Before I start…. anything that I make comment on in this piece is not intended to make judgements about other people. Which probably makes it sound like I actually am judging others. But I’m not. I’m judging myself. On the 8th of February, I began my self-imposed social media ban (read about it here). How did I go?
So Wednesday the 15th of Feb arrived and I had permission to lift my self-imposed ban regarding my use of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Yet, as much as I thought I would have been chomping at the bit to do so, I didn’t. It wasn’t until about 8pm that night that I relogged back onto Facebook for some admin work for my netball club’s team page. And then I scrolled down until I could scroll no longer to catch up on everything that had happened in the last week.
I missed some birthdays (if not for the Facebook alert, I would not have known about these birthdays anyway), didn’t know that a friend had a baby (luckily another friend who knew about my self-imposed ban sent me a screen shot of the announcement) and I missed the celebration of my little brother and I having been friends on Facebook for 4 years. I also didn’t know if my co-writer Toni was alive as she tackled her 102km Ultra-marathon, but luckily a friend let me know on Saturday that she had made it to the 72km mark and was on her way to completing the whole thing. But other than that, I honestly can’t remember what else was on there. Which kind of confirmed my suspicions. That I really didn’t need to be spending bulk time scrolling through stories which don’t enhance my day immensely. And so I have only been on twice since, and one was for a netball related thing.
I had a similar reaction with Instagram- I actually only logged back on Sunday morning when I was at the Riverside Tri to do some promotion of the event through this site’s account. I didn’t even really scroll down that far to see what was happening amongst those we follow, lest I miss the perfect photo to hashtag. Though ashamedly, I did get a kick out of the likes that the photos got, especially from others who don’t follow our account. It’s all in the hashtag I have learnt.
As for Snapchat? This was the social media app that I actually missed the most. And it is the one app I have yet to log back into. The Friday morning after I had stopped ‘using’, I had multiple brainwaves of things that I thought would be SO witty to post on my story, or to at least send to bulk of my contacts. The song ‘Peaches’ by The United States of America was on when I got in the car to go to the gym. My friends who grew up in the 90s would have loved that one. And it was already 28 degrees at 5:13am. My Melbourne friends would have loved that one. Or so I thought. As I drove, I humbly realised that my friends probably wouldn’t have had their lives enriched at 5:14am as their phone alerted them to my ‘moments’ of wit. I had numerous more moments like this over the week, even later that day when the thermostat in my car showed 48 degrees… I did message a photo of that to ONE friend in Melbourne who I knew would appreciate it. But otherwise, I just had to enjoy those moments by myself. Which then led me to get a little existential and question if that is the reason why I (and possibly others) enjoy sharing those random moments with friends. Is it because I don’t have someone at home to share the moment with when I see them later that day? Is that why social media is often so popular with those who live solo or not with a partner? Because we solo-dwellers/partner-less people also have moments that we DO want to share with someone we care about. But when that person isn’t there/doesn’t exist, is that why we look to our friends on social media to do that sharing with instead?
But enough with the heavy stuff. What did I do with all of my ‘spare time’? Turns out I made use of those 10-15 minutes that randomly pop up between events to bring in washing, tidy up an area of my house, tick off a couple of jobs for work or simply to just sit and do nothing. Other times when I had prolonged free time, I got to watch a series of Girls which I had been meaning to do for ages. And I watched it without checking social media whilst watching TV at the same time (something I’m usually guilty of. How much screen time stimulation can one person handle?!?!?). Waiting at the doctors for 20 minutes allowed me to revisit a copy of Good Taste magazine from 2007. That’s well before we used hashtags like #foodporn #rawfood and #jerf. Yet all the recipes were similar to what is published in food magazines now. They say fashion goes through cycles. Clearly so do recipes. I also had reasons to have genuine conversations with people. Instead of already knowing what they got up to on the weekend (from seeing it on their snapchat story), I got to ask them what they got up to, without having any idea. And the same went for them. I got to tell them something about me that they didn’t already know.
Whether or not I’ll stay off it forever is highly unlikely. As part of my commitment to my netball club and this website, I am required to access social media. And for those reasons, I do love the ability social media has to allow me to be in touch with a huge amount of people, near and far. But whether I need to be spending any more time than that on scrolling through what is happening in people’s lives….. well, the jury is still out on that one!