Inspired by trying to reduce using screen-based gadgets late in the evening, I have dramatically reduced my time on Facebook and Instagram. I had already abandoned Twitter in face of American, and potentially world politics, being conducted in posts of limited characters. Brexit polarisation seemed clearer on Twitter than in real life. I care about politics, I care deeply about Brexit, but I was struggling with the anger and fear being generated by the twitterati, so I removed it from my day.
Facebook and Instagram are different. On Instagram I follow people with impressive photography skills and a love of life’s adventure who post photos and captions that make me very happy. They wear gorgeous clothes and have beautiful gardens and homes. Oddly it never makes me jealous or induces FOMO, I relish the joy with which other people photograph their life and work and holidays and proudly share them.
Facebook is similar in its more positive (than Twitter) outlook. There is just too much of it. I love the community feel of the groups I am a part of. But there is way more pressure within the design of the platform to read comments and therefore spend more time. Somehow Facebook feels more insidious – just this weekend several people I have met up with have quoted Facebook comments back to me – I find that moving of a Facebook comment into the realms of real conversation a bit odd.
All in all I don’t think social media is a force for evil. The truth of the matter is that I have finite time in my day. I have blogs, books and magazines to read, all of which I am intentionally choosing to spend time with. The danger with Facebook (and Instagram to an extent) is that I get sucked into reading something someone else wants me to read, not necessarily deepening my relationship with anyone, but taking time. There is a balance between making the connections and staying in touch and not losing hours of a week to it. A balance I still have to find.
And ironically I have interrupted the flow of writing this by browsing Facebook and Instagram whilst writing. Frustrated with myself now.