Obviously, I participate in social media. If you are reading this blog, you already know that because the evidence is on the screen in front of you.
I am also very active on Facebook, despite the days when it makes me want to tear my hair out and shriek obscenities into the internet ether. I also use Facebook extensively for work -- I was on it all the time when I worked at Believe in Bristol for checking dates and times for our website event calendar and I do the majority of posts to the museum's Facebook page now.
Back in the day, I tweeted occasionally. I soon found it fairly exhausting -- coming up with clever 140 character snippets is not an easy thing. And now, in theory, I am meant to be doing the museum's Twitter feed too. This has come a lot less naturally to me, however, and I am still struggling with the difference between @BCMM and #BCMM, and when I should actually be using these two preceding symbols. I realize that this reveals that I am not a millenial and, in fact, am firmly in my 40s. Let's just say BCMM's Twitter is a work in progress. I apologize in advance for wrong hashtagging.
I had an Instagram account briefly, but no longer use it because I can't remember my password and can't be bothered to sort out the process of resetting it.
I have even uploaded a few videos to YouTube, though honestly I've only done this when I needed a link to one of my camera's videos for my blog. And after a recent collaboration for a friend's business, I will soon even appear on Vine.
My latest foray into social media has been into Pinterest. I had tried to avoid this for ages because I just knew that it would be a huge time suck, but once I dipped my toes into the Pinterest waters, it seemed only logical to jump all the way in. So far I only have a few boards, including Westies, Dream Home, Exercise, I'm a Big Geek, and Inspiration for Book (one day...), but I can see the potential for the adding of new boards to be never-ending. And I certainly have found a lot of time taken up with looking at things I never knew I was interested in from artsy Christmas trees to muffins made with exotic fruits.
Social media has wonderful positives -- being able to stay in touch with friends far and near, learning new things, sharing our own creativity, stories and views with others, giving a voice to the voiceless, and endless laughs from watching the exploits of puppies and kittens, to name just a few.
But it also has some real issues. I've written before about how I find Facebook to be a disheartening place at times. And the constant sharing of selfies is enough to drive any sane person batty. (And what's up with the selfie while sitting in the car? It's ubiquitous but I don't understand why. Answers on a postcard, please.)
But I think the biggest challenge we face with social media is the way it overtakes our lives and makes us step back from the life that is going on right in front of our faces. We have pictures of our experiences, but no real experience of them. We have conversations and interactions with Facebook "friends," but not with our real ones. We lose hours of our lives with our noses pressed to a small lit screen, even when we are amongst friends and family.
I know that I am guilty of this, as much as the next person. All too often, I can be found sitting at my computer writing a blog post or scrolling through my Facebook feed, gazing out into a beautiful day.
And so I make a promise to myself: To take a few steps away from my virtual life and start living real life a little bit more each day.
* A footnote:
I must admit that I have used social media -- or the semblance of its delivery -- as a social crutch. In other words, when faced with a room full of people I don't know very well or at all, and without a good friend or coworker in sight, I have been known to deal with emails and other important social media-type activities in order to not appear to be as great a wallflower as I actually am. Oh, and I have even faked a phone call in an effort to be less obviously uncool. I am pretty sure that makes me uncool.