By Charlie Knights
I’ve been thinking a lot about social media recently. I recently saw a friend of mine on Facebook post an insightful blog article about why he was deleting his account. He talked about the shallowness of social media, the disconnect with friends, and the sheer amount of time he was spending on it comparative to ‘real world’ communication. I do find myself waking up each morning, rollling over to check my phone first and foremost. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn (because I have already graduated to a late twenties marketing intern who calls himself a ‘networker’), Facebook again. Reply to messages, laugh react to a meme, and move on to the next app.
A lot of people tend to react online, in blogs and articles, about how shallow this is. About how we only show a false reflection of ourselves, and the effect we have by only seeing these perfect crafted personas that we decide to put out there. Although saying that, I think I ruin it with my snapchats in Live Lounge and my drunken tweeting of terrible puns. I definitely craft my online persona to some extent, even these columns are not who I really am. It’s my thoughts after a few hours of writing and approved by my editor. My status’ on Facebook are job updates, and happy photos of fancy functions, not any kind of moment of insecurity or all the doubts and fears I have on a daily basis.
The sheer amount of time I spend on social media is also kind of depressing. I must spend way over an hour on social media most days, with Facebook messenger at least on me at all times. All the apps are allowed to send notifications to my phone, and I usually have my laptop or computer on as well. I made my Facebook account just over eight years ago and is by far my most used platform. Is this amount of time I am spending on there a bad thing? If I spend on average an hour a day (sometimes way more, must have been less in the past) that is nearly 122 DAYS over the past eight years. 4 months of my life dedicated to Facebook, let alone the others, and gaming, and tv I watch whilst on it. What if I had spent that on learning an instrument, or my degree field? (Disclaimer – looking at my work ethic I absolutely would not have spent it on my degree).
Inherently I still don’t think of it as a bad thing. At the end of the day, I love social media. I love the crap jokes, I love reading the updates from all my friends, and seeing what my old pal from when I was five did on his summer holiday. I like all the student groups, the society ones with constant updates, the group chats from housemates to sixth form school mates. In a more modern digital world that we live in, knowing how to use social media, how to advertise, and promoting myself to potential employers on these apps is way more useful to me than any instrument or sport in my opinion (although a sport may have been more useful to my waistline).
People talk a lot about feeling bad seeing everyone’s fake and happy news as a constant stream throughout the day. Personally I like it. It makes me feel connected. Sometimes when I am stuck in bed feeling sorry for myself for whatever reason life decides to slap me with today, I like to know that Joan from camp had a great birthday. Call it daft, but why not take a little bit of enjoyment from other people having a good time, even if it isn’t exactly who they are. I don’t mean to condemn those who don’t like it, but it’s more of a personal preference that I do.
Those who I do want to get to know more, social media aids that. I get to stay up late at night talking to friends who aren’t local, and get to know them more intimately than I could before. I’d estimate the majority of my communication is online, not in person, and that lets me talk to more people more often than I could have before. I grew up with Buffy and Willow having late night conversations on their beds twirling phone cables around their fingers, and screw it this is my way of living out that, just with less patterned pyjamas.
So I think the moral of this ranting, all-over-the-place tirade that this column seems to have become, is that social media is not the Big Bad that some media makes it out to be; Not for all of us. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying the constant stream of tweets or snapchats from that one girl in your group more addicted to your phone than you are. If it isn’t healthy for you personally, I understand, but don’t take this unhealthiness as the only way that it can be perceived. Life is more than black and white. Delete your account, make new ones, try out different platforms; portray the ideal you, or tweet about how hungover you are, or the fact a bird poo’d on your head. Sometimes you kill it, and sometimes you are the stuffed olive at the party. Just do you and do what you want to, follow what you want to follow.
Remember you can tweet me @KnightsCharlie, or if you want my advice, then #AskAtYourOwnRisk