Amy has thrown a sheep at you! Jacob has poked Domenico. Glyn likes bum!!!!!
Social Media. Once so revolutionary, personal and kinda cute, now so soulless and commercial. How did something we once felt so connected to lose our trust so badly? Is there still a heart beyond the ads?
As a sleepless, scrolling new mum I started to over-scroll and over-think. The amount of sharing, consequent related advertising and everything becoming a commodity, plus the eery, vast, bleak, egocentric pit of LOOK-AT-MY-LIFE-ness of it all.In a previous job I managed various BBC social accounts (I was like the one from FUN Media on W1A) and it gave me an early taste of this, plus RSI and a serious social media addiction. I keep hearing the term “social detoxing” popping up. I’ve been experimenting with limiting use to certain times of the day eg: no phone after , no phone in the bedroom and turning it off on a Sunday. Its harder than it sounds. (First world problems!)
Then I got an enforced Facebook ban after posting a picture of a bum (LOL), the ban lasted a month. It was actually a really important lesson in freedom and life outside the addiction of scrolling. Having the time away from it, I realised that following certain accounts was bringing me down, due to fomo or the nature and vibe of the posts. I did a mass unfollow and it’s getting clearer and more manageable, but it’s still soooo addictive. It taps into the worst human traits; greed, self loathing, ego, judgement, comparison. All unachievable, unrealistic and unhealthy.
But how do we fully declutter? Can we cling on to the memory of life-before-social, is it too late, are we too far gone? It did exist, didn’t it?! We had more time, less thumb pain, more IRL friends we had to be on time for and real social interactions (actual social.)
Facebook was kind of the making of our club night Sink The Pink. I spent most of my twenties posting selfies of myself and Glyn in silly outfits. I’ve never given sharing (or over sharing as some may see it!) a second thought. Then I got up the duff. Suddenly I didn’t want to share a part of my life. I assumed i’d be a total preggo sharer, but it turned out I got very protective, insular and didn’t mention a peep about it online. I think following a miscarriage the month before, there was this feeling of ‘until theres actually a baby in my arms, I don’t believe its real, so i’m not going to make myself vulnerable by posting/boasting.’ Also some lovelies close to me have been unable to conceive, so I just wanted to keep my big mouth shut on the matter.
Then he arrived, and I still didn’t want to share the news. I’d watched loads of Black Mirror and spent many existential moments looking at this precious creature who in essence has free will, except i’m making decisions for him and he can’t say ‘MUM, STOP SHARING PICTURES OF ME ON THE INTERNET.’ I thought about how our parents wouldn’t have had to go through this. And wondered what crazy shit my son will want to protect his kids from one day.
I used whatsapp to send close friends key updates, and that worked for a few months. Then I had no time and kept forgetting, and friends wanted to hear updates and I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was a way I could share pictures with them all at once?’ And realised oh, thats what social media is. And when its good, its great. But having a baby throws a whole new question of consent into the matter. Our generation weren’t born with our name hashtagged and images immediately shared with the world. At most we might have made the family Christmas card update.
Technology used well is awesome. I created a gmail address for him and every month I send him pictures and tales of what he’s been up to, I plan to give him the password when he turns 16. I also get little photo books printed every couple of months. But friends wanted in on the action too, and i’m proud of the little tike so I started wanting to share.
Being pregnant I was faced with my own ego. I knew this would be a perfect time to look inwards, enjoy this IRL experience and experiment with putting my phone down. I could quite easily have become an insta-mum but, oh God, the poor child and really, who cares?! (all my friends, it turns out.)
Something shifted, I did my first yoga class without him. I didn’t freak out when he put a toy in his mouth that had been on the kitchen floor. I let him go for walks with people without me. He ate his first real food. He turned 6 months. I chilled out. I can’t and don’t want to wrap him up and hide him from the world forever. And with this, I thought, i’ll change my facebook settings to friends only and post a few pictures. Afterall, this is my life now, I can’t protect him from the internet forever. I enjoy sharing in friends lives and friends enjoy sharing in mine.
I looked at other mum examples. My friend Zoe runs an insta account called Dress like a Mum where she posts a picture of her and her kids everyday (it’s been so useful for finding well made, colourful maternity and breastfeeding clothes.)
My friends and ex radio 1 mates do it cleverly, Fearne posts pictures of her kids but just the backs of their heads and Annie adds emojis over their faces.The other extreme is my mate Jenny who literally doesn’t mention it on her account.
I have utmost respect for all of their choices. And it’s taken me the whole pregnancy and first 6 months of his life to work out where I sit. It’s all so new and such a personal decision.
But the first few stories I shared were met with such love and excitement, friends thanking me for sharing, letting me know it had made their day. I just thought YOLO, he’s an independent little man now, he smiles at everyone he sees. I apologise to future him if it turns out that Mark Zuckerberg now owns his face or something. But having weighed it all up, i’ve concluded that the occasional picture of his and my life is ok, and this is where I sit with it.
I’m reminded of the 90s kids TV show “why don’t you” who’s lyrics were “why don’t you switch off your TV set and go and do something less boring instead.” (I always found this brilliantly odd; should I switch off now or after the show?) But I think a few of us could do with this as our screen saver!
My conclusion is that quality social media, used healthily is a great addition to life. My favourite accounts pose intelligent questions, provide actual interesting content, offer joyful, FUN escapism and help expand my mind. But most importantly remind me there’s a life outside this phone. They post because they’re living, not live because they’re posting. This year I intend to be and follow these types of accounts. See you IRL, friends!
Words by Amy Zing @missamyzing