As an avid social media user since opening my Facebook account in 2007, in recent weeks I have been coming to a growing realisation: That social media is not that, erm, social.
When I think back nine years, to the days before owning a smartphone (the first iPhone was not launched until June 2007) but had a perfectly adequate vintage mobile, my memories feature that phone ringing and pinging with calls and texts regularly. These days, my phone doesn’t seem so active.
Then, I always went over my mobile phone contract’s inclusive calls and texts allowance. Now, I only make a few minutes of calls and send a handful of texts each month, although admittedly I use Whatsapp for texting instead.
What is the reason for my overall phone usage decreasing so dramatically? I can only put it down to social media. I don’t have fewer friends than in 2007 – in fact, I would say I have more – but now I can see what most of them are up to by scrolling on Facebook it does mean I don’t have to make any particular effort to get in touch. Being increasingly busy also means I don’t always have time to make or take phone calls. This means even my mother and I most frequently converse using Facebook messenger.
But is all this a good or a bad thing? That is the question I have been asking myself these past weeks, and I’ve had to conclude I miss the more ‘personal’ interaction of years gone by.
Saying that, this past weekend reminded me how social media can sometimes come into its own.
My husband was home for a flying visit in the middle of his latest deployment and we were keen to share some news with our world. Having already told family and close friends, we took a selfie while waiting for his return flight at RAF Brize Norton departures and posted the picture on Facebook, along with an explanatory status. Within hours it had been ‘liked’ 250 times and gained nearly 150 comments. That one status made me feel more connected to some of my friends and acquaintances than in years.
And what was the big reveal? That I am ‘with child’.
I will endeavour not to be a baby bore from now on – but I make no promises!