WALPOLE HIGHWAY: Giving up the addiction of social media
Zoe Blanks, 47, a mother-of-three from Walpole Highway who works part-time and is studying for an Open University degree in humanities, describes why she decided to leave the social networking website, Facebook.
In a reckless moment, I decided that I would give it a go, break away from the daily obsession, the hourly fix of social networking... account de-activated.
It all started on a Sunday afternoon when I was trying to write an essay – how easy it is to flip through the tabs on the internet – university website, online dictionary, the local cinema listings and my social network wall. Then that endearing popping sound breaks through to notify you that one of your 349 ‘friends’ has updated their status, liked your status or added a photo. How long could I resist? Approximately five seconds and then click – there is that glorious news feed on your screen where you can dip into the lives of your 349 friends.
But of course it does not stop there does it? Once opened, like the infamous crisps that are all the same shape and come in a tube – once you pop you can’t stop – and so you are drawn in to more hours of surfing through photographs, writing comments and “liking”. To add to the tension, there is that strand of desperate hope that you have a private message or, even better, a friend request.
The ultimate attention grabber for your 349 friends is ‘urrgh!’ Agh, or :’( guaranteed to trigger that reaction that we all so long for, probably from people that we would not normally even bother with. ‘What’s up hun?’ or ‘inbox me’, an instant fix for our attention craving desires.
For those like me, who do not want others to see the signs of age or over indulging, we need to create that perfect image. My photographs are always the things that I am proud of such as my family, my animals, the amazing places I have been to, things that I have seen – sculpture, art. But never . . . ever . . . me.
So my first break for freedom was a status update ... “not being a drama queen, but ditching off for a while – need the time for study and stuff”. I needed to justify my departure from this social prop in an acceptable way, still keeping up the image of the perfect, academic life. I would not admit that this prop was not holding me up but pulling me down.
The flood of comments and likes further added to my addiction, I had to keep checking to see who was going to miss me – trying to attract my attention before I drifted off into the real world. Then that life changing moment when I decided to quietly meander into the great abyss which is life without my news feed.
The following morning, the panic set in – what happens if people have messaged me, it might be important. How will I ever keep contact? That driving urge just to have a quick peek – after all, who would know? The news feed will always be there . . . the temptation never goes away. A bit like dieting or giving up smoking – food and cigarettes can easily be bought. It’s not the de-activation of the account it is the de-activation in my head.
Then the texting began to my smaller number of real life friends. One comment was, “you have come off? You misery”. What an interesting perception. What I did not reveal was that the real reason that I had deactivated my account was because it was making me a misery – it was a revelation to me that the constant bombardment of reading about other people made me feel lonelier than I did already.
So, to ‘update my status’... yes there are times when I feel isolated, out of the in-crowd, but do you know what? I have discovered so many better ways to spend my social networking time which give a positive input rather than negative. I do not feel that I have to constantly ‘check in’, to say ‘how I am feeling’... I am being me. I am not answerable to anybody, I am not comparing myself to anybody and I am completing my essays in half the time – I like this.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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