Many parents who have children with special needs may have a difficult time going on social media platforms, especially Facebook. The reason for that is because while the parents are struggling, they become bombarded with updates from their friends who seem to be having it much easier. I want to stress that the keyword here is seem. In fact psychologists have said that Facebook envy is very real and is a major issue that comes up for a lot of people regardless of what is happening in their lives. For instance, it can be very upsetting to see your friends post their vacation pictures while a vacation for you is not in the cards in the foreseeable future no matter how desperate you are for one. Another example that is upsetting for parents in this position is seeing a friend of theirs brag about how his or her 4 year old held an adult conversation with someone, while the parents’ 4 year old with autism has no speech. You understand how Facebook can easily make struggling parents even more depressed about their situation.
The fact of the matter is, most of the world is on Facebook, and other social media platforms now. Social media is a crucial platform for communication in today’s world. May parents with children who have special needs feel isolated enough. I personally believe that completely staying away from Facebook is not a good idea. However there is good news on how to make the experience fun and engaging instead of torturous.
If you have friends who are traveling, or who are talking about their typically developing kids, or are sharing anything else that makes you feel bad- you don’t need to unfriend them unless you feel it is necessary. You can unfollow them instead, so this way you don’t see their updates at all. You just go on the individual’s profile, and on the upper right area of the page, you have a choice to unfriend or unfollow. Only follow your friends who are going through the same or similar struggles as you are- or anyone else who will not make you feel bad in anyway. This way, you will see their updates and if they are in need of some encouragement and support, you are there to give it to them just as they would do for you. However, the best reason to stay on Facebook is for the groups.
There are millions of excellent Facebook groups around that will fit your needs and connect you to the right people, who are going through the same experiences are you- and who may even lead you to great resources. You can build up some powerful networks. You can even find local groups on Facebook for parents in the same situation as you. Or if not, why not create one? Just do a search on a topic that is relevant to you, and you will be amazed at how many groups come up. Do you see why that leaving Facebook is not recommended? Remember there are plenty of others in a similar position that are looking to connect with you as well. Facebook is a great place for that, and this is how you can make the most of this platform.
I also want to bring something else up that I had briefly touched on earlier in this post. When I said that your friends who are not sharing the same struggles as you seem to be having a good life, based on what they share on Facebook- I can guarantee you even though their lives may be very different from yours, they are not having a perfect time either. Yes, maybe some may have more freedom than you do right now anyway. Maybe parents of typically developing children have less stress (or a different type of stress anyway). But one thing I can promise you is that everyone is struggling with something. What people post on Facebook does not show what they are really going through in life. Many people do like to show off. Most don’t do it intentionally to make others feel bad. They just do it, and remember that. That being said, you know you don’t have to watch it either, so just unfollow them. Don’t let Facebook envy prevent you from making the best use of Facebook for your purpose.