Wednesday 18 April 2012

facebook: friend or foe?

So, I've been pondering writing a post about social media, and facebook in particular, for a while now, and I've decided today is the day..

Lots of what I've seen/heard regarding the relationship between social media and happiness is fairly negative. In a nutshell these theories go something like this:

That whilst living our lives online we are missing out on living our lives off line. That while paying so much attention to the virtual world we are able to pay less attention to the real world. That by mindlessly following every last status update or tweet we are not being mindful from moment to moment. That by trying to capture and publish everything all the time we're not able to be fully present in it actually happening. You get the idea.

But that's not all.

There is also talk of a certain inferiority complex coming into play, in two ways. Firstly by always seeing everybody else having more friends, more fun and generally more of a life than you and secondly by constantly pressing refresh to check if anybody has 'liked', commented or retweeted you or your stuff in the last few seconds.

That by being 'always on' there is nowhere to hide, to get back to us, and all that jazz.

and I'm sure there's more.

So ok, like all things in life, there are pitfalls to be aware of, and I can recognise at times I have done all of these things myself. There is an element of "will anybody read this/like this/care" with writing a blog in itself, for example, and I must confess to having spent many an evening scrolling up and down facebook trying to find somebody doing something interesting rather than getting up off my arse to do something interesting myself, for example.

BUT. this is because of my already existing issues and complexes and not a fault of social media. It's not facebook's fault if I don't have a life. Its not Instagram's fault if I'm fiddling about choosing filters on my scene rather than being in it for real. It's not twitter's fault that I forget to put my phone on silent and 8million new tweets beep at me all night.  I could have turned it off if I'd wanted/remembered to.

a lovely afternoon arranged on facebook...
But it IS thanks to twitter and its wonderful #s that I have at my fingertips a whole wealth of info, articles and comments that help me write this blog and keep me up to date in my job. It is thanks to LinkedIn that I am part of several huge learning communities and networks I would never have met otherwise. And it is thanks to facebook that not only am I able to find and follow like minded organisations and communities for added inspiration, not only am I able to share updates & photos with my family abroad (when they were abroad), not only am I given a platform to share both my blogs, but it is also thanks to facebook that I am able to get back in touch with friends who otherwise may have been lost to me forever. And I don't care what anybody wants to throw at it, or however much anybody wants to claim that social media is ruining my life, without it my life would have less sharing, less opportunity, less connectedness and at least one less lost and re-found friend.
...with a lovely friend re-found on facebook

And every single bit of happiness science or research would have to agree that these are the very building blocks that make up happiness, not the poison that threatens to undermine it. They certainly make me very happy anyway.

So, facebook, you have my 'like'. I vote friend, not foe.

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