Since I joined Facebook in 2006/2007 (can’t remember which), thinking it was a nice way to share photos with my Rotaract friends, social media has become a big part of many people’s everyday life.
I joined LinkedIn when I was made redundant in 2009, and I joined Twitter in 2010 to share my blog posts and updates on a three peaks fundraising challenge we were doing. I can’t recall when I started using Instagram, but I saw it more as an arty photo sharing platform than a social media channel.
But as all of those have evolved, and my networks have grown, they’ve just become a monstrous thing. Another thing to keep on top of, to check, to wonder about.
I’ve made friends and contacts through social media, I’ve got work through social media, I’ve raised money for charity through social media. I like being able to see what my Norwegian pen-friend of 30 years is up to, to hear about new events coming up locally, and to be able to share my blog posts with friends who are interested in what I write. I also belong to quite a few groups for support, on topics ranging from freelancing to being a mum, and these are so useful.
But these days I find myself resenting social media for the amount of useless irrelevant stuff I have to scroll through all the time, for the polished versions it shows of everyone’s lives, and for the sheer amount of time you can waste. It makes me envious, it sometimes makes me feel like I’m not achieving anything, and it distracts me from the useful things I should be doing instead.
I am from a generation that knew life before social media. We left university just as mobile phones were becoming a thing, before the internet really had anything on it, and a good 10 years before everyone started joining Facebook. We used to write letters and make phone calls to keep in touch with our friends. I have some friends who rarely or never use social media.
I am also conscious of setting an example to my almost-2-year old daughter. I don’t want her to think that phones and iPads are more important than engaging in conversations with real people. When I’m with her I hide the phone and iPad behind a cushion so she’s not tempted to play with them, and I don’t pick them up unless I really need to. And then I devote my time to playing with her, looking after her, or doing the stuff that needs to be done in the house.
Even with a bit of perspective, it’s hard to know where to draw the line with it all. How can I use the bits of social media that have value to me, without being distracted or frustrated by the bits that don’t add anything to my life?
An image from one of my photo challenges (theme: black and white) – I don’t post things in these as much as I once did…