I donât know when, but one day I realised that Facebook had huge potential to be a toxic influence in a personâs life. Judging your success as a person by how many âfriendsâ you have seemed in poor taste, and so I deleted everyone I didnât talk to in real life. If I havenât had a conversation with them in over a year, then are we âfriendsâ? I suspect not. Instead I began to keep a small circle of people who I actually knew and spent time with, and used Facebook to let them know what was happening in my life. Until I realised just how heavily I was editing myself.
Facebook, twitter, Instagram and the many other and varied social media territories allow us to show, rather than our actual lives, the lives we want people to think that we have. Perhaps thatâs not such a bad thing but then I wonder, if you think I am having an amazing time will you be looking out for the signs that I am about to have a breakdown, or break up with someone, or suddenly change my name and join the foreign legion? By increasing use of social media and the image we want to have, we increasingly isolate ourselves from the real world and become more insular. No-body knows what is really happening. Also, when things are looking down does this really help? This back catalogue of your âawesomeâ time with no mention of any turmoil anywhere. It serves, I think, to make us wish for the old âperfectâ days rather than to see the reality and look forward. Life is all building on what youâve learned, not being stuck wishing for better days that never truly existed.
On the flip side you find people comparing their own lives to the ones they see on Facebook. The constant tirade of amazing and life affirming brilliant moments your friends are having doesnât make you feel good, you feel like you are missing out on life. There is nothing wrong with sitting in and watching strictlyâ¦ is there? Maybe I should be out, I wish I had something else to do or somewhere to be. Other people make such better use of their livesâ¦. I think we have all had this internal monologue at one time or another. Of course we miss, in these moments of foolish envy, the fact that the other person hasnât updated anything positive for 2 weeks, because they were sat at home in their pants while you were out to dinner, looking at your profile. Or maybe they are doing things to fill a void in their life that you donât have. Or, perhaps, some people just like to sit down with a glass of wine and watch the fucking telly. It doesnât make for a great Facebook feed but so what? Fuck Facebook and do what makes you happy.
The real thing we have lost though, in my opinion, is the ability to enjoy and experience a moment. People these days are so busy taking photos and updating them to their various platforms that they no longer experience anything. A few weeks ago I watched a man take a phot of a sunrise, then turn his back on it and stare at his phone. I imagine a conversation later where he shows it do someone, and they ask what it was like. âLookâ he will say, as he shows them the picture âit was really prettyâ and yet, he never paused to take it in. He has a picture of a sunrise, but no memory of the breath of cold air he drew in as he gazed over it, no feeling of wonder at the majesty of the universe and just how small our problems are. He canât remember the smell and he canât remember what he was thinking. But hey, it got 160 likes on Facebook so who caresâ¦..
Me, I prefer to experience my life. A few photos here and there are good. Itâs nice to have reminders and prompts to remember the good times. And like anybody I donât take photos of the bad things, but I no longer edit my life online to show people the life I wish I was having. Fergotron and I fight. LizzyFace has tantrums and shits on the living room floor. My job frustrates me and the complete lack of basic manners and humanity I receive on my morning commute makes me want to give up on mankind. But I know it isnât all bad, because I can draw on memories like being stood on the top of La Dole after a 9 hour hike and looking out over to France and across the Swiss alps, the dents du midi, Mont Blanc and many others that I donât know. The wind in my face, filling my lungs with the satisfaction of a well-earned vista. I felt, just for a moment, like I had conquered the world. Pappa C 1 â The Swiss Jura 0. I remember it like it was yesterday, I can feel the wind and I can smell the mountain air. I took photos along the walk, but the only bit I really remember is being sat in a small cove along the path, looking out on a clearing with the sun shining down. I remember this because I experienced it, and I encourage you all to do the same.
If you find yourself comparing your lives to the people on Facebook, or twitter or anything else donât forget, we are only showing the image we wish to portray. My advice is turn off your news feed, or if you canât, then take it all with a pinch of salt. I wonât be banning Lizzy from these things as she grows up, but I will try to instill on her the importance of perspective and not to take things on face value.
Social media can be a great tool, and useful for promoting businesses, political views, agendas and other important topics and causes. I will continue to use my twitter feed for this blog for example. But now I make sure I use it as a tool, not a replacement for experience. And hopefully, when she starts heading out into the world she will come back with a few photos, but a million stories that she can describe so passionately as to take me all the way there.