Hey there, brave and courageous people. Again a bit late with my newest blog post (life interfered once more with my nicely drawn up schedule) but this one has to get out as it is a topic very close to my hear. Today, I want to write about the curious beast that is social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like.
We all like them but that is as long as we have happy and maybe ‘braggy’ things to share. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and I have talked with quite a few loss mums who started to have a love-hate relationship with social media after their pregnancy loss.
That really got me thinking and it is true – social media can be toxic at the best of times but it gets to a whole new level after loss. All of a sudden, there are pictures of babies and bumps everywhere. Happy couples and families greet us on every screen, tweet and post. It just gets too much which is more than understandable.
So I wanted to put together a bit of a guide and suggestions on how to deal with social media after loss. It is not conclusive and if you have even more suggestions do let me know and I can add your suggestions. Alright, let’s get started.
- Put it in perspective
The key to social media and sometimes surviving it is to remember that people CHOOSE what they want to share. What you see is NOT reality. It is part of their reality but not the whole story. The glossy shots you see don’t show the fights the couple might have had just minutes before. It doesn’t show the exhaustion they live with. And yes, they say they are super happy and most likely they are. That is just fine.
But where there is happiness, there is sadness, too. If those happy snaps pop up, remind yourself that reality will also mean a lot of hard and tough times and that those don’t fit into the glossy and braggy world of social media where everyone has to be prettier, better, happier or more zen than anyone else. Tell yourself that it is not always sunshine and rainbows for others – just like it’s not for you either.
- Turn to your tribe
Social media is not all that bad, as we know. It also offers a great resource of support for anyone in the baby loss community. There are Facebook groups, online forums, specific twitter accounts to follow for support and many of us turn to Instagram to find and connect with like minded people who ‘get’ it.
So when you are in a dark spot where social media can become toxic, turn the whole thing around and make social media work for YOU. Focus on the support groups only, reach out to the women you know will understand your struggle without much explanation and recharge your batteries by surrounding yourself with, well, – your tribe and your people.
- Change your audience
There are not really any rules or a lot of etiquette when it comes to social media. We block and delete people on a daily basis – it’s not always a nice thing to do but sometimes a necessary one. I actually really don’t like to do it myself. It makes me feel bad. But on the other hand, some people are just not good for us and even worse; some of them have actually bad intentions. They have come to your profile to criticise, harass and troll and to find joy in the reactions they get. Others are just notoriously noisy and are not there to help and support you. We can all agree that those people won’t ever be there to see us grow and heal but quite the opposite. If you feel bad like me about deleting people or blocking/banning them from your site or profile then remember this – it’s all about you now and you need to protect yourself. If there is any negativity we can get rid of then we need to do it – for our own sake.
- Take a break
Quite often after pregnancy or baby loss, all these measurements won’t cut it. It is just too much. Actual reality is a dark mess and virtual reality isn’t much better. If that is you right now then that is ok. It is what it is. At this stage, the best thing to do is really to switch off.
Take a break from social media, deactivate your Facebook account, and uninstall Instagram if you think it’s the way to go.
This might sound a bit drastic, given how connected we all are through social media and it is not all that bad. But sometimes we just need to take a step back, even from the good parts, and use the time we spend on a certain platform to look after ourselves. Don’t ever feel like you owe it to anyone that you ‘have’ to be online or that you need to respond to a comment. If you run low on energy and struggle, you need to turn your focus on yourself before putting yourself out there again.
- Self care, self care, self care
After any loss, but especially after pregnancy and baby loss, other people’s opinions and ideas on how to go on often distract us. Those around might want you to start trying for another baby straight away (‘at least now you know you can get pregnant’ and that kind of bullshit, also see my previous post on that subject here, https://karinholmes.com/what-not-to-say-to-a-miscarriage-survivor/) or they just refuse to acknowledge your loss altogether. Before we know it, we are caught up in their opinions and start to doubt ourselves, our pain and our ideas on how to honour and remember our babies. It happens all too often.
Add social media to the mix and all those opinions come at us by the minute and on different channels. That really takes a difficult situation to a whole new level.
If you are at that point then it’s time to switch to self care mode. Shut out all the negativity and unwanted opinions and do something that is good for YOU. Go and have a pamper session at your local spa, buy a nice book or get that make up you have liked for so long but felt you didn’t deserve. The world after loss can be a cruel place sometimes and we need to put our own set of colours into it. Remember once more that you don’t owe the people who think they know better nothing. Not one thing. But you deserve to feel better, you deserve to be looked after and you deserve to decide how your healing journey looks like. So put a stop to those things and people that don’t serve you and put yourself first.