I have a love hate relationship with Social Media. I blog and it’s cathartic to share the details of my insignificant little life because I have no-one to share my days with in the ‘real’ world. After 2 decades of being sick my nearest and dearest are bored to tears of the whole shebang and it feels like I’m whining if every time I’m asked how I am my reply is “exhausted” or “I’d be OK if I didn’t have [insert a symptom here]”. So I can come on my blog and talk about my health without seeing rolling eyeballs. I don’t even particularly care if anyone reads it, it’s just great to off-load and makes me feel better. At least, it does til someone inevitably makes a ridiculous, challenging, bonkers or downright bitchy remark which makes me feel worse than ever – sadly, having to interact with haters is the price we pay for putting ourselves out there. However, this is balanced with the supportive, funny, empathetic, informative messages from the majority of my readers and it’s that which makes blogging worthwhile 🙂
I am on Facebook but I’m not one of these people who have 2000 “friends” just to show how popular I am (I don’t think I even know 2000 people, let alone class them as “friends”). The people on my FB friends list are either relatives (many of whom live in other countries) or people I interact with in the real world. I do have a small handful of friends on my list that I’ve met online but they’re people I’ve developed a relationship with over several years and trust enough to share my actual, real life with.
I love going on FB and seeing what other people are up to. Because I’m largely housebound I don’t physically interact with many people, so I can share in their life events without it costing me anything in terms of energy expenditure. However this, of course, can also have it’s downside. I watch with envy other people’s holidays in the sun, their visits to gigs and festivals, their marriages and births, and it can be painful. But on the whole I like them enough to put that aside and be happy for them. I’m grown up enough to realize that everyone has their issues and no matter how idyllic other people’s lives appear they’re enhanced to look better than they actually are. No-one’s life is perfect or trouble free.
I struggle more with the pressure from FB to be a perfect human being. Today’s offerings urge me to “be the reason someone smiles today”, the message from a (probably made up) divorcee to be a “good man or a strong woman” and the one which tells me I “can’t stop the waves but you can learn how to surf” from someone whose joints obviously don’t dislocate. The demands to get off my couch and exercise, the smiley people in wheelchairs successful despite their disability and the determined hamster climbing stairs way too big for it which I’m sure is trying to teach me an important moral lesson. Then there are the photographs which are miles better than mine, the bodies which are miles leaner than mine and the houses while are miles cleaner than mine, all of which could make me feel pretty crap about myself if I were having a bad day.
And speaking of bad days I don’t want to see photos of emaciated abandoned dogs, lost and stolen pets and earthquake victims every time I turn my laptop on. I accept these issues are important but my life is hard enough without being brought to tears before I’ve even had my breakfast and it’s not like I can do anything about the situation.
Then there is all the gubbins to wade through. Goats on trampolines, recipes containing foods I can no longer eat, being urged to donate money to charity even though I’m skint, never-ending petitions none of which do a shite of good, religious bunkum and the inevitable ranting of my friends over something political, not to mention the adverts to buy everything from ornamental ducks to crystal Unicorns (WTF?). It’s freakin’ exhausting and a complete waste of my valuable mental energy, not to mention the fact it makes my brain feel somehow contaminated. Full of unwanted and unasked-for detritus.
And so my love/hate affair with Facebook continues. If I take a break I feel more isolated than ever and if I go on there too much I can feel a bit rubbish about myself, disillusioned with the world and totally overwhelmed.
I am deliberately not on Twitter, Instagram, What’s App, Snapchat nor anything else. I have a very full and busy life and simply wouldn’t have the time. How on earth most working people, or anyone with children, find space in their day for all this stuff gobsmacks me and when I was really ill I was far too sick to be online for more than a few minutes each day. These days I find being disabled incredibly time consuming because everyday things like having a shower takes three times as long as it did when I was healthy (it takes me 10 minutes just to take my TENS pads and braces off and get undressed!) and is absolutely exhausting so I then don’t have the energy to be on t’internet. I think there is also a risk that you can forget to live your actual, real life and exist entirely in cyberspace. A world with no smells, wildlife, fresh air or seasons and a shed load of nutters – I’d rather be lonely!