Instagram and 800 on Facebook as I pulled up women at the event who were in the 10s to 100s of thousands of followers. Not only did I not truly understand this industry but I wasn’t sure how or if I was going to be a part of it. As I listened to speakers and panels talking about the world of influencing, increasing your following, and how to use all of this in ways to make money, I was definitely fascinated. Was this what I should be doing versus the local workshops I was hosting in my area? Gosh they seemed boring and “so last year” as I listened to these women and heard my friend talk about how she was going to be doing this so she could be home for her boys but still be connected to something outside of being a SAHM.

My posts on Facebook continued to have Brooklyn as the show stopper but my Instagram was slowly taken over as a business platform. My Instagram page was splashed with some baby photos, but it became mostly health tips, supplement crap from a MLM I joined, local events I was hosting, food I was making, and just things that no one cared about. My following has never grown above 2,000 nor did I have any clients book me because of my Instagram feed. My Facebook, yes, I did see some leads from it but that wasn’t my goal with social media and all of a sudden I was changing how I treated and reacted to it. I was becoming addicted to reaction to my business-posts. Wondering and then obsessing why my business wasn’t growing. Back and forth on what I was doing wrong. Telling myself one day I needed social media, then the next I didn’t. Then I saw another shift, specifically in my Instagram world.

So why was I wasting my time doing it? Why wasn’t I bringing joy, laughter, and conversation like I was back a few years?

In 2017, I noticed myself in the face of the Instagram Mom Influencers. People I was meeting at events, events I was going to talking about the world of an influencer, and then connecting with them on Instagram. Not Facebook, Instagram. I want to say that I respect each and every woman I’ve met and encountered in the social media neighborhood. Many times I have loved their content and get so much positive information. Where my problem started was I wanted that high-powered life that I saw as glamorous, fun and easy. I wasn’t even focusing on the content anymore. I was focusing on how many “likes” their photos got, how many comments, and how fast their following was growing. I wasn’t engaging with mom accounts that would benefit me as a mother, or as a person.

As I sat un-showered and unruly, with a toddler waddling next to me in her diaper, the last thing I felt was glamorous, fun or that anything in my life was easy. Ummmm, let’s just say it was quite the opposite. Did I blame the woman on my screen? Ironically I didn’t but I did fall into a huge comparison trap and into a world where I believed I needed to be in that place she was. A gorgeous outfit, professional photo, smile for days, and makeup to match were the things I focused on. To heck with the actual content and to this day I don’t remember much of it. At times there wasn’t even much content, just a witty sentence about motherhood and how she was just jumping through the streets of her city looking like a million bucks.

It kind of depressed me. Actually, if we are really peeling the onion here, it depressed me a lot. Yes, it’s up to me to shower and take responsibility for my life and feelings. So they tell me. I do agree to some point but I also acknowledge outside influencers out there that truly affect us. We, as moms, shouldn’t deny the feelings. We, as moms, also shouldn’t let these feelings rule our life or ruin our own unique purpose. It takes time and lots of work to create a filter for the things around us that could bring us to a place we don’t belong. I should be able to scroll through a social media feed and find the photos that bring me joy. The posts that are learning opportunities and make me want to share them with my best friends. I want to be able to post something to simply bring joy to whoever sees it. Write something on Instagram to reach mothers who may be struggling at that exact moment they see my post. Interact with a community of mothers who help and uplift one another during hard times, and cheer on through all the successes. This is social media.

It can get dark for some. One may feel they need to 100% disconnect. Nothing wrong with that, I’ve know a few that have and don’t look back. For me, I love connecting outside my community and 4-walls of my home. There are posts that I pee my pants off that I wouldn’t trade for a million bucks. I interact with my French exchange student from when I was 10 years old, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.   I’ve read parenting tips, personal development, and mom advice that I hold sacred. So I’m not throwing in any towels, I’ve just learned how to create a filter and focus on what brings me what I need.

How? Well, it’s not easy my friend. I’m a huge personal development junkie and it became a passion of mine after I had Brooklyn. I’ve read…A LOT. I’ve gone to conferences and events to learn, interact, and grow. Listened to countless summits and webinars on wellness. Yoga and meditation became a huge part of my life, along with exercise in general. I’ve found amazing friends through the years where we talk a lot about becoming better people every day. What has helped me the most is realizing my core values, my inner strengths (ask people what they think if you don’t know), finding my true passions, and honoring the woman and mother I TRULY am. When we are lost with who we are as unique individuals, we search for the answers in others. In this case, social media feeds. It’s work, and you have to do the work, to find who you are and honor it. Then you can scroll without falling into comparison. You may even scroll past without even thinking about it.

Here’s to Finding You- and Honoring It!

Michelle Mansfield Blog

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