… But Aren’t We All?
Hello everyone, my name is Emma and I am an addict. There I have said it. Hopefully now that I have bared my deepest and darkest secret, maybe a few of you will feel just a little less guilty about joining me.
Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and feel right at home, because let’s face it. If we were 100% honest with ourselves, more than a few of you are just as guilty as me. I know you are.
How do I know this? Well, for starters, you are reading this article. Which means, according to our illustrious leader and editor, that you are most likely reading this on a mobile device. I can also guess that a large percentage of you are avoiding either actual work, postponing those all-important household chores, or even ignoring your gorgeous (but ever so irritating summer holiday fuelled children) to read this.
Don’t worry – I am not judging you. Not one tiny little bit. You see, if I am honest, I am doing all of the above just to write this little morsel for you, knowing fine well that it will help my obsession with social media when I inevitably check a million times throughout the day to see how many or you read, engaged or even commented on my insane ramblings.
So – for the purpose of clarity, understanding and in the hope of future friendship, can we all just agree that we are indeed in the same camp.
There we go! Introduction over…
I’m a Social Media addict. A junkie. And it certainly isn’t always pretty.
When did it start? This obsession with Social Media. I’m not sure when it became such a preoccupation. I guess like any other addiction, there is no clear day that it turned from a hobby to an obsession. There was not one single day that I remember the balance of the scales tipping. I do however remember someone showing me a travel blog way back in 2005 (Jesus, is it really possibly that was 13 years ago?) while I was travelling in Thailand.
At the time, I had never heard the word ‘blog’ before, but keen not to be left behind during the influx of new medias, I quickly signed up as a ‘follower’. Let’s get real here, even that word feels inclusive. From the very beginning these clever people knew how to hook us. “Come follow us, we are wise and intelligent. Follow what we say and you will become enlightened.” We never stood a chance really did we?
I got swept up in the craze initially and posted a few posts but to be honest, my enthusiasm waned rather quickly.
Smartphones weren’t around back then (I know – shock horror folks, blogs were around before iPhones! I was around before iPhones! I must be a true dinosaur right? Well, just for the benefit of you millennials out there, no sweethearts, you did not invent the idea of social media blogging, us dinosaurs were at it well before you were.) Back before the time of smartphones, one had to find an Internet café (remember them?) and sign on to laboriously slow and now seemingly huge computers, and the connection wasn’t always great – this was back when everyone could recite the sound of a modem.
Facebook, although already created, was not widely known about and was at that time only available within some Universities in the US.
I was a member of something much cooler! Friends Reunited. A British site that was the first social media online network to gain notoriety in the UK. But really it was just way to ‘stalk’ those old school and college friends and find out what they were doing now. An online reunion site that allowed you to tell everyone how fabulous you were doing now, without having to have the awkward conversations face to face about how much weight you had put on, or how many boyfriends had dumped you. It didn’t have any of the layers of versatility that we have come to expect in our modern Social Media, but back then; anyone who was anyone was on Friends Reunited.
That may well have been the beginning of the end for me, fast forward to today, and I am hooked, well actually I would say I’m addicted to Social Media.
Social media basically forms the major books ends to my day.
What is the very first thing I do when my eyes open in the morning? I reach for my phone and check my Facebook. Let’s face it; we check it before we check the news, because if anything important is happening in the world, it’s bound to be on FaceBook with opinions and views on the topic to go with the news story. It’s so much more interesting than switching on Sky News.
It is also the very last thing I do each night after checking on my sleeping children. I slip under the duvet, switch off my light and then I ‘glance’ at Facebook just in case I have missed something vital.
But, the book of face is not the only social media to be taking over my life. More recently I have further compounded this infatuation by adding more vines of its suffocating snares into my life.
I joined Instagram.
Now, in my defence, I have justified to myself that I need it for my business… but I now have three Instagram accounts to go with my three separate businesses.
Then of course I am on LinkedIn, but since leaving the corporate world four years ago, I have only dabbled occasionally in that sphere.
So far I have resisted the pull of Twitter and Snapthat… or Snapchat.. or whatever the kids are calling it. But for how long? Everybody these days seems to tweet or snap. Even my mother is on Twitter. She delights in telling me that I am ‘quite ridiculous’ and a ‘Luddite’ for not being on it.
“Everyone who’s anyone is on Twitter,” she tells me. How on earth are we supposed to keep up?
But is Social Media such a bad thing really?
So far, we know the cons. It sucks up our time. Takes us away from friends and family at important moments. Has us looking at beautiful vistas through the lens of a camera and reciting important memories onto a smart device rather than enjoying the moments as they happen.
BUT – there are pro’s. These social media forums keep us in touch with friends and family that we are separated from. It entertains us and informs us of world news and events. It connects us with people across the globe we may have never had the chance to meet.
Pros – I recently stayed up in tears all night watching and reading about the rescue of the young boys trapped in a cave with their coach in Thailand. Con’s – I have however also lost hours of my life regularly staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading about the latest amazing dog rescue or giggling alone at cute kittens videos.
Pro’s – I tell myself it’s my ‘fun’. My socialising. My decompression time. I’m a single Mummy to 3 young children and so I don’t get out as much as I used to pre-children.
Con’s – I know I am lying to myself.
I find myself on it when my children are playing and wanting Mummy to join them ‘making memories’. I do of course catch myself sometimes put my phone down to get on the floor and join in, but equally I confess there are times when I don’t.
There are moments when I lock myself in the bathroom to enjoy 10 minutes more reading about people I used to know 20 years ago on Facebook or looking at pictures of cute babies on Instagram.
Why do I do it? Does it make me a bad mum?
To be truthful, I’m not entirely sure why I do it as 99% of the time it is nothing important. The world is not going to end if I forget to post that status, or neglect to like that recent picture.
I think I do it because I’m addicted to it. I feel anxious at the thought of being away from my phone. I don’t think it makes me a bad Mummy, but it does make me a distracted one.
My 6-year-old son is already social media savvy; he has watched me on my phone over my shoulder long enough to understand. Now, if I show him a picture I have posted he is eager to know how many ‘Likes’ it has received and discusses why one picture has more than another.
Sometimes when he is playing with his little brother or sister, he will shout ‘Grab your phone Mummy and take a picture’. ‘Make sure you post it’ he’ll say.
My just turned three-year-old daughter hates my phone. She hates it when I’m on it and tries to bat it away from me, and cries “No Mummy phone”. The first time she did that I was pretty shocked.
I realised she was feeling left out, that she couldn’t understand why my attention was on this weird box in my hand and not in the room with her. Cue the mummy guilt.
So what am I doing about it? I have started leaving my phone behind when I take my children to the park or go for walks. The problem is I use my phone as my watch as well as my camera so I do find it easy to justify taking it ‘just this once’ and I try to compromise and leave it in the car. It’s not so easy to curb an addiction it seems.
When at home, I leave it my phone on the windowsill in the kitchen and spend time with my children in the lounge.
I’ve become more aware of putting my phone down when one of my children wants to play or talk to me. Or even sit on my knee for a cuddle.
Is it easy to have my phone not surgically attached to my hand? No! But I have realised that for me it is important to try to cut it down. I want to live more in the real world, not the online one.
I don’t want to be so busy on my phone looking at other people’s children; I miss my own growing up. They are only young once after all.
(Note from The Editor: Many thanks to Emma for contributing to The Glass House. If you want to read more about Emma, you can check out her author page here, or pop over to her own blog ‘Don’t Put Peas Up Your Nose‘ to read more musings about her twinadoes.)