Thursday, 16 January 2014

My Amazing Social Media Realisation

Last year brought a number of realisations, however, the most critical one for me was quite personal.

People, Family, Friends, Acquaintances, Avoidances + Social Media, namely, Facebook.

To start with, I have an old school mate, we chat maybe a few times a year.  It's difficult to catch up & we are both aware of this, even though we could try a little harder, having a kid changes everything.  The horrible thing is that his son, who was only a few months older than my 11 month old daughter at the time, passed away in his sleep.  It was horrendous, heart-breaking & an experience that I will definitely share at a later time.  The realisation for me, post his passing and even more so after my mate's speech at his son's funeral, was that we are so engulfed in witnessing each other's lives via Facebook that, in so many cases, we see it as sharing in someone's life.  The truth is, it is not.  What it is though, is the illusion that you are enjoying a moment with a person.  You are approving or disapproving of the happenings in their life.  You are a witness, a viewer, a number.  And, should you happen to actually catch up with that person, in person, what's there to say? "Wait, I know this story, I saw you post it on Facebook, funny yes, hmmmm, now what?"

I made a statement a few weeks after the above happened that I would be taking a break from Facebook.  My intention being that I would increase quality time with the people I care about and to remove distractions while at work and when having quality time with my partner & daughter.  Yeah, I posted a couple of things here and there but nowhere near the daily quantity I was previously.  I turned off notifications and logged in maybe once or twice a day.  My productivity was through the roof, but, the overall outcome based on the increase in quality time spent was not what I was expecting.  It was and still is almost sad actually.  Either it is a reflection of what I have become due to the obsessive nature of social media or what we have all become Or maybe it is what I have always been - ie. my first post about knowing myself - I doubt that though, as I do not recall ever feeling so isolated before.

So, I'm going to go with what social media (Facebook) has made us.

I'm going to highlight something that was very important to me...

There are times in everyone's life where an experience or moment shared passes in a flash and can be missed while you're off doing other things. For example, firsts. A birth, a birthday, a graduation, a celebration; pretty much anything up to and including death.  If missed, obviously, this moment can not be experienced again. They are a one-off, singular occurrence. A first smile, first laugh, first word, first cheeky act; each an amazing milestone.  Such as, my daughter's first birthday late last year.  It's an invitation to all the people you care about, that have had an impact in your life, to share with them your most amazing creation.  For me, the people I invited were people I felt this way about.  They were invited through many forms; paper, email, Facebook.  Whilst it was a great turn out, there were, who I thought at the time, important people missing.  Email, Text & Facebook messages received in the morning of the day of the party - not even the courtesy of sharing their lack of emotional attachment to the special day via phone call.  I was more than disappointed.  I was gutted.

The realisation was at first, that these people were arseholes.  But in reality, my conclusion was that I have been seeing these people in the wrong light.  That I was blinded by the world that Facebook had lead me to believe I was a part of, blinded by the illusion that I had shared moments with (Facebook) friends.  That I had not put any effort into being a part of these people's lives, and whether they see it the same as me or not, they had not put any effort into being a part of mine & my family's life.

I no longer have time for Facebook friendships.  I will continue to share for my family network's sake & for interstate friends of course, but other than that, it's dead to me.  I saw this today.  It's clear that Facebook's value is declining, the younger generation is realising this.  Yes there are other social media outlets, but none of them promote the same "know every little detail about my life" behaviour as Facebook does.  I use Google+ to connect with Tech and Interesting people in interesting places, I know they are not my friends & they probably never will be. I don't touch Twitter, gave it a few goes, but it never really struck me as worthwhile.

As for real friendships, if people want to be a part of my life, they know how to contact me to catch up in the real world, as do I, likewise.