Warning… It’s Complicated.
Sorry, had to make that joke.
Anyway, time to talk about my all-time favourite social media platform, Facebook. YEY. That was irony btw. Cause most of the time I can’t stand Facebook and its aggressive ads, annoying videos and mostly mindless news that I just can’t effing stop consuming.
I’m so glad that social media wasn’t a thing when I was at school. Back then, Facebook was something you’d log onto weekly in the library because our home desktop took about 30 minutes to open the AOL home page. It didn’t matter though, because nobody was really saying much. There would just be a handful of friend requests from people at school I’d hardly exchanged two words with, though obvs I knew if they had a boyfriend or were on the hockey team. I seriously don’t envy today’s teenagers, navigating the terrible awkward teen years online as well as IRL. Ugh!
University was where I really hit my Facebook stride. My Freshers’ Week friends and I would bring our digital cameras on every night out and take at least 100 photos of ourselves getting progressively smashed and having the BEST NITE EVA. These would then be published the next day, completely unedited and unfiltered – which meant a lot of anxious de-tagging and Apple Sours regret.
I’ve made it sound horrible, but we were actually having the time of our lives, free and unrestricted.
Facebook was a place that brought together all of your new friends, and their friends who had another friend in common with your housemate, and so on. I suddenly found myself with an active social life for the first time ever, and a lot of that was to do with all of my peers being online and sharing our every waking moments vociferously. I could see what my home friends were up to and spy on who they were hanging out with, while my uni friends and I could message each other during the holidays and make plans for the next big night out on our return.
We’d stalk our crushes and always refer to them in conversations by their FULL NAME Facebook profiles, as though they were typed in all caps.
Facebook was a fun place to revel in the highs and lows of student life, which we all shared collectively in our utopia of hangovers, deadlines and banter. But then we graduated, and real life happened.
What happens when a group of students who are all clustered together in their cosy bubble suddenly disperse out across the country to the places they left three years ago? The answer seemed to be: panic. Lots of us had very tough and anxious times the year after graduating. We were either fighting it out for jobs, slaving away in unpaid internships, or continuing the student dream on Masters courses; perhaps taking a ‘gap yah’ to travel, spending the majority of the time fretting about what to do when real life would inevitably catch up.
This was all temporary of course, but it meant that social media suddenly went silent. We were separated, living different lives and the ones who weren’t having the best time didn’t want to tell Facebook how miserable they were. There became a competitive element too – which of us would ‘make it’ in our dream careers and which of us would be forced to go back to working in our home town Sainsburys?
This meant that we got into the habit of restricting ourselves to ‘Best Bits’ on Facebook – announcing the exciting new job, or posting glossy travel pics, or cutesy relationship updates which meant that the 90% of people behind the screen felt even worse about themselves.
Five or so years later, now that we’re over the early graduate years and have the jobs, and the flats, and the boyfriends and the what have you – I’m actually back to loving social media. There’s less judgement, less comparison, and more general LOLs again.
But for the LONGEST time, and even now if I’m honest – I was scared to post anything that might be seen as “bragging”, or “self-promotion”, or even anything that was too personal and not light, witty or casual. Because I worry about those first Facebook friends from years past peering into my brain and judging me. Which is why I rarely post blog content on there – it makes me feel exposed and open to attack (ironic since I have no problem with Twitter, the platform renowned for trolling!)
I’m aware that this post is beginning to get VERY rambly and I’m not quite sure what the point of it was in the first place… I think it was really just to say that we’re very much still in our “toddler phase” of social media and that if you’re as confused about it as I am then you’re not alone!
I’d love to hear from you about social media – do you love it, hate it, go through phases like me? Are you cool with strangers reading your work but bristle at the thought of someone you’re close to casting their critical eye? Have you ever felt self-conscious of what you post online, or do you think I’m just being a hyper-sensitive lunatic? Talk to me friends!