Day Sixteen: Mine Your Own Material
Scrolling through the examples for this task, one jumped out and said ‘me, me me!’ Amongst the suggestions for using your own posts on social media as inspiration for writing about how we now document and live our lives online, the one clamouring for my attention was how using social media feels.
This is something I think about way too regularly and still am none the wiser about! How exactly do I feel about the world of social media we live in and how can I use it in a way that works for me without the unhappiness and stress which so often seems to dog my relationship with it.
My relationship status with social media…well as Facebook would say…’It’s complicated’. I love and hate it, part of me enjoys the world it opens up to me and another part resents the time I use on it, the effect it has on my mental state. Looking at social media can so easily trigger anxious or depressed spells in me, make me feel isolated or sad yet it can also make me laugh, feel cared for and connected. Just what is a girl supposed to do about that?!
I am on the big 3 (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and have different issues/likes about them all. Twitter I don’t really quite get if I am honest, it overwhelms me and I can’t keep up with it. I dip my toe in it every now and again generally finding it not my thing and moving on.
Instagram is by far my favourite and one that brings the least amount of issues to the table. Sure I can occasionally get caught in the ‘how many likes did I get?’, ‘I wish my life was like that person’s’ etc and when I do, I step back and have a little break from it. On the whole though I find Instagram a happy, welcoming place to be and have found some of my most supportive friends there. I no longer try to catch up with everyone’s posts and have a little scroll once or twice a day, 9 times out of 10 leaving with a positive tummy feeling (on an aside, why are so many emotions felt in the tummy…or is that just me?)
Facebook is the big one for me, the one I really wish I could sort my feelings out for. I loved Facebook when it first started. It was a social place where people shared photographs with others, talked about what they were doing. It was like meeting up with my friends and having fun, except these friends could be at the other end of the country or even across seas. Over times though that has changed, Facebook has changed and it has become more bloated. I spend less and less time on it and when I do pop by for a scroll, my feed is full of shared memes (often at someone’s expense), articles, bad news or people arguing about the state of the world/the UK/the TV/whatever.
I am all for debate and think it is good that people do get involved in politics or protests and petitions, something though about Facebook seems to say to people ‘hey it is okay to be really rude and offensive’ I find this and the constant sharing of bad news or ‘shocking’ events hard reading and often leave Facebook feeling down or with my anxiety pushed right up.
Facebook to me is no longer about spending virtual time with my friends, ironically sometimes I feel like I am losing touch with them more and more because of it. I simply can’t be bothered to spend much time scrolling through all the stuff that clogs my feed and so miss seeing actual updates from people. Nobody seems to tell each other their news anymore, it is all ‘oh I shared it on Facebook’. Friendships no longer feel so special.
In contrast I have people on my friends list who I never really talk to or interact with yet I feel that I can’t unfriend them because of connections with other people. I’d like to keep my friends list to exactly that ~ my friends, yet it feels out of my control to do so. I know I can unfollow people to keep the peace yet it stresses me knowing they are there and I berate myself for not having the balls to defriend them.
This all sounds like it is obviously pointing towards a break up with Facebook however the situation doesn’t feel that straightforward (as life never is). Virtually all my friends are on it including many in other countries and I feel that if I left it, I would lose touch with some of them. I suppose there is the argument that is how life is, people come into your life and some stay, some move on. I like though that I can keep in contact with people this way, I like seeing what my friends in New Zealand or Japan are up to, I like the odd exchange of comments or likes. I want that connection, the question is can I have it without all that negative stuff? I am not yet ready to give up Facebook, I need to find a way of making it work for me though or I will reach that point for long.
See I told you I was all mixed up about social media! What are your feelings about social media? Do you use it and if so, how do you balance the real and online worlds in your life? Am I alone in finding it all such a muddle?!