For the love of social media

Lots of people moan about social media. They moan about the self-indulgence, the over-sharing, the humble-bragging, the fake-living, and the lack of ‘real’ interaction.

Once upon a time, I would have completely agreed with them but these days I find it positively wonderful.

For the long distance loves 

Sadly, not all of my friends and family live within half an hour of my front door. They’re in America and Canada and Australia, they’re in the North and the South and the East and the West and I don’t see them nearly as much as I’d like.

My sister is currently up at 4am to participate in some hardcore (terrifying) martial arts thing in Sydney. She spends her weekends on the beach living a life I don’t know, but her Insta Stories are ideal. I see her sweating in martial arts training, see her revelling in the sunshine; it makes me feel like I’m there, like she’s here, like we’re actually not that far apart. Similarly, my sister-in-law is in Iowa and, this year, gave birth to her fourth baby. The way she uses Facebook is absolutely perfect. Nothing is airbrushed, filtered, bragged or blasted – it’s just “this is our life”. I feel like I’m part of it, and I will be forever grateful that I get to see her and her brood each day.

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For the growth of your little ones 

I know many who think that WhatsApp is destroying conversation. We don’t talk or interact in the way we once did, and so we’re not as close to our friends as we once were. One of my best friends and I used to be spend hours on the phone, and now we’re lucky if we can fit in a monthly phone call. For ages I worried we were drifting apart, until I realised we’re still as close, it’s just that communication has changed. Our quick WhatsApp chats means we’re still there for each other for a rant or to share a laugh.

Two of my favourite people have just had babies; one is half an hour away, the other is three hours away. I don’t see them nearly as much as I want to, but WhatsApp means I get daily photos of their little ones beaming into the camera at me. I get a quick snapshot and a “Morning Auntie Sarah!” whilst I’m sat in the office and instantly I feel like I’m not missing out. To a passer by, you see my head in my phone and think I’m being antisocial but, to me, I’m being super-social with the people who matter, and I’m right in the middle of my best friend’s lives.

For the spoonie support 

I’ve had a chronic illness for eight years, and since the days of social media I have been surrounded by people who understand my illness. I have never felt alone, never felt like the only person navigating the world of chronic illness. I go onto Facebook, Twitter or Insta and search for spoonie hashtags and instantly I’m surrounded by people who ‘get it’, people who know it, people who live it. They’re vocal, they’re inspirational, sometimes they’re a little emotional; the point is: it’s never just me. It’s all of us.

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For the hot topics 

I watch breakfast news every single day and I read the news on my phone on journeys to and from work. I get the headlines and I get the top stories, but that’s not always what people are talking about. One visit to Twitter and I find out about a whole bunch of stuff that is happening all over the world that I would have no idea about if it wasn’t for social media. Admittedly, some of it’s utter crap but some of it’s a split-second of glory that I just wouldn’t know otherwise. Like the time a 10 year old boy with Asperger’s wrote this poem for school, or the time someone caught this excellent link between George Osborne’s new job and Theresa May’s press conference, or the time someone set up this account to heavily publicise each one of The Sun’s apologies for printing lie after lie.

For the sharing 

Did you know I’m going to Canada in less than two weeks? Did I mention that? I’ve decided that whilst we’re away I’m going to share a ‘photo of the day’ on Instagram – follow me here if you don’t already. I’m sure many people think I should just leave my phone in a drawer and stay offline for 3 weeks but firstly, that ain’t me, and secondly, I don’t want to. There are times when I need silence, like when I’m about to burn out and I go to a remote country cottage and am thankful for the lack of phone signal, but this is not one of those trips. This is a trip where I want to indulge in my love of photography and get creative in the ways that I share stories; it’s a trip I want to shout about and damnit I’m gonna.

Also (mini rant coming up…) I often find that the people who moan about the crap on social media are the ones who have an account but don’t interact. They don’t like, they don’t comment or share; they just log on and scroll. You know if we all did that, you’d have nothing to scroll through right? You’d have a blank news feed with nothing but adverts. Be grateful for your friends that are keeping you company whilst you wait for your friend to arrive at the pub. So there.

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I feel like I should end with something profound, but, I don’t have anything. I guess the point of this was, Oi! Haters! Stop hating on social media! x