And I am a social media addict.
“Oh for god sake, here we go again!” I hear you cry – first Anxiety, then OCD and now addiction, what’s bloody next!
But alas, it is true my friends.
My addiction to social media has been in steadfast flow for approximately ten years. It kicked off way back in 2007 when my sweeping fringe was questionable, my social antics excessive and I was introduced to the marvel that is Facebook.
As I merrily created my login, and uploaded my first ever profile picture, little did I know it would fuel what was to be, and still is – my frenzied social media infatuation.
I was instantly hooked. Facebook gave me a newly found love of oversharing – the desire had always festered within – I love an exposed tête-à-tête, however as yet I hadn’t been bestowed the platform in which to indulge. Furthermore, it enabled me to not only stalk old school mates, colleagues, friends AND ex boyfriends (including their subsequent new girlfriends) but provided a superb platform for an exasperating amount of self-criticism. Because the WHOLE world was having more fun than me, right? Right?
And – therein lay the age-old problem with this peculiar but obsessive social arena. For someone, like myself – I only had to catch a sideward squint of a newly uploaded album that displayed fun frivolities in which I hadn’t participated, to fret that I was ‘missing out’. Way back when it was all the rage to upload WHOLE albums of your weekend’s merriment (GUILTY) my newsfeed would be inundated with all the fun that everyone else was having, and the Joy was as much in the album title as it was the photos, as this gem of my own articulates only too well : “FUNAGE IN THE HAM OF CLAP!!” I kid you not. What does that even bloody mean? But who cares! I looked like I was having SO much fun, and every damn person on Facebook would know it. YEAH.
With Facebook freshly hatched, and social media hysteria at its peak – the albums of nights out, holidays, family weekends and romantic retreats were appearing thick and fast. I see your “Funage in the Ham of Clap” and I raise you “Our amazing girly holibobs in Beefa”, or “Just the two of us” – actual WHOLE albums dedicated to just the one couple – showcasing their adoration for each other in various poses, gazing tenderly into one another’s post coital eyes. And the status’s! Those were the days, where you would post daily updates – about any old shit, not just when you got angry about finding a hair in your banana you had purchased from your local Tesco in hope of huge media coverage or needed to vent your views on politics. Oh, and let us not forget the intensity of the “relationship status” – so brilliantly awful. Hands up if you dreaded the imminent ‘… is now single’ – broadcasted across your profile when your (now ex) boyfriend rapidly updated his relationship status before you? Yup. I lived through that shit. And finally – the poke! There was nothing like a good old game of poke to get you through a mind-numbing day at the office.
Oh, those were the bloody days – at its pinnacle – Facebook was everything I could have ever dreamed of and more.
But much like the good things in life that serve up potential compulsion (damn you Marlboro lights, my stale stinky friend) it was also fantastically dangerous. Especially for someone such as myself – who was not retiring in the personality traits of comparison and insecurities. Oh no, I did not require any further assistance in feeding my habit to compare every aspect of my life to others – especially those who weren’t even my ‘friends’ (but had open profiles, RESULT!) Fear of missing out, Jealousy and angst to name but a few were frequently being provoked, and at times the prospective enjoyment of all it all felt like it had fallen on its arse, but I still couldn’t get enough.
I’m a loyal gal, and much like my allegiance to my family and friends, I am also true devotee of social media. And so, a good few years into my Facebook addiction, soon to follow was Instagram. THE BEAST.
She’s a crafty one. I’ve heard Instagram be described as a vortex. In fact, I dumped that word straight into an online thesaurus in hope of finding a suitable yet more eclectic description, but it couldn’t be trumped. For me, it describes exactly what happens when I click on that ruddy little icon on my phone (a million times a day) and I am instantaneously sucked into a weird, yet wonderful world of squares (and now “stories” – lord help me)
I’ve found my addiction to Instagram differs slightly to other platforms. It’s relentless, but it offers up a different avenue of addiction than Facebook. It’s given me a podium of which to share my parenting woes, provided me huge sentiment and drive to start this blog (and keep it going when I wondered if anyone but my mum was reading it) – the sincere, positive affirmations and reassurance of ‘followers’ most of whom are basically strangers is really quite mind blowing. Social media used in the right way can be hugely gratifying. Then the bugger gets my goat. Keeps me awake at night, makes me doubt myself and I want to delete the little fucker off my phone.
Of course, I’ve toyed with the Idea of giving it all up – going cold turkey and sweating all that social media straight out of my open pores but I know I would struggle. That in itself is quite sad and more so frightening, but then – equally quite hilarious. I mean, it’s Instagram for Lord’s sake – surely, it’s not THAT bad?
And it’s not, least not all the time. For me, it offers a strange escapism. I relish a good aimless scroll – liking, clicking, reading, commenting – all with no huge objective. And mostly it’s genuinely stuff I find of interest – the post that makes me LOL on a packed train whilst commuting into the office, or induces a confidence boosting, life affirming “oh thank fuck, yes me too!” just when I need it most.
Then the vortex cunningly draws you into a dark cosmos. A place where I find myself bleery eyed at 1am, with a dead arm and possibly four hours sleep on the horizon at best – but I am scrolling. And scrolling. Feed after feed – another click leads you to another feed, to another, and another – the ‘Insta’ whirlpool unknowingly dragging you in. Sometimes it’s the beautifully filtered (if ever so slightly on the bleak side) Monochrome images of which I will never take inspiration from, or maybe the lure of a perfectly curated wall of fashion flat lays that you lose yourself in – genuinely I do not know how I end up at some feeds, even when I’m sober.
And then sometimes, it’s edging towards 1.40am and you find yourself casually perusing the latest feed of “Tessa and Johnny” – a dreamy golden skinned and muscular looking couple from Nashville Tennessee who are documenting their journey of protein fuelled paleo food diaries, captured in daily Instagram photos, and you think – what the actual fuck am I doing? That is when I have to check myself – quite simply, before I wreck myself.
It’s those moments, since having the girls, that I am suddenly slapped back from the vortex, into the everyday with a screech of “Mummyyyyyy” or more regularly, and quite fairly “For fuck sake, get off your bloody phone and live in the moment” (that would be Jamie) And he’s right. There is no barney to be had. I have no excuse. Other than I’m addicted of course. I am aware though, and I believe that with any bad habit – if you’re conscious of it then you can start to remedy it.
But where’s all the bloody fun hey people?! And there is, for me – SO much fun to be had on social media if you don’t give into the probable comparisons and the pressure to please. Looking back at my old albums and status’s whilst penning this blog has not only been hilarious, but it’s taught me that I must NEVER ever have a fringe cut again and to always use suncream when holidaying in Turkey during a heatwave. Those are LIFE lessons my friend, and I have good old Facebook to thank for that.