This has been preying on my mind for some time now…
I have a real love/hate relationship with social media. I access Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on a daily basis and the benefits of doing so are obvious. Facebook is a great way of keeping in touch with the day-to-day lives of friends and family, especially those who I don’t get to see that often. Twitter is a great way of keeping abreast of what’s going on in the world, with breaking news coming through almost instantaneously. It also allows me to follow the lives of celebrities I admire. I use Instagram a little differently, in that I don’t follow too many ‘celebs’ via that platform, though I do follow a number of inspirational / motivational accounts which share great content that frequently inspires me (my motivational images and videos folders are now really well populated, mainly due to Instagram).
However, there are negative connotations to all social media channels and these are now starting to outweigh the positives. There are two key issues for me:
1. Presenting a false life
Firstly, please don’t misinterpret this as a rant at everyone who shares updates and images of the good times in life. I really appreciate seeing where friends and family have been on holiday. I love pictures of people enjoying great nights out or spending quality time with family (I’d like to drift through life as if it were a Richard Curtis movie – sadly it isn’t…). But social media, Facebook in particular, lends itself greatly to sharing just the good times. We all have down days in life, or times when things aren’t going so well, but social media rarely reflects this. I do realise that this is something of a double-edged sword too. When people go against the grain and post about the bad times or personal issues, it can be refreshingly honest, though there are also times when I feel the detail may be a step too far and should be kept in private. So, what is the answer here? I really don’t know but for me personally (and I’ve been guilty of this in the past), I’m trying to cut back the number of posts suggesting that life is all wonderful and peachy. It isn’t and there are many people in life who are either vulnerable, down or struggling (for a multitude of reasons) and I don’t want to add to that by suggesting my life is absolutely perfect – it isn’t. Though, other than writing this blog, I try not to share the more difficult aspects of life as I have no desire to do so. It really is a difficult situation to address and I doubt it will ever change. Facebook will continually be heavily populated by positive posts and perhaps that’s no bad thing. It’s just that I’m slightly uncomfortable with it right now and need to cut back on not just the posts, but the frequent revisiting posts to check that there are still people out there who like, comment and share. After all, why post if we’re not looking for confirmation that others out there are still paying attention to us? Surely the majority of us who use Facebook crave that ‘virtual hug’ which the odd like, share or comment provides? It proves we’re still relevant, that we still mean something to someone, and that we’re not alone?
2. I can easily waste far too much time on social media
A case in point. I took my daughter to her hour-long swimming class yesterday afternoon. I took my Kindle as I’m in the midst of a good book which I want to finish this week. I also took my phone. The time of the swimming class was 16.30-17.30. I spent the first 25 minutes keeping track of the football scores and refreshing Twitter to see the reactions to the results. I then spend 35 minutes flicking between Facebook, Twitter, and chats on 4 various WhatsApp groups. In short, I didn’t read a single page of the book. I got back home, thought about this as I was having my tea and felt thoroughly hacked off. I hadn’t really gained anything. I hadn’t done anything hugely productive. I’d essentially wasted an hour where I could have got through a decent chunk of the book. This isn’t a one off either, certainly not confined to a Saturday afternoon when the football results roll in. I do it frequently. I wake up in a morning and check social media as I’m having my breakfast. I check it whilst on the train journey to work (and the journey home). I check it as I’m making a brew at work. I check it when I’m on the loo. I check it when I sit on the couch for the evening. I check it when I get to bed. I know I shouldn’t be doing this so often but it’s a ridiculously hard habit to break. I estimate that I’m accessing social media for a total of 90-120 minutes each day, perhaps more, and that is utterly ludicrous. I have 400 e-mails in my inbox that I need to read or react to but I neglect those. I have enough books in my house and on my Kindle to last me my entire lifetime though I don’t spend as much time reading as I’d like to. I have a list of objectives as long as my arm though I still spend that amount of time, in an average day, accessing social media. It doesn’t really hit home when I’m doing it – it’s when I sit back and reflect on this that I really get hacked off. I beat myself up over this (metaphorically, not literally…) yet I still do it time and time again. At times, I hate my lack of will-power and drive. I have a short attention span anyway, making procrastination a trap that is very easy to fall into, though I absolutely need to address this for the (genuine) sake of my mental health and wellbeing.
So, to do that, I’m cutting back on my social media use. I’m not ditching it altogether – that would be crazy given the positives I’ve listed above – though I need to be much more focussed. I’m going to try just accessing it for 15 minutes per day, each evening, to check my personal notifications, share any relevant YYCDI or Lux Bay (the music duo I’m part of) content, and to quickly flick through the updates of my contacts. I may not stick to this, especially if there’s something important I need to share, and resisting the urge to take a quick look during the rest of the day will be very difficult, but I must try. I don’t know if anyone else feels like it’s an addiction of sorts but I need to address it. The older I get, the more I realise that time is precious. There is so much to do, so much to see, so much to experience in life. It really doesn’t sit comfortably with me knowing that I’m spending at least 10-15 hours each week glued to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So, apologies in advance if I have a habit of liking your posts and that suddenly dries up a little. It honestly isn’t personal – I just need to change things a little for my own sanity!
Thanks again for taking the time to read this – I really do appreciate it.
Until next time.
This certainly rings true with me. Keep saying we should not be on our.phones all evening but it is a bad habit I struggle to break. No one’s life is perfect and I totally agree with everything you said. Well done again. Made me think Mick and think I’ll put my phone down now! X
Thanks for this Shirley. It’s each to their own I guess, but I believe that I’m spending far too much time scrolling through social media channels these days – it’s time to really cut it back! Some (most?) people are clearly happy doing that though and that’s completely understandable. x
You make some very important points Mick. I do know many people though for whom Social Media is a lifeline. On a personal note I do try and monitor my usage and focus on friends, family and my interest in Art, Social History and Deltiology. I particularly don’t like seeing people in Cafes supposedly meeting each other yet all of them on their phones tapping away🤓
Thanks Eddy. I can fully understand why social media is a lifeline for some and it certainly has it’s benefits and good points. However, for me, I just found I was diverting to it far too often, quite often on auto-pilot too. I fully agree with your cafe scenario – really winds me up…
Agree ..I have turned off notifications and aim to look at social media 2 a dayv
Sounds very similar to me Alison.