Social Media – The Risks

social_media_takeoverSocial media is an amazing thing – it has connected us in ways like never before. The initial interactions that I have had with my closest friends have in fact been through Facebook. We have all shared witty status updates, happy snaps, the check-ins at a fancy restaurant and funny videos, giving our friends a ‘snap shot’ of our lives. We have enjoyed the likes, the loving comments and just the thought that even when you are alone, you are connected to others in your life in some capacity.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with using Facebook or any platforms of social media – I too have enjoyed the friendly banter that I exchange with my friends. However, of late I realised that my social media attachment was starting to become an issue; this was apparent when I would see that little red dot appear and feel that right in that moment there was nothing more important in my life than to check what it meant. Have you heard the saying “If you don’t run the day, the day will run you” well the same could be said with my phone… it was always in arms reach and my notifications were running me.

I have spent the last four weeks actively avoiding regularly checking my Facebook. This made me nervous at first as I didn’t want to feel ‘cut off’ from the connections that I have with loved ones who I don’t see every day, or feel like I would be forgotten if I wasn’t participating in the social banter between friends and groups I belong too. Ridiculous.

I recall thinking to myself one day as I logged on during my train ride home after a couple of hours being offline, was “what have I missed?” It’s quite sad that being more engaged and present in the real world somehow translated to ‘missing out’.

During the week I did something that I was not very proud of this week (no I didn’t kill anyone) but it was outside of my values and I felt a huge pang of guilt after the words escaped my lips and I processed what I had said. I made a negative judgement about a complete stranger based on something I had seen on Facebook. I have never met this stranger and had absolutely no evidence to support this judgement other than seeing an ‘out of the ordinary’ post from them. The conversation took place in a safe space, but my comment was still very unnecessary given I had zero evidence to support my judgement.

After that conversation, I thought about what judgement strangers would make about me who may see my own profile?

I too only share the good times, the wins, the flattering photos, the check-ins at the nice restaurants – no bad hair days or half opened eyes to be seen on my profile. I don’t update my status when I have had a crap workout, or a bad day at work or when I want to curl up and burst into tears. If this was what you were using to judge me by, positive or negative, it would be completely inaccurate.

We never reveal our true selves; we only share what we want to share. I am not suggesting people go out and post every corner of their life on social media, but the lesson I learned was to not be too quick to jump to conclusions about another person based on the small snapshot that they choose to share online. Human are intricate creatures that no status update, happy selfie or dinner check in would ever be able to do justice to.

Have you ever been bothered or annoyed by something you had seen on Facebook? A photo or a post that took occupancy in your mind for much longer than it should? Me too – when I acknowledged that this was happening a little too regularly for my liking, I decided to turn my notifications off and put the phone away.

This decision enabled me to direct my energy in other areas; in the last four weeks where I have not spent my time scrolling, I have managed to read 1 and a half books, completed two personal development modules, drafted some articles for the Terrific Fitness newsletter, completed a nutrition assignment, read two weeks’ worth of assignment notes and written this little article – Yes, I got productive!

I’m won’t be jumping off the Facebook train; I am just going to exercise a little more control over the role that it plays in my life… I will continue to post, to share my photos and enjoy friendly banter with my friends and family ….. but, I will also make plans to catch up with friends, pick up the phone just so I can hear a loved one’s voice, enjoy a good book and live and enjoy my real life, not through a screen or a filter…but through my own eyes.

To the person who I unfairly judged, I truly apologise. I wish you all the best and hopefully one day I have the opportunity to get to know the real you.

– Danielle Fancellu

(Wellness Coach)