The Social Media Balance
As much as I love writing, 12 months ago I felt the need to withdraw from social media and take a step back to re-focus. Pandemic fatigue played a part in this which I know many have felt but I had a daily feeling of being swallowed by my phone and everything going on around me. What started out as a couple of weeks break from socials became a habit and I started to notice a physical and mental difference. The way of the world has progressed and the benefits of sharing, researching and exploring online has huge benefits but for a greyer and darker side. It’s not news to hear of the darker side of social media and its harmful affects, but on a lighter level the consuming nature of simply running a business, being a student or looking to keep abreast of professional content and networks can be exhausting. The balance, in my opinion, is not always easy to strike and I certainly believe that some are able to achieve it better than others.
In the 1990's when I went to school, and obviously before, the world of education and communication was very different. School was books, pen, paper and a blackboard or whiteboard in the fancy schools. College in 1998-1999 was progressing into a computer world but I still had to plug in the internet, run it under my door and wait for the 'dial in tone' to do my college work! My first degree at Leeds Met doing Sports Science involved countless hours of time in the Library Journal Room heaving large, bounded journals off shelves with countless hours of readying, photocopying and highlighting to get enough quotes and citations for my work. By the time I reached my Physiotherapy degree at Sheffield Hallam in 2004 we were fully emersed into the 21st century with Google Scholar, PowerPoints and emails with Microsoft Messenger taking full priority for social engagement. I could now spend all nighters finishing assignments in the comfort of my own room in the last minute. com nature of most of my academic life ;). Mobile phones were coming into life around 1998 but requirements to remember numbers in order to dial or text friends was not uncommon and there wasn't a photo or video in site.
Texts were as exciting as it got in this simple late 90's world and I can't express enough the sheer joy of completing school, college and my first university degree with NO phone photos, videos social media, FB, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok!!!! Praise everything and everyone! I do however have some fantastic real photographs from that era when nightclubs, £1 drinks and being 18 didn't always go well together! I feel so much for subsequent generations who certainly embrace the new social media world we live in but must find it incredibly hard and challenging at times. The pressure to have to put everything out there as well as a requirement in order to simply communicate with friends and clubs, must be intense at times. Some of course, will breeze through and love every minute, but there will be some that find this world invasive, difficult and challenging at the very least. Across a child and adult world, we do need to embrace the change and move with the times in order to evolve, learn, develop and progress, but are we doing enough to monitor and look after some who find this media world intense and difficult?
Personally, after about 12 months of stepping back, writing less, putting less out there and putting my phone down, I feel I have gained a natural balance and am able to engage or withdraw when needed to ensure self-preservation and presence in the real world. Not only that, but the benefit from sitting back and taking things in has hugely helped my own anxiety, mental health and decision making in all walks of life.
Socials and media are an incredible part of life and certainly in the industry I work in have allowed progression, sharing and collaborative working to push the profession forwards in a positive way. We live in a world that now lives and breathes all forms of media, technology and video but let’s not forget to take time out in the real world and take a thought for people behind the media, stories and videos who may need someone to check in and ensure on a human level that everything is OK!