Digital Detox

This weekend, I decided to do a wee ‘digital detox’ and take a break from social media. I had a bad day on Friday and was in STINKIN form (sorry Niamh and Amber), so I just felt like I needed to take a couple of days to myself and clear my head. Instead of looking at what everyone was having for breakfast or was doing with their day, I just wanted to focus on what I was having for breakfast, and what I was doing with my day.

The thing is, a lot of the time I’m on social media, it’s purely for the sake of it. It’s not because I particularly want to be, it’s just a wee distraction while I’m waiting on the microwave or when the ads come on. That’s why we go on social media, because we’re bored and want something to look at; we want a distraction but don’t want to have to distract ourselves. We pretty much rely on other people for entertainment when our lives aren’t entertaining enough.

It’s nothing new like, but people these days (yeah, not just us young ones) are pretty much addicted to our phones. We refresh our feeds to see what’s “new”, and if anything’s happened since we last checked 10 minutes ago. And then get a wee bit disappointed when there’s nothing to look at, like or reply to. It’s like we have this constant need to see what everyone else is doing, and show everyone what we’re doing. Or eating. Or watching. We’re obsessed. It’s almost like some sort of self-validation. Our lives aren’t enough for us, and we’re not satisfied or fulfilled by what we’re doing until we see what other people are.

That’s the thing, it’s about other people. We want to see what they’re up to and have a wee jook at what their lives are like. And then, we compare them to our own. And that’s a problem with social media, the constant comparisons. They can make you feel better about yourself, or a hell of a lot worse. We might be happy enough doing what we’re doing, eating what we’re eating, wearing what we’re wearing, but then as soon as we see someone else is doing it ‘better’, we’re not that happy anymore.

We give him a run for his money

It can be something as simple as dinner. Someone’s getting a Chinese and now you’re a bit melted because you want one but are stuck with pasta, AGAIN. Maybe other people are going out but you’re in bed, and then you think that you really should be going out but you’re not, so you must be a bore. And there’s nothing, NOTHIN like the panic you feel when you see one of your classmates has submitted their assignment and you haven’t even started yet. Help.

So, I thought “to hell with it, ya gal needs a break”.

Have I noticed anything since my detox? Well, the sky is bluer. The air is fresher. I can smell flowers. Birds are chirping. Children laugh in the distance. I am at peace.

I have absolutely no idea what is going on in the outside world or other people’s lives. And you know what? I don’t need to. I don’t care. No one knows what I’ve been doing. They don’t they need to. And they probably don’t care. Although my private stories are a GEG so I know people did miss me.

So, what did I do with all this free time that I’d usually spend on my phone you ask? I stared at the walls in my room. There are 459 bricks on next door’s extension. Nah. I didn’t do anything, because I was already doing other things. I went for wee danders, met friends for coffee, did shopping, did uni work (and ACTUALLY got stuff done?? Class), and watched First Dates Hotel. What a show.

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So there was no real time that I needed to be on my phone. Well, I did to arrange meeting up with my friends like, but I did it retro-style and used TEXT. Yeah, people do still do that. To be fair, I did go online a few times (I’m a fraud, I know) to listen to music, check the weather (rain again, SHOCK) and check the Celtic score. Although I really wish I didn’t. The world’s revenge for me going online I guess.

But I didn’t go on social media. And I didn’t need or want to. So I didn’t miss it. I didn’t miss seeing selfies, coffee art or food. I didn’t miss seeing how people were at the gym, how drunk they were getting on Saturday and how much they were dying on Sunday. My thumbs weren’t twitching from lack of double tapping or scrolling, I didn’t get cabin fever and I didn’t start talking to inanimate objects. So, it was an overall success I’d say.

What about when the ads on iplayer came on? What I did do with all that free time? How did I distract myself from the marketing traps in front of me? Well, first set: made a cup of tea. Second set: washed my cup. Third set: Get this, I just watched the ads. *Gasp* That’s right, I watched them. Well, it was more ‘saw’ than ‘watched’ because I didn’t really pay attention like. But yeah, there actually are other things to do than sit on your phone when ads are on. Wild like. 

It was a short detox, but that’s all I needed. And sure, people only stick at those weird tea detoxes for like a day anyway so I didn’t do too bad like. I just needed a few wee days to myself. I was still busy, I still went out and I still met friends. I didn’t miss out on anything and it actually did help me clear my head. PLUS, did you know that I got uni work done? Unreal. Go me.

Now, I’m not trying to be condescending and tell everyone they should boycott social media and “live in the moment, man”. Because social media isn’t a bad thing. You can talk to your friends, stalk your exes and just have a wee nosey at what other people are doing. You can see where’s nice to go for coffee, or get dinner inspo. And that’s fine. It’s a good wee distraction for when we need one and it can give us a few minutes to just take a break from our lives. I just needed to focus on mine and take a break from other people’s.

So, yes, use social media, but make sure you give it all a rest as well. Just to take a wee bit of time for yourself and forget about everything else. We spend so much time focusing on what other people are doing, when we really should be focusing on ourselves.

Fakebook – Our Fake Lives Online

Let’s be real, the “us” we portray on social media, isn’t the same “us” that danders around tesco in their jammies or watches Netflix for 8 hours straight. Everything we post has been polished, filtered and approved by 3 friends in the group chat. You don’t just post “whatever”, you make a conscious decision to upload something specific. Out of 56 selfies, you chose to upload that one – even though you might delete it later but you “felt cute” at the time. Out of a million memes, you chose to post that one (which isn’t even funny). And out of all of the giveaways for a free trip to Malibu for you and 4 friends, you chose to share that one – oh but I’m sure this ones definitely real.

Why? Why do we make such an effort to control what gets posted? Because everyone wants to have friends and followers. The aim of the game is give the people what they want so they decide to follow you. So you post what you think people want to see and what you think will get you the most likes and follows; there’s a constant desire to impress. You try 6 different filters, 13 captions and debate with yourself whether or not to post that selfie. People creep their own profiles and do a “detox”, deleting the photos or statuses that they don’t like anymore. They check notifications, count their likes and comments and panic if there’s less than 11 in 5 minutes, because sadly, we live in a society where self esteem and value is determined by this. We let how many strangers like our photo effect how we feel about ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s edited beyond recognition, it gets more likes. Do you ever wonder why people don’t look like themselves in their Instagram photos? Because they get more likes on these, so they’re basically told that they’re prettier and more popular this way. It gives people a chance to change their appearance to one that they’re happier with – the way they wished they looked. The way they’re told they should look.

In real life, you decide to be friends with someone based on what they’re like, and online is no different. Your friends, family and anyone who actually knows you, well, knows you – so they know that they like you. But strangers need to gauge who you are and what you’re like based on what you post on your accounts to see if you’re the sort of person that they want to “add” or “follow”. They don’t know you, so they don’t know your flaws, your personality traits or what you look like without makeup. You get a clean slate. You choose what they see and what they know about you. Don’t like the photo? They don’t have to see it. Don’t post it, delete it, remove the tag. Don’t want people to know something about you? Then simply don’t mention it. No one needs to know about your Goth phase in 2008. Thank God.

So, it isn’t always a bad thing to hide some things or be a bit ‘fake’ online, and not just with photos. In private conversations, you can say what you want and openly express how you feel, especially with controversial topics. But on social media, you have to be a bit more cautious. Say something out loud and there’s no real “proof” unless someone’s recording, but put something online and there it is, a lil digital paper trail. As we all know from FILM, once something’s been uploaded, it’s up forever. You can delete it if you want, but how many people already saw it? And who knows how many screenshots have been taken by then?

Obviously, everyone has an opinion and the right to express it too, but there’s certain things which are probably better left un-typed. You wouldn’t walk down the street shouting racist or homophobic comments, so why do the equivalent on your ‘wall’?

It goes for anywhere, but especially here in the north of Ireland, you have to be really careful about what you post in relation to politics or religion. You pretty much have to accept that you’ll be judged on what soccer team you support, what passport you have, what you call the artificial state that you live in and what you do on the 12th of July. It’s the same in the UK with who voted ‘leave’ and who voted ‘remain’, and in America with who voted for Trump (and more importantly, why?). If people know where we stand on these sort of things, they’ll judge us and it will effect their opinion of us; but online, if we don’t post about it, then they won’t know and so will judge us based on other things like what we’re like, not what we believe in.

Let’s be real, we’ve all googled our own names to see what comes up. And most of the time, it’s nothing bar old Bebo accounts or other people with the same name (shoutout to the 134,000 other Niamh Murrays rolling about). But what else comes up are our social media accounts. So, if someone’s doing a lil dig on you like Joe from ‘You’ checking up on your woman Beck, that’s all they really have to find out about us, that and the primary school photos from the Andytown News website. Yikes.

Aside from stalkers, potential employers are going to be doing a little snooping on you too, to see what you’re really like. Even they know that you can’t really gauge what someone’s like from applications or CVs, and no one’s their true self in interviews. They want to see if you’re the sort of person they want working for them and representing the company, so what they see can affect whether or not you get a shortlisted, an interview, or the job even. If something negative or offensive gets broadcasted on social media, it’s going to put off employers and customers too. I mean, footage of a company executive singing a sectarian song doesn’t exactly scream “professional and trustworthy source”. But that’s hypothetical, of course…

I reckon that’s why a lot of people are getting and using LinkedIn. Having a social media especially for networking and professional use means people don’t have to worry as much about what they post or hide hide on other accounts. It gives employers a first port of call too, they can see your LinkedIn and think “hmm, doesn’t seem like a bad spud” and give up, rather than keep digging and finding your drunk alter ego’s Instagram account (yeah, you know who you are). See, there’s sort of an unspoken hierarchy of how “behind the scenes” your social media accounts are:

  • LinkedIn is professional, so you post about achievements and current affairs.
  • Instagram is basically where you post photos of yourself and your friends to show off your contour and social life, it’s basically all for show, like a polished version of you.
  • Facebook is mostly used for memes, but this is where people feel most free to post what they want. They’re not afraid to say how they feel on current affairs and political matters, or when they’re drunk.
  • Snapchat is where you can be your true self and send ugly selfies where you look like a thumb, super behind the scenes.

Saying all this, how ‘fake’ you are depends how much you care what other people think about you; some people really don’t care and still post statuses and photos which are pretty questionable. But, they’re doing what they want on their accounts. Don’t like it? Unfollow. Unfriend. If you don’t like what they do, say or are like, then you wouldn’t be friends with them in real life, so why be online?

From Oranges to Apple – What Happened Christmas?

I’m not tryna be a Grinch or rain on anyone’s snowman here, God knows I love Christmas more than Buddy from Elf, but what happened the good old days of getting a stocking full of satsumas for Christmas? How and why has Christmas become so commercialised? Like I’m all for presents and all, don’t get me wrong, but I really do think that the focus on material possessions has gotten out of hand.

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Exhibit A

I just think Christmas isn’t about what it’s meant to be about anymore. I don’t mean Jesus being born all the religious stuff either (sorry ma), I mean family. I mean Mariah Carey. I mean sitting around table with 12 different bowls of food -around 6 of which are various forms of potatoes. I mean pulling crackers and huffing when you didn’t win ~because your opponent was DEFINITELY cheating and held the handle too far up~ and eyeing up their mini screwdrivers or money clip with envy. Not that you’d have used it anyway, but that was your crappy “prize” to bin and your embarrassingly bad punchline to read out.

Christmas to me is about spending the day with family. It’s about slaving away in the kitchen for hours for a meal which is vacced down in about 15 minutes; followed by slaving away in the kitchen for hours doing dishes for the 17 saucepans and 9 of each cutlery even though there were only 6 of you eating.

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We don’t have a dishwasher either. I cry.

I don’t know when it stopped being about this and started being a competition of who got the most stuff. Christmas has always been somewhat commericalised of course, with a massive focus on spending money and buying gifts, but I think that it’s really starting to get a bit ridiculous. 89% of shift workers said they’re afraid that they can’t afford Christmas. Like how is that even a thing? How can you not afford a holiday? No one says they can’t afford Halloween or Easter, so what the hell happened? What have we, as a society done to this holiday?

Christmas is meant to be about excitement and happiness, not fear, dread and panic. So many people spend money they don’t have on things they can’t afford, and for what? Payday loans and buying with credit aren’t the answer, or the solution. If you can’t afford these things right now, then how will you be able to afford them with the 879% interest on top of it?

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Christmas seems to have become a sort of competition among children of “whose parents love them more” and among parents of “who loves their children more”. Asking friends “what did you get?” not so much because they care, but to mentally compare it to what they got. I don’t know why or when it started getting like this, but I do think social media has a big part to play. Before, people didn’t see what you got for Christmas, but now, anyone can see it if it’s posted online. Which a lot of people seem to insist on doing. Even though no one asked to see what they got. But sure.

I honestly hate the whole saga of *opens presents* *arranges presents on couch* *takes photo* “Thanks mum and dad, you’re the best❤” *ignores parents the rest of the day and sits on their phone checking what everyone else got*. Posting all this on social media to me just seems like a way to make others feel jealous and bad about themselves.

Like, no harm, but no one cares what you got. You got a £500 phone? Okay cool. Ridiculous for something that will break if you even so much as give the screen a dirty look, but cool. You got £50 phone? Just as cool.

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People post photos of their presents and their makeup and outfits, and their Christmas dinners. Thanks to Snapchat and Instagram stories, everyone now plays a little “judge everyone’s Christmas dinner” game. Like WHY do you have Yorkshire puddings, catch yourself on. Dinner at 8pm? Really? Anyway, I see loads of posts about dinners and presents but hardly any of families.

Children are demanding, no question about it. They don’t understand the concept of money and expense because they never really have to worry about these things. So of course they’re going to write massive Christmas lists and ask for an abundance of stuff, because they think it’s free. Christmas for me changed a lot when I stopped believing in Santa, because I realised that there actually was a price attached to what I wanted.

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I don’t blame her, squirrels are CLASS

Parents feel enough pressure to make their children happy, without having to worry about spending an obscene amount of money on them for one day. “S/he wants it” or “it’ll make them happy”. And that’s concerning in itself. The only way you can make your child happy is to spend money on them? Ya know what makes people happy? Hugs. Hugs are FREE. Conversations are FREE. Support is FREE. The only things I really want that aren’t free are the 6 counties, but not even Santa can get me those.

But it’s not all the children’s fault, parents need to learn to set expectations and say no. You don’t have to buy your child everything they want, because that’s not realistic, or financially viable. I think that if children knew how much stress and pressure their parents were under to buy them things, they’d ask for less. Well, I hope they would. I’m not saying parents should tell their children they can’t have anything, I’m just saying they don’t have to have everything. If you buy one of your children a car for Christmas, then of course in a few years your other child is going to demand expect the same. Children ask for things based on what they normally get. If you spent £100 on presents one year, they wouldn’t expect £1000’s worth the next. So I think it’s important to set a reasonable limit on their presents.

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So yeah, there you go. You can now continue to support capitalism and commercialise the birth of a religious figurehead buy presents. Ho ho ho.