I wouldn’t say I’m a social media addict per se, but I am a daily user. The last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning is my phone, and I know I’m not alone in this! And the apps I’m looking at…social media. Endless scrolling day and night. So, when the Facebook outage on Monday 4th October happened, it forced me to stop.
At first there was a bit of a panic, it was the evening after my first proper day of my Masters and I was just trying to relax and then came the dreaded message that something was wrong with Instagram. After a few refreshes and trying to reconnect the WiFi, I had to accept that social media was not an option that evening (apart from Twitter, which really came alive that night!).
Instead, I had a focused couple of hours of work and eventually got around to reading my new book. It felt like a complete shift and that I was definitely missing something, but nothing was actually happening. Well, when I say nothing, I mean nothing was being posted, which nowadays equates to the same thing! Life was actually still going on for all the people I follow or am friends with, just we couldn’t share this with each other.
As much as I love social media, it is exhausting sometimes and can really make you feel down about yourself or your life. But, it is also addictive and despite these hang-ups, I continued to use various sites interchangeably every day. The world never stops so social media doesn’t either. It’s a 24 hour cycle. But when the outage happened, it was like a switch had been flicked and was like a sign telling all of us to take some time out.
I, for one, see all the posts online (ironically!) telling us all to take a break and get outside or do something away from our screens, but I never think of really doing it because I don’t see myself as a social media addict. Yet, I really enjoyed the fact that social media stopped and I had no choice in that. Being forced to stop and look beyond a screen was like a newfound freedom. I know it was only for a few hours (and for most of them I was asleep), but that really made a difference. I focused and I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I got my work done and then I enjoyed a good book.
I was going to end this article by saying it’s important that we all take a break…but that would have been hypocritical because I have never done that and I shouldn’t be preaching things that I’ve never tried. But I think this worldwide issue made me reconsider the (non-existent) boundaries I have for myself with social media. I need to start taking some time away from social media and limiting my availability to others, give myself time for me – even if that is to catch up with work.
Social media is wonderful, but it is all-consuming, and you can’t be all things to all people all of the time – especially if this is to your own detriment. It’s slightly sad that it’s taken a worldwide crisis for me to have this epiphany, but at least I’ve realised now. I’m going to start taking steps, albeit small ones for now, to limit my usage and dedicate some of my own time back to myself.
Image courtesy of Max van den Oetelaar.