Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Too sociable?

Some days I spend quite some time lurking around on social media sites. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Words with Friends, texting, email, my blog. And I love it. I am definitely a sociable kinda girl, and I love my gadgets. I remember the excitement I felt over my very first Motorola mobile phone; it was a brick with a battery that depleted before you even reversed out the driveway. The numbers looked similar to that of a calculator screen and there was no such thing as text messaging let alone internet access. How did we ever survive without mobile phones? How could I get from my office to home on my 12 minute journey without hearing from my husband at least once? What would people do if they could not reach someone right now? Has the increase in social media been a good thing?
Some days I think not. I found at one point I had got so caught up in checking this and that on my iPhone that I would find myself getting somewhat detached from the ‘real world’, from the real live moment. My 10 year old son even banned my iPhone from his room when we are playing games or reading together. I appreciate why. Even though I can be looking at him while he is talking to me and I look like I am paying attention, while I am actually engaging in my phone I am not really engaging with him. I am good at multi-tasking but assigning thoughts to two places at one time is not really engaging in either one fully. Half-assed engaging maybe.
In the thick of it I was waking up and checking *Facebook. I was checking it during my lunch break, after work, as I got home from work, as I was cooking dinner. And essentially any spare moment was consumed with quick browsing of my iPhone. Imagine if you will me scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed not really reading too much detail about each individual post but picking up key words – ‘migraine’, ‘annoyed’, ‘happy’, ‘3 sleeps’. I found some days my head was SO full of information that I was reading online that it was simply exhausting. My spare quiet moments had started to become 'busy', with a highway of information travelling through my mind.
So recently I started dedicating time to interact on my iPhone and set times to disconnect from technology. I give myself 15 minutes before bed to have a final glimpse at Instagram and Facebook then I turn it off. I have in the past found myself lying in bed bantering with friends on Facebook until the wee hours. This is of course a lot of fun then and there however not so much at 6.30am when the alarm goes off. I no longer check Facebook first thing in the morning, I avoid checking it during my lunch break most days. Sometimes on the weekend I make a pact with myself that I will only check Facebook on the pc, avoiding the urge to keep glancing at my phone multiple times throughout the day. I recently deactivated my personal Facebook page for a few days as a self-imposed detox after I discovered I was taking on what everyone else was doing and my head was about to implode with too much information. When I noticed I had started to take on comments and become affected by posts not even intended for me I realised it was heading in the wrong direction. After I reactivated my personal account I decided to ‘hide’ some people (that sounds so un-friendly, although I am certain many have hidden over-sharing, overly optimistic me) that I found were updating frequently with the same negatively draining message - comments that are aggressive in nature, incessant ‘woe-is-me’ comments with no action to alter the underlying cause, and especially racist-tinged comments that I just cannot help BUT comment on and work myself up over. Such comments are not part of why I started to love the social aspect of Facebook in the beginning, so I find doing without them only makes Facebook more enjoyable for me again.
Since making these changes, putting in boundaries so to speak, I have found my head reclaimed that space for enjoying the small moments again. I am sociable, there is no doubt about that. But I do not need to know what everyone is doing all of the time. I have found Facebook has once again become what it started out as for me; a light airy-fairy way to have a bit of fun socialising. Nothing too serious. Isn’t that after all what it should be about?
Now as I sit and read or play games with my Little Man I am enjoying the look on his face, or actually listening to his chatter and responding with full engagement. He no longer comments that I am always on my iPhone. And that there is worth more than all the social media one sociable girl can handle!

Have you ever had to place a self-imposed ban on technology to reconnect with the real world?

* Note: Facebook refers to my personal Facebook profile, not my Facebook page. As my Facebook page is part of my new love of blogging my lack of interest in Facebook recently discludes my page. The newsfeed of my Facebook page is thoroughly read daily and none of my 'likes' are hidden.


  1. It does all become a bit much at times.
    I feel that if my real life (and the people in it day to day) are in any way suffering because of my online life, then it's time to pull back on the virtual world.
    This brilliant technology we enjoy should complement our actual lives - not destroy them.
    It's another one of life's balancing acts, isn't it.
    Good on you for monitoring yourself and taking action.
    (Oh - the constant, repeated, unnecessary whinging on FB is just irritating & depressing!)

  2. My husband totally said "You still have to have real life conversations" to me when he got my my first iPhone. We are totally addicted, but I make a conscious effort to put it away when I am interacting with the baby. I don't want her to always see it around. I love knowing what's going on online, part of it because I'm a journalist and part of it because I'm curious. Admittedly I've not been on my personal Facebook in ages because I just don't get anything from it, but I have two Twitter accounts and I need to read EVERYTHING that is tweeted so I don't miss anything. And as for Instagram... I thought I took too many photos before, being a blogger and all. Now I'm photographing photographs of my photographs. Sigh.

    Having said that, I've been strict about putting the laptop away and sitting with a book lately. In the bath, or outside in the sunshine... I want to get back to my first love.

  3. Wow, you always write such interesting, thought provoking posts Peggy. I really enjoyed this. Hate to say it, but you sounded like you had a bit of an obsession going there. I think I'm pretty bad, but I never check Facebook from bed. I guess it helps that I don't have an iphone too. I am however, a little obsessed with my laptop and check Facebook and my blog and email alot during the day. Though I have banned myself from any morning action. Has to be after midday when I switch the computer on. I guess this is a self imposed ban of sorts ;o)
    Wow, it's an interesting topic. I guess we're all just technology junkies these days. But you're right, nothing can make up for good, quality, one on one time with people.
    And hey, I had one of those brick phones... an old Nokia, quite hilarious to think of how cumbersome they used to be!

  4. That's exactly right Shar, the technology should compliment our lives, not rule it. I have definitely overstepped that mark a few times!

  5. Stacey you are also a sociable lass, and we sociable lasses need to socialise!

    I do like twitter, you can scroll through numerous tweets quite quickly and respond without it being too time consuming. Instagram and blogging are my two newest techno-loves, I could gaze at them all day! Alas, I do set times for them too. I find I concentrate more on what I am reading when I have dedicated time for them too.

    You can't get much better than a good book in the sunshine. You sound like you have a good balance there sassy-girl! :)

  6. Thanks Julie. You might have noticed that I have SOME thoughts going on some days! Other days it is all pretty pictures! haha

    You are right on, I was definitely obsessed. I still am but not near as much as I used to be. I can fight the urge now to do the constant checking like I used to. I think if the real world and our interaction with people in the flesh suffers as a result of overuse of technology then there is an issue, but if we are involved in both in a balanced manner then I think that's ok. Whatever feels right for the individual I guess.

    Your self-imposed 'no tech before noon' is a good one. That's balance right there. :)

  7. I'm so glad I'm not the only one with this issue :-} I started my blog this year, then added Twitter into an already busy Facebook and Google+ mix. I know that I use social media too much, and that it impacts on my family. It is the stress of the imperative that gets me: "what if I miss something important and I let someone down?!"

    So I valued your idea of having designated social media times. Thanks Peggy.

    I try to have one day a week as a media 'fast'. I basically set aside a day and a night when I don't open my laptop, and I have my iPod offline. It's nice. But the day after is still an issue...I need to learn how to let go and not try madly to catch up on what I may have missed!

  8. Sally that is exactly what I think, I just HAVE to respond and keep the communication going. I just can't help it!

    I actually wake up 30 minutes earlier now since I started blogging to enjoy reading my blogger newsfeed. I also spend an hour at night, but since I don't watch television at all I see that as my downtime. I do look at the time and make sure I get off the pc when I promise myself I will. It seems to keep it somewhat controlled. Kind of. The day per week of media fast is a great idea! I might have to try that.

    Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

  9. I've read quite a number of posts along this vein the past couple of weeks and they've touched a nerve with me because it's helped me realise that's how I was feeling too. I've been seriously blogging, tweeting, doing FB, etc for about the same time as you and there seems to be so much to do to get off the ground. It's addictive and yet deep down most of us have released the impact it can have on our real lives and our family. I don't want my girls to grow up only remembering mum and dad on the I-gadgets.

  10. It seems you are in a similar mindset as I am Veronica; I enjoy the social media aspects and I enjoy the amount of time I get to spend on it, but don't want it encroaching on quality family time. I think there is a way to have a balance of both, and let's face it, we are still individuals that need quality 'me' time. So if that time for yourself is spent enjoying social media, it can't be all that bad right? It seems you are aware of the boundaries and therefore I think you will submit yourself to the quality family moments when needed.

    I know by even just popping my phone away while I am playing games with my son I am definitely more 'present', and he complains less as he doesn't see me grabbing the phone every spare minute.

    Let me know how you go with the balancing of it all. And thanks so much for dropping in. :)


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