A Complicated Relationship With Social Media

At the end of the school holidays we went away on a camping trip with a rather large group of friends………..about 70 of us I think.

They’re friends from university that we rarely see at any other time through the year. We all have kids and jobs and trying to meet up just becomes another one of those jobs that can be hard to get round to when you’re all busy.

So Family Camp was born. A chance for us all to catch up and see which of our offspring is going to follow in their parents wayward adventurous footsteps………..turns out there might be a few.

But this isn’t about family camp it’s about our perception of people through the eyes of social media.

Most of us who go to Family Camp use Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Linkedin. We see each other throughout the year via only what we post on there.

Some are regular poster’s, some loiter in the background viewing what everyone else is doing through the anonymous eyes of the internet.

I realised when I got to family camp I only post outdoor swimmy things. On social media it appears that’s all that I do. And I appear to do a lot of it. Almost as if it takes up all of my life. I learnt that my posts inspire people to want to do stuff but also make them feel guilty that they’re sat on their bums flicking through Facebook rather than doing cool stuff.

It was a very odd realisation.

I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I love that I can keep in touch with lots of people and see what they’re up to when time or geography just doesn’t allow us to see people in person. I like the information sharing, I’m not averse to a humorous meme.

On the flip side I’m regularly jealous of the exciting stuff other people are doing. It makes me feel crappy that I’m sat on my bum flicking through Facebook instead of being out doing cool stuff or achieving awesome things.

Oh hang on! That sounds familiar.

A lot of people feel like that about social media it turns out. Finding that balance between enjoying it as opposed to letting it lead you into a spiral of jealousy and mild depression is hard to find.

I often take a break from it. Uninstall it from my phone when I realise it’s putting me in a crappy mood or I’m becoming addicted to checking it every few minutes.

Slowly, slowly I eek back on. Posting things because I want to share them with friends, because I’m proud of what I do and because I want others to be able to enjoy swimming like I do. But part of me feels that that’s slightly show offy and I hate myself a little for it in the process. That’s just not who I think I am!

Whenever people comment in person to me about the swimming I share I always counter it with “but I have a very normal life the rest of the time”. I do all the normal shit too. Swimming takes up an incredibly small proportion of my life. I do it because it’s a bloody great distraction and escape from the mundanity of my normal life as mum, swimming teacher, housekeeper, taxi service and general dogsbody.

I’m not completely clear about what the purpose of this blog is. Whether it’s to “show off” that I’m just a normal person behind the swimmy stuff or a shout out that it’s normal that social media might make you feel a bit shit sometimes or encouragement to others that they could also do some stuff and post it on social media if they fancy and create a fictitious façade for the themselves 😉

I guess what I am really trying to get at is don’t get bogged down in the amazing lives other people portray in public. You never really know what’s going on in the background, either how hard or boring their life is or what amazing things they might be achieving in life that they choose not to share out loud like me.

We’re all human. We were all different from the moment we were conceived. Everybody thinks differently as well as looks different. I’m learning, over time, to give myself a break and accept that. That trying to compare yourself to others rarely gets you anywhere. To live in my own skin and my own head as me and no-one else.

I’ll continue to have a love hate relationship with social media I’m sure but I’m trying to remember that what we see is rarely the full story.

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