Going Cold Turkey
Social media. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. You can’t escape it. Every programme on TV helpfully puts its #suggestedhastag at the bottom of the screen and even David Dimbleby is reminded to mention it during Question Time each week – though I often feel he isn’t quite sure what Twitter is…
Every Lent I like to give myself a challenge and this year I decided to quit social media. I’m not a big Facebook-er unless shamelessly self-promoting whatever I happen to be doing in my career but I was feeling that Instagram was beginning to take over my life. I’d love to know the hours I’ve spent scrolling, staring vacuously at my phone screen, it would be days’ worth of time. And this is disturbing. It is a literal waste of time. Instagram does have its uses – there are some lovely communities on there and who doesn’t love to see a photo of a kitten? However, it is also known as a hotbed for battering confidence and depleting self-worth. It’s easy to forget when looking on Instagram that this is an edited, varnished version of someone’s life. Whether it’s the amazingly healthy, delicious lunch they’ve just consumed, the dressing room selfie, the sunset in exotic location, the group of friends having a great night out – this photo has been chosen from many and likely cropped and filtered to make it perfect. I’ve posted photos of all of the above so I’m not above scrutiny but I had to ask myself why? Everyone likes to be liked (or “LOVED” on Instagram) and there’s no escaping the confidence boost that racking up the hearts has.
The big one for me is Twitter. I love Twitter. It’s always first for breaking stories and as an actor it’s great for networking and keeping in touch with fellow creatives. I’ve got work through seeing posts on Twitter, seen great shows and been able to promote not only myself but causes that I feel passionately about to a wider audience. I often post about theatre, films etc that I’ve seen and I like to share my opinions on all the Oscar and BAFTA nominated films and not doing that has been a real challenge. I can live without sharing a photo of my excellent vegan cookies but not being able to tell the world how much I enjoyed Lady Bird was way harder!
To make matters harder, I could not work out how to log out of the Twitter app on my phone (I’m not usually so technologically challenged). I did manage this with Instagram but it still sends me a whiny, needy little message every couple of days telling me how many unseen notifications I’ve got. LOOK AT ME it’s silently shouting. No, I shall not.
So, what have I learnt?
I’ve noticed that my concentration has improved – I used to find it nigh on impossible to sit through a tv show without checking my phone.
I’ve learnt that Instagram is indeed the bleating, bleeping carbuncle that I thought it was.
With Facebook, I’ve certainly missed a few events (sorry anyone!) but any life changing happenings have been reported to me, because even though I may not be on Facebook, everyone else still is so I don’t feel I’ve missed out there in particular.
Twitter – I literally didn’t know what was going on in the world – I’ve made time to watch the news again and this is probably better.
Will I give up social media for good? No, I’m not anti-social media, I love that I can keep in touch with friends and family all over the world and be a part of their lives. But this experience has absolutely made me realise that I don’t need it in my life every day and that I need to monitor the time I spend on it. My itchy fingers have picked up things to read instead and this can only be a good thing.
p.s. I am fully aware of the irony of promoting this blog via social media…. I did say it wasn’t all bad 😊
p.p.s. I did tweet once during this time, it was a reply to a direct tweet and I didn't want to be rude by not responding... Manners are important