On 30th December 2019 I posted the following message on Instagram along with a photo of my children and I.
“Happy New Year to all. I’m taking 2020 off social media (here and Facebook). See you in 2021”
I haven’t made it to the end of 2020 without returning to social media, but I have given it a good run. Almost eight months in the wilderness has been revelatory.
I wrote before about life through a social media lense. About how we’re all so glued to a small screen that we miss the big world around us:
Standing there with my boy’s arms around my neck just watching the display I realised that this is what is important. It’s not about what we can commit to electronic memory to be forgotten as soon as it’s happened, it’s about what we can feel and remember. What we can share with those people who matter to us.
So next time you experience something. Next time there is an event. Put away your phone. Hold those who matter to you close, and simply enjoy the sensation of sharing a time and place. You’ll get more from that act of intimacy than you ever will from your Instagram picture or your tweet.
The self-imposed ban gave me an opportunity to reassess what is important in life. These are the things I’ve learned:
Do not judge your popularity by your friends list. Many social media ‘friends’ are just numbers on a screen. True friends will remain true even if they cannot click ‘like’ on your Facebook post.
Do not compare yourself to Instagram ‘models’. For every selfie that makes it onto Instagram a hundred are rejected. People only let you see what you want them to see. If you compare your just woke up bed hair to the thrice-filtered selfie on the small screen you’ll never realise just how beautiful you are.
There is no such thing as a perfect family. For every wonderful day trip there’s five days of domestic chores and workplace boredom.
People are brave from behind their keyboards. Happy to threaten and abuse when anonymous; cowardly in person.
Life is not a popularity contest. Better to have five true pals than a legion of fair weather friends.
Twitter is not life. You’re beautiful regardless of what Instagram tells you. Facebook is irrelevant. You are not your follower count.