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facebook : the gateway drug

how to design social media to add value to your life

can i get a show of hands from any of you who struggle on any level with facebook? maybe it’s just me but if you sometimes question whether you need therapy because of something facebook related i would be thrilled if you would just raise your hand in solidarity with me wherever you are, right now. just do it. you know you’re part of the team {unless you’re one of the few survivors who never went on facebook & then you can go ahead and give yourself a little pat on the back since you all ‘told us so’ from the beginning}.

but for the masses, just go ahead and raise your hand because you know you belong. it’s constant! this fantastic facebook wonder-mess. and please don’t misunderstand: it’s not facebook’s fault. it’s just the petri dish of our messy human-ness, up close and very personal.

in the beginning i remember facebook was just so FUN! it started harmless and social and so exciting! catching up with old friends and acquaintances from across a lifetime, family members far away, a gathering place to share, connect and reconnect. it sounded perfect {minus all the time we lost}. but quickly facebook turned grey. it became a place riddled with both deliberate and unintentional mixed messages, misunderstanding and crazy passive aggression. it’s the new gateway drug to insecurity, jealousy, competitiveness, brattiness, pettiness, bragging and out and out lying. and sometimes meanness. just plain old fashioned meanness. an ugly reality openly on display.

i wonder how we got here. i wonder how and why we gave it so much power.

we contemplate and compose status updates whatever we’re doing and then calculate our worth by the number of likes we get. we send cryptic and passive aggressive messages with status updates, wall posts, photos, and what and whom we choose to ‘like’. teenagers lose sleep checking news feeds and updates throughout the night and ‘facebook depression’ is becoming a very real and unfortunate part of our culture. we carry our phones constantly, checking in while we drive, at a red light, with friends, at dinner, even when we’re going to the bathroom! we hide. we lie. we spy. and we misunderstand. we judge. we misjudge. we hurt. and we get hurt.

not cool fb

do you remember life pre-facebook? it’s so ingrained in our lives that it’s already hard to remember what life was like without it. part of me longs to go back to life ‘before.’ before the thumbs up. and yet there are many, many positive elements to facebook that i value and love. in fact, it’s the mechanism by which this {and many other incredible} blogs grow and evolve.

so, how do we disconnect a little more from social media and take back the power we so freely gave away? how do we learn to manage it so that it can be more fun again and, more importantly, add value to our lives?

i’m not certain of the answer but i’ve got a few thoughts:


i think we must first look at our friends and our feeds. the people who are hurting or annoying us have to go. if you don’t want to de-friend them, just block them from your feed where they can’t provoke you. follow people and blogs who are positive and inspirational, who make you think and feel better about life. just like i believe you get to design your life, you for sure get to design your feed. choose with intention. choose wisely! it doesn’t mean you don’t love and care for the people you stop showing in your news feed, but if they constantly get you down or make you feel negative about life or yourself, that’s not healthy! what i’m saying is you must intentionally choose the people you allow to influence you. the ones you let into your head. believe it or not, that’s the easy part.


be an example. be thoughtful. courteous. remember to THINK: is it Truthful, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary, and is it Kind? if not, then forghedaboudit {a little shout out to the late james gandolfini}.

and realize that it’s pretty certain that at some point we will hurt someone unintentionally with a photo or status post. we can’t know what every person is going through and what we might say that accidentally offends, irritates, or picks at a wound. what we’re talking about here is intentionality and patterns of behavior. you know your heart, your motives. you know if you’re posting something to hurt another person or if you’re just excited about something happening in your world. you’re free to be happy about your life and share it!


this last thought is the hardest part and requires a bit more grit. i honestly can’t say i’ve got it down myself {or ever truly will}, but i know the process begins by living with our whole hearts. it’s the scary thing but it’s always the right thing. when we come from a place of wholeness, no matter what we say in our status update or in our conversations with others, we know we are enough. no matter the number of ‘likes’ or the response from the other person, we are confident in ourself. we know our truth, we accept our failures, missteps, and mistakes. wholeness comes from living authentically and real even when it’s hard. especially when it’s hard. when we lean into discomfort we find our true self, the truest part of our self. it’s when we reveal our true, flawed, humble and vulnerable selves and say “here i am, this is me.” and if they don’t ‘like’ it, that’s okay. because we must be true to our heart and our spirit first. it is us. and we are more than our likes, more than our number of friends, more…so much more than this crazy social media world that we live in. it’s just not real. and so we have to fight to be real in an unreal reality.

so what do you say? join me in an effort to be intentional with social media. here’s my plan:

social media cheat sheet

how about you: how do you stay real and whole in this crazy social media world?


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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Tina June 21, 2013, 3:29 pm

    This is exactly what I did! Well said

  • Noelle June 29, 2013, 12:16 am

    Tammy, I can say I don’t go on there at all since from the very start I got a bad vibe from it, but it’s funny I am reading The End of Your Life Book Club right now and the author’s mother put it very succinctly, it all starts with small cruelties and when I think of that in so many places it just snowballs into something bigger and meaner. We all need to step back and remember that being kind and gentle are the most important things. Thank you Tammy you are so insightful.

    • Tammy June 29, 2013, 6:02 am

      small cruelties. that is it. i need to read that book too… xoxo

  • Yolanda July 27, 2013, 2:57 am

    I don’t really use Facebook on a regular basis. After a deeply hurtful experience by someone close to me. The person didn’t tell the woman he met about his life in our city. I let him know I saw him post looking for a relationship, and it let me know to stop trusting him. Some people don’t use it for deception, or to hurt others, or to abuse anyone. It can be positive, if people choose it to be. I hope more people will use it to be a support, or to connect in a peaceful manner, or use it to contact those they know, or just to be a part of an Internet group. I have seen relatives pictures, and said hello to a person who left town. I just don’t use it to relate like some do.

    • Tammy July 27, 2013, 4:02 am

      I am so sorry you had a hurtful experience Yolanda. I completely agree with you it can be an incredible tool to connect and reconnect with family and friends. It’s all in how we use it. Blessings!

  • Ashley August 6, 2013, 1:29 pm

    Raising my hand! Ugh.

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