Monday, 22 October 2012

Should we ditch social media?

Is it time to ditch social media? I have recently been thinking a lot about social networking. It is a huge part of our daily lives, especially to bloggers. But how does social networking impact on our real life friendships? You know, the friends you meet up with regularly. I have no doubt that social networking is good for the friends I meet inside my computer - there are so many people I wouldn't have had the pleasure of encountering without, for example, Twitter.

Not long ago, I met with a friend for coffee. I started to tell her about something which had happened in the week. She stopped me and said, "yes, I saw it on Facebook". That was the end of the conversation.

I find it quite sad though that you start telling someone a story only to find out that they read it on facebook, and therefore don't want to hear the full story because they think they know it already! More often than not, I tell my friends a fuller version of what I put on Facebook. It has become a competitive place, where we compare ours lives to other people's. It can really get you down when you don't make as good jam as others! I also had a problem recently with a friend who, knowing that my son had problems following his injections, consistently posted photos and propaganda about why you shouldn't give your children vaccinations. It was overwhelming. I would have preferred her just to e-mail me and tell me straight out that I was a bad parent!

We spend so much time on social networking sites compared with actual time out with our friends and it does seem such a shame that they already 'know' what's going on in your life. I am not someone who constantly updates their facebook (maybe once every four or five days), and there are very few people who actually know me who are my friends on Twitter (fewer than 5).

It got me thinking about over-sharing. Is it possible that we are sharing too much information with everyone? Knowing what others are doing all the time can't be good for us. Is there not a risk of extreme over-crowding in our already jam packed brains? Where will the space be for reading good literature, learning new and important information? How do we turn our brains off to the constant tweets, facebook updates and general gossip? How do I stop asking questions no-one can answer?

My best friend and I live over 200 miles away and somehow it has become acceptable that we communicate purely in facebook 'likes' or status updates. I only speak to her every few months and I worry that our friendship has suffered because of social media. I am now planning to send her a letter, remember those? One which actually lets her know what we are up to, including some pictures of the children and updates on how we are doing.

Last week I deactivated my personal Facebook account. I still use it for my blog account, but the personal one has gone. It feels liberating. Light a weight has been lifted. My brain no longer knows what a girl I once went to school with had for dinner this evening, or where an ex colleague (who went on to do way better than me) has gone on holiday this week. I don't mind that my brain in no longer filled with information about who has had no sleep, lots of sleep, hasn't stopped having sex for three weeks, etc. I have, however, really enjoyed going to toddler groups and talking about what people have done without having already read it on facebook.

I still don't think that I could go full cold turkey and quit everything, even for a few weeks. No Facebook, Twitter or blogging. I think it's a great idea and I hope that I can build up to it. Maybe.

What do you think? Is social networking bad for our friendships?


8 comments:

  1. It's so difficult, I don't see my real life friends enough as life is just too busy however that isn't replaced by social media. What I mean is if I am able to get out of the house i.e. have a babysitter I will do but if I'm stuck at home on an evening then of course I'l head over to social media.

    I'm actually just a newbie so I'm just getting the hang of it and at the moment I don't think any of my friends are following me - well not that i know of - so it'll be interesting to see what I think in a few months time.

    Great post :) xxx

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    1. It is interesting to hear it from that angle. I almost lead two separate online lives. My friends and family don't know about my blogs and my anonymity means that I don't have those followers instantly. I really haven't missed facebook though.

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  2. well done! i dont think i could as all my mates live far and are busy :( love letters!!! shame only jess has pen pals lol

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    1. Mine live a long way away too. I need to make sure that I make the effort to contact them though, rather than feeling like I have spoken to them purely because I have interacted with them on facebook!

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  3. I think social networking in no way replicates real life interaction, and should not substitute it. In some ways I would love to delete my personal account, perhaps I will, ponders.

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    1. You should try it for a week! You can always reactivate your account. It is quite liberating.

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  4. I enjoy both. In real life friends and ones online. It's nice when both sides get you as you. I like how it changes the way I think and feel but don't find it hard to switch off from it either.

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    1. That's a really interesting perspective. I rarely contact my real life friends apart from through facebook and I knew that needed to change.

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