Social media – when does it switch off?

…because ever since I launched a certain purple baby dragon fairy onto Twitter, I’ve struggled to ‘turn my mind off.’ It’s also had a devastating impact on my ability to maintain levels of concentration over long periods of time – which is saying something given that I have a short attention span anyway. Hence my desire to do something about it.

There were a number of things that is driving what sometimes feels like an ‘addiction’ to social media.

The first was from my commuting days. Spending 3 hours a day every weekday on the train left a lot of potential “downtime” – and many a commute would be spent half-asleep. (I never actually missed my stop on all of those journeys, which was more down to luck than anything else).

The second was the result of connecting with like-minded people who lived far away from me. By “like-minded” I mean having a similar interest in a number of things, rather than having the same views on those things. Ever met someone who, say, supports the same football club as you, supports the same political party as you and even has similar tastes in food as you, only to find that you don’t get on at all? I met a now former-Tory MP some years ago who told me that across the Commons there are some genuine friendships between MPs from different parties – and genuine animosities between MPs from the same parties. (We only get to find out after elections that bring new parties to power – when the memoirs let rip).

The third was the sheer amount of new interesting stuff that I was randomly finding out from people – and the worry of missing out on something ‘important’ if I wasn’t monitoring my social media accounts.

The final one – a more recent one – has been an expectations one. How often do people expect me to post a new blogpost? On what topics? When should and shouldn’t I be ‘connected’? Am I always to have an opinion on anything and everything? Can’t I sometimes just turn around and say “Meh…tumbleweed”?

Constantly being connected has had an impact on my sleep patterns – my brain is always ‘buzzing’ with stuff…thoughts, ideas, anger, frustration, hopes, dreams, regrets, sounds, music…and general ‘noise’. Sometimes I just want to flick a switch and turn the whole thing off and just chill. (Not easy living on a main road at a time when young men think it sensible to get cars/mopeds with souped-up motors and to annoy the rest of us).

The past couple of months have been this strange cycle of eating, sleeping, swimming and tweeting. With the new academic term starting, spending less time attached to twitter and spending more time meeting the demands of the courses that I am starting will be all the more important – especially as for several of these, they will be forming the basis of the post-civil service world that I am moving into. I’ve got fairly firm ideas on the things that I want to work on and visions in my mind of what these will look like, but the challenge is how to get there. For example wanting to be uber-familiar with things like WordPress, Dreamweaver, Illustrator and Photoshop but not really being at the stage where I’m doing anything more than what I was doing previously on my old PC.

Again, the books are all there – I’ve spent quite a bit of time and money acquiring the learning materials of the things that I want to learn. But as my sister said, a lot of this sort of creative/digital media work is self-taught. Hence where the shortening attention span becomes a major barrier. It is this along with needing a spark – people to be around with on a regular basis (hence the courses) that I think I need to get a number of projects properly motoring. So if I’m blogging less, or if you see Puffles tweeting at a lower frequency than usual, you’ll know why. If the frequencies of both increase, then I’m doing something wrong. (Please warn me if it’s the latter!)


6 thoughts on “Social media – when does it switch off?

  1. I think it’s addictive, actually. Internet interaction is like a drug – it stimulates the brain, giving a sort of “high”. And not just social media. My other half doesn’t use social media but spends hours every day surfing, finding interesting things to read. I use twitter much the same way – as a mine of information – but I think I spend far too much time on twitter. I’m aware that at times I’m not “present” when my kids want to talk to me about their day or ask me for help with their homework: also housework doesn’t get done, real work gets neglected, social activities are curtailed. And everyone’s ratty when they’ve been on the internet for a long time – whether it’s social media or surfing. I’m considering imposing a serious limit on my internet use, both social media and surfing. In the end, real life isn’t on the internet. It’s the people around you, the environment in which you live, the work you do. And I’m becoming aware that when I spend too much time messing around on the internet, all of these suffer.

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