Social media and happiness

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media recently, our relationship with it and how we live our lives with it.

Facebook

I have quite a strange relationship with social media. Some aspects I hate, some I love. Will you find me endlessly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter? Yes. But far less than I used to. For some things, I find social media really useful – keeping up to date with news, keeping tabs on friends. Most of the time, however, I can’t stand it.

I lean towards Twitter more than Facebook, though my love of photography has pushed me towards Instagram recently. I get so much news from Twitter, and so much more depth and insight than if I were to just watch the news. I remember finding out about the Paris terrorist attacks on Twitter. I was watching Children in Need at the time, and only found out because I scrolled through Twitter. I don’t tend to watch the news on the weekend, so I probably wouldn’t have found out until late on Saturday, possibly even as late as Monday. I use it to learn more about football. I like to think I know my stuff, but I follow quite a few fans that have a far more sophisticated understanding than me. And I learn from them.

I think it all comes down to ‘FOMO’ – fear of missing out. It’s a real thing! We become scared, to an extent, of missing something on social media – a viral video, a news story, a funny meme, some big news from a friend or family member. And we become trapped by that. Got a spare minute where you’re bored or waiting for something? Scroll through social media. But why? There have been so many times where I’ve been waiting to pick someone up in the car, and while I waited I scrolled through social media. One time, I realised and thought to myself ‘Is this all you have to do?’, so I closed the apps and listened to the radio. It was already on, but I really listened to it and enjoyed it. It wasn’t just background music anymore, listening to music was what I was doing.

Emma and I have had a few disagreements over social media over the years. Sometimes we would get frustrated with each other for sitting there, scrolling on our phones while ignoring the TV and each other. Obviously now we have Raife, 99% of our time and attention is dedicated to him, but it’s something I’ve worked on a lot over the past year – a desire to stop sitting in front of the TV watching something we don’t want to watch, getting bored and going on our phones. And I feel much better for it. Now that Raife has come along, we try not to go on our phones at all when we’re with him.

It doesn’t just impact you when you’re bored or killing time. It traps us when we’re doing things. And this is my biggest grievance with social media! I’m sorry if you do this. Well, actually, no I’m not, because I hope by reading this you realise that you’re not fully enjoying what you’re doing and make a change. Why are people posting photos and videos when they’re on holiday or doing something amazing? I see so many people posting daily while they’re on holiday. I can’t think of anything worse.

When Emma and I went to Barcelona for our honeymoon, the thought of posting on social media never entered our minds. Sure, we took plenty of photos. But our heads were up, taking in the city’s sites and smells, not down, cropping a photo and adding a filter before tagging the person we’re with. Our obsession with social media is stopping us from really appreciating the experiences around us, no matter how big or small.

I love photography, but when it’s for social media or impacts your ability to enjoy something, why bother? That’s the reason we asked our guests not to take photos during the service or first dance at our wedding. We wanted people to remember it through their eyes, not their phones. Likewise, we didn’t want to look back at photos of our wedding and see the backs of phones instead of faces.

I hope this will be a big part of making myself be happier. I’m not unhappy, I just know I can be happier and want to be the best version of myself I can be, for me, my wife and Raife. And I can’t do that with my head buried in my phone on social media.

Ironically, most of you probably found this blog on social media, but that’s one of the benefits! 😉

 

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