‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’
    This quote could have easily come about in the past few years, yet it is attributed to none other than Theodore Roosevelt. I don’t think he dealt with the constant bombardment of social media opportunities to compare oneself either. When I first heard this quote, social media is what came to mind. How often have you scrolled through the daily buzz on Facebook only to be left feeling inadequate in your life? Did you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast instead of a fabulous three egg omelet? Are you wearing yoga pants instead of something fantastic? I say these in jest, but those of you on social media are well aware of these posts.
    I could feel myself being sucked into a hole dug by too many comparisons, a heavy load of mom guilt, and overall frustration last winter. My Facebook feed was flooded with professional family Christmas card photos, matching outfits, smiles, evergreen trees, and hand-painted signs. I adore these pictures from my friends, but when I was scrolling down through one after another I could feel it overwhelming me. I was comparing myself to them. I haven’t had professional family photos done in years, my kids weren’t in matching attire, and for the last three years our family pictures have been taken with my husband’s classic truck. What if I wasn’t doing it right?
    I’m sure some of you reading this think perhaps this sounds quite silly; pathetic even. Yet, I’m sure that all of you have had moments of comparison in your lives. Something that made you question your parenting beliefs, made you feel like a bad mom because instead of giving your children the newest everything for Christmas, you stuck to a small list. You promised yourself that you wouldn’t give your children anything you were going to want to throw away in a week because it would drive them and you crazy. The advent of Facebook and the constant knowledge of what others are doing in their lives makes it all that much more convenient to compare.
    So I took a radical move. I removed the Facebook app from my phone. I still have an account, but now to access it, I have to log in. It isn’t quite as easy for me to mindlessly scroll through to the point of frustration, and in almost a year, I have only done it twice. My close network of friends is aware that I did this, and keep me informed of anything of importance. However, no one ever messaged me asking me where I went. ‘Why aren’t you posting? Why aren’t you commenting?’ This fact alone makes it clear that we really don’t pay too much attention to the lives of other people we are ‘friends’ with online.
    I chuckle as I explain to people that I took Facebook off my phone, and how it makes me feel so much better. The frequent response is, “I wish I could do that.” I smile and tell them they should try –– it will free up hours of their life. It is very clear to me that the friendships that matter are the ones I have in real life. The experiences I share with friends in the flesh are more meaningful when they aren’t posted on Facebook for the world to offer their opinion about what we were doing and where we were.
    Other than give me more time to read a book or sew a quilt, being a bit less plugged in has helped me ward off those peer pressure feelings that I need to be running my kids to this activity or that one. When you aren’t aware of them, you don’t have to go to them. This, however, is a double-edged sword. It seems that the world just assumes that everyone is on Facebook these days. From the school systems to businesses to coaches and instructors, they type a Facebook post and figure now everyone knows what the latest update is. I am now in the minority, as there are fewer and fewer people not accessing some form of social media. This is where I struggle. We as a society cannot afford to assume that every human is on Facebook. The humorous part is, telling someone so usually brings about the retort, “Good for you. Don’t do it. It sucks you in.” It sounds like an addiction when put that way.
    I already feel better about the approaching holiday season, knowing that I have limited my opportunities for comparison. It was truly stealing my joy last year. It helped me remember what things I hold dear for this time of year, and not be thinking about all of the things that other people are doing. I will take some pictures of my Thanksgiving pies, but I don’t need to post them to have others tell me they are good. The empty pie plates will be proof enough of that, courtesy of the people I love who are there with me.
    Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wis. Her children, Ira, 12, Dane, 10, Henry, 5, and Cora (toddler), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.