I’m a millennial growing up in a world where social media runs rampant. It’s an integral part of our lives. It’s the first thing I check in the morning and it’s the last thing I check at night. It’s wonderful to have a network at your fingertips but too much of a good thing comes at a price. My generation is contributing to growing rates of depression and divorce. It’s hard enough to stay happily married but social media is making it even harder. In my opinion, it’s because of three things: comparison, conjectures, and communication.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
The first and foremost contributor is comparison. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat make it so easy to keep up with the your friends’ latest activities. Sally is vacationing in Cabo. Rachel just got engaged. Joe just got his Masters. Sam just had her baby. While it’s wonderful to be able to see what’s going on in everyone’s lives, it’s human nature to compare yourself to your friends. Why haven’t I been to Cabo? When’s my boyfriend going to propose? I’m smarter than Joe but I only have a Bachelors degree. We have been trying to get pregnant to six months now and Sam got pregnant like that. These thoughts consume us but we do this to ourselves. Social media fails to depict the reality of life’s ups and downs. Our tendencies are to only share the good news and the good times. We don’t share when we have a pimple. We don’t share when we had a fight with our spouse. We don’t share when we feel lonely. Though social media can depict a perfect life, nobody’s life is truly perfect. Your spouse and friends love you as imperfect as you are and that should be celebrated rather than overlooked.
Another aspect that social media introduces is access to the lives of the rich and famous. I think I speak for my generation when I say that half of my Instagram newsfeed is made up of celebrities displaying their lavish lifestyles and rockstar relationships. My Pinterest is filled with beautiful, thin fashion bloggers with pristine hair and makeup who could make a potato sack look good. My Facebook is full of juicy celebrity news. For example, a few days ago, news broke that celebrity spouses Anna Faris and Chris Pratt were divorcing. My newsfeed was turned upside down with people sharing their sentiments of how “love is dead” because these two celebrities were no longer together. This world has come to idolize celebrity relationships as perfection or as we millennials like to say “#relationshipgoals.” No marriage is perfect and no way is it as easy as celebrities may make it look. Marriage takes work and the sanctity of marriage should not be taken lightly. The commitment to marriage is serious business. Some days are easy and other days it takes every ounce of patience to love your spouse when you feel like walking away. It’s easy to share those good days on social media but know that the bad ones still exist. That’s healthy. That’s marriage.
Social media fills our heads with conjectures of grandiose proposals and weddings and what marriage should be like. My Pinterest shows me dream houses that I wish we lived in and wedding dresses that I wish I got married in. My Facebook feed is filled with the sweetest “first look” groom reactions. And Instagram is full of photos of ornate proposals each seemingly looking to top the others. These feeds are not real life. My husband and I live in an apartment with our mismatched furniture from college and a dog who makes messes for a living. When I walked down the aisle, Nikko smiled big but I did not bring him to tears. Nikko’s proposal was well thought out, personal and sincere but we he didn’t rent a plane to write “Will you marry me?” in the sky. Our proposal, wedding, and life up until this point haven’t been quite like social media depicts it should be, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we are happy and love each other beyond measure. Set your own expectations for your relationship and forge your own way together. That’s what makes marriage so special.
Social media makes communication easy, but it also makes it harder to keep the sanctity of marriage. In today’s world, everyone you have ever met is at your fingertips including old flames, exes, and childhood crushes. The temptation is stronger than ever to stray from your marital commitment but stay true to your vows and the promise you made to both your spouse and to God. You get one chance in this life and your lucky enough to have found that person. Count your blessings and honor your commitment.
Another fault to using social media as a means of communication is that my generation uses social media to show love. We are pros at featuring our boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses on “Man Crush Monday” and “Woman Crush Wednesday” to make it known to the world how much we love them. We use heart emojis in our everyday text jargon and watch viral videos on our newsfeed of extravagant proposals and weddings thinking this is the love norm. But do we show our boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses that we love them in person? Do we spend quality time with them (without our phones)? Do we act selflessly for them? Do we buy them gifts from the heart? These are forms of love that must not be overlooked. This is the everyday love that keeps a marriage working even until we are old and gray. Social media won’t do that for us.
In a world where technology is an integral part of our lives, it is important to separate the perfection of social media from reality. In my first year of marriage, I’m learning that it is a continuous journey of learning from and about each other. It’s about joining together as one to better serve the Lord. This is a journey that is intimate and personal and unique, one that cannot be compared to or modeled after another. Remember to show your love in ways beyond social media. Remember to see your relationship as a blessing. Remember that this journey is so much more than what you see on social media so don’t make it the standard.