5 Signs Facebook Has Corrupted You (And What to do About It)

#selfies all day long.

#selfies all day long.

I've been very active on social media for years, I've even used Facebook to launch a business and was quite successful at it. In the beginning I felt I was thriving; I was getting traction in the fitness world, I was posting and blogging and vlogging up a very lucrative storm. I spent years developing a following and platform I was extremely proud of, but the more time I spent focused on my online presence, the more I felt my personal life was deteriorating.

Actually that's not fair to say, because although I wish I could take credit for the figurative slap in the face, I can't. Out of frustration, one day my husband told me he'd had enough. Had enough of not being able to look at me without the presence of a phone or laptop. Tired of asking me questions while my attention was elsewhere. Tired of me spending more time talking to people outside of the house rather than in. 

I protested. After all this was my business. A business that brought in an income. Facebook is engineered in such a way that if you aren't posting at least 5-6 times a day your visibility, and your cash flow, suffer dramatically, so how could I slow down? I couldn't let go of what I'd built. Then I realized it wasn't just the business that motivated me, it was the validation. It was knowing that if I was feeling down or insecure I could post a picture or phrase and instantly have people tell me how much they liked it. Loved it. That they loved ME and my face and my words and that was POWERFUL.

I'd also come to discover that I had social media related anxiety. If I went too long without checking notifications or responding to messages I would get extremely anxious. I couldn't break free from it, it was like a tether that I couldn't untie. I remember being on vacation looking for wifi to download emails and check Facebook messages and realizing that, woah, I'm not running a business here, it's running me.

Facebook had corrupted me. It made me value the opinions of strangers over those of my family. It gave me a false sense of ego, that I was somebody and that people cared about what I had to say.  

What I was experiencing is exactly what Facebook is engineered to do. It uses our very strong motivations to connect and to seek validation and gives us 24/7 access to fill that void.

Here are 5 signs you've also been corrupted:

1. You see life in terms of 'posts'. Hey I should take a pic of that and post it. I changed my hair I can't wait to put this online. My kid said something hilarious, I bet my Facebook friends would think so too.  

2. You get anxious if you haven't checked Facebook for a while. For example, you're on a long drive and are unable to use your phone. As soon as the vehicle stops you check social media immediately to relieve your anxiety. 

3. Social media has the power to ruin your day. Been in an argument online? Does it bother you enough that it puts you in a bad mood? Do you obsess over it? It's because you care too much about people that aren't really in your life. 

4. You find yourself hating the Internet and the people in it, but you're unable to stop interacting with them.  

5. You're jealous of people without Facebook accounts. You fantasize about being able to do that and to disconnect yourself. 

And that's the crux of it right there. If you deleted your Facebook account, NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN. No one would care. No one would notice. Because it isn't real life, it's an online life. One that you might have made a few connections in or maybe even a few friendships, but without Facebook those true friends will still be there. As with anything, Facebook has a powerful duality because you can, in fact, do wonderful things and develop worthwhile relationships. I'm not recommending you delete Facebook, or implying that the connections you've made aren't real, I'm telling you that there needs to be a balance.

Here's how to achieve that balance:

1. Only check messages or notifications. If it directly applies to you, respond, but leave it at that. 

2. If you see something that angers you, KEEP SCROLLING. You and I both know that no good will come from arguing online. Hide it from your newsfeed if you need to. 

3. Set a schedule. For example, only 5 minutes at a time, and only if your kids are sleeping. 

4. Turn off all push notifications. Don't let Facebook interrupt your day, wait to check everything until you actually have time to do so. 

5. Engage in positive conversations. Remember those good online relationships? Talk to THOSE people. Post on their wall with a compliment. Spread joy. Embody what you'd like to see online.  

Social media should be a positive contributer; a good thing in your life. If it's increasing your anxiety or you find yourself caring a bit too much about online interactions, it might be time to take a step back. Set boundaries and take days off from your newsfeed, see if it makes an impact. It's made a positive impact in mine. I make a bit less money and post a lot less content, but my life and relationships have improved significantly, and that's a price I'd pay ten times over. 

5 Fun Date Nights (No Babysitter Needed!)

Before kids. Ah the good old days... are gone and dead.  

Before kids. Ah the good old days... are gone and dead.  

When you're busy and you have kids, date night seems basically impossible. It requires SO MUCH PLANNING. Babysitters. Who's driving? You drank last time! We can't be home too late! $460 later you might have a moderately decent time, but date night can be easy and fun (and cheap) again with these awesome ideas. 

1. Video game night: two great choices for couples are MarioKart (duh) and my personal favorite, Diablo 3. Buy some junk food and beer, and game your little hearts out after the monsters are asleep. 

2. Pantry wars: feed the kids their favorite chicken fingers for dinner and wait until they're in bed to make a meal for yourselves. Pick 3-4 things from the fridge and pantry and challenge each other to make dinner Chopped style! Judge your dishes, loser cleans the kitchen! 

3. Outdoor wine pairing: buy a nice bottle of wine and find an appetizer to pair it with (frozen taquitos don't count). After the kids go to bed, put your appies together and sit on the porch or deck. Display your booze pairing prowess to your partner and enjoy!

4. Games night: pick your favorite board game or card game, bust out the fancy snacks (Chicago popcorn helloooooo) and get ready for a little competition. Our favorites are cribbage, Monopoly Millionaire (try not to get divorced), and Yahtzee. We also love Jenga but it's a little loud if you have sleeping brats. Errrr angels.

5. Massage movie night: a sexier take on the old standby. Pick a movie, and take turns sitting behind your partner for a nice shoulder rub. Hand and foot massages are equally awesome, and there are ummm more sensual options too. Pro tip: if your TV is in an area where your kids might be a cockblock, opt for watching on a laptop or tablet in your room. 

A Failing Grade: Women's Health Issues

It was a few months after the birth of my second son when I noticed my state of mind was steadily deteriorating. Things that would normally not concern me became problems, sometimes huge problems. I was losing sleep, becoming upset over nothing, and having trouble controlling my anxiety. 

Women's Health Issues

I made an appointment with my doctor after having some recurrent, pervasive thoughts about my son drowning or being hit by a car. Sort of normal fears I guess, except I was worried I would drown him by accident, or that I wouldn't put him in the car seat and that I'd run him over. Less 'normal' fears, by my estimate. It was a difficult conversation to have, like 'hey I can't control my own brain, what can we do about it?'. 

My doctor was thoughtful and empathetic, and we decided that medication and more frequent exercise would be a good course of action. A place to start. Months later I'm fortunate enough to say that I've overcome my postpartum anxiety and have been weaned off medication. I'm happy to be past that time, but man I'm glad I got help when I needed it. 

Since experiencing my own postpartum issues I've spoken to various other women about their post-baby struggles, and I began to notice an overall theme.

No one is talking about it. Openly at least. Sure behind closed doors or with family, but publicly? Hell no. And it isn't just postpartum anxiety and depression that we aren't talking about, there is an entire slough of women's health issues that just aren't discussed. Miscarriage, infertility, menstrual issues. We can't even sit through a goddamn tampon commercial without squirming uncomfortably, so what does that say about our societal concern for the health of women?

It says a lot. And overall it says we're doing a pretty shitty job of supporting women with problems that tend to go unspoken.

I know this might come as a shock to some, but our vaginas don't just show up when someone wants to have sex with them or when we're having a baby. They are part of our physical being and they require care and consideration like any other aspect of our health. The fact that talking about a period still makes most people squeamish is worth noting. It speaks volumes. A grown ass woman feels the need to carry a purse to the bathroom to hide the fact that's she's menstruating, but no one cares when guys talk about their penises because it's funny and acceptable and normal. Start talking about vaginas however and everyone is grossed the fuck out. Funny how no one is grossed out when they're in bed together. 

When I got the news that my second pregnancy had ended in a missed miscarriage, do you know what the doctor told me? Go home and make an appointment with your family doctor.

That's it.

She looked at me with the 'oh you poor thing' pity face on and sent me home to figure it out on my own. There wasn't a resource for information or a pamphlet on what to expect. So I went home and talked to my friends that had also experienced miscarriage and prepared myself for the physical aftermath (because let me tell you it's an AFTERMATH) all by my damn self. And the terrible part is I didn't even KNOW half of my friends that had miscarried until I miscarried, because they weren't talking about it either.

Since we'd announced our pregnancy publicly already I had a lot of feedback in terms of 'oh that must have been hard since everyone knew'. 

What? It was hard because people knew? No. It was hard because I lost a fucking baby. And in fact people knowing about it and my ability to be open through the process is probably what saved me from rocking slowly in my closet with a bottle of Grey Goose (I grieve expensively, apparently). 

We don't talk about pregnancy before twelve weeks because something 'might' happen. We don't talk about miscarriage and pregnancy loss because there's a tiny part of us that's ashamed, and society is doing a fucking terrible job of alleviating that shame by telling us we shouldn't talk about what we're going through. Saying we need to keep quiet is validating that we SHOULD be ashamed; that postpartum issues and pregnancy loss needs to be swept under the carpet and whispered about because it isn't 'appropriate' to discuss.

Well fuck your appropriate. As women we deal with an incredible array of health issues due to the fact that we literally create other people. Our bodies are designed to manufacture human life (and sometimes they can't, which is another issue worthy of discussion) and that comes with a whole host of complications, and it's our job culturally to support women if they're dealing with those complications. And yeah, they're scary and uncomfortable and graphic and emotional but the ONLY THING worse than going though them yourself is going through them alone.

Women's health issues aren't shameful or disgusting or 'best kept in private'. This shroud of secrecy can be isolating and debilitating for new mothers and non mothers alike. No one should have to suffer serious mental illness or loss on their own; it isn't about 'handling' it. It's about providing support to one of our most important resources, and that's our mothers and our daughters. We are so often caregivers and supporters ourselves, I think it's time that our community returned the favour.