11407305_1608362226047305_7497342053896220895_nI am a self-confessed facebook addict but as you can see from my picture, I do get out of the house.  That addiction has been with me for nearly eight years and it’s not going away and at the minute I’m not going to fight it.  It’s what I like doing and let us face it, I’m not actually injecting myself with drugs.  However, I’m not a silly girl in the sense that I know and I’m very much aware of the negativity regarding facebook and other such social media sites.

We don’t actually know all of the time whether our privacy is being respected.  Sure on facebook we have the privacy settings but so many leaks to media suggest that our data that we input is looked at and can be got hold of.  It can be so off putting to people that they don’t actually put anything on their social media sites – which then defeats the object of social media, but it is each to their own.  And I’ve always been amused by people who complain about social media and what people write.  It’s an easy solution.  Nobody has to read anything of anybody else’s.  It’s their wall and actually as long as they’re not breaking the law then they can do what they like.  That’s freedom of speech and really we have a right to respect it.  Then of course there are the complaining people who will say “Oh you’re on social media so much.”  and you know that when you check your chat boxes that they’re on it too, they just haven’t thought up anything to actually status up date about or they feel a little conscious.

For the likes of me who likes to write and pretty much has an opinion on most things.  Social media is a form of self expression.  We go on, we rant to our friends, we tell funny stories and they comment.  It’s a great way of keeping in contact.  I started on facebook eight years ago and all of a sudden found myself back in contact with friends who I hadn’t seen for sixteen years due to me moving away from my life and starting afresh at just seventeen.  Social media has been such a joy in that respect, their updates and their photos have kept me at a close point that I feel like I’ve got to know them again.  The way they write their status updates giving me a view of their personalities, some of which have changed over time.  It’s a great place to find empathy when friends are going through difficult times, when somebody is honest and writes a rant, many of us can sit and think, yes, I feel like that too.  The groups and discussions are a great place for many to not feel alone.  We can become involved with group discussions that previously we would not have had access too. Plus there is no intimidation of actually turning up, we can sit in our pyjamas and happily type away – type out an opinion on the newsfeed and see who likes it or what random person is going to join the discussion.  Somebody who without social media we wouldn’t engage with.  Then of course there is the joy of our friendships, watching people’s journeys and celebrating their something good.

For parents it’s a great place for people to actually have fun contact and for me while a stop at home mum and single parent it was a place of escape from the everyday.  It’s also cheap. Without it, on the days when my children were younger, in bed early and I was stuck in, I don’t know how I would have coped.  There is only so much cleaning, tv watching and book reading that a person can take without feeling the need to interact.  My only regret is that I hadn’t discovered mumsnet sooner.  Since being on that site and keeping logged in with the latest news and discussions.  I’ve interacted with so many mums and realised that there are others going through exactly the same as what I have been through.  For me it’s nice to come out of the other side of the journey and actually comment to give them reassurance.  Just a simple ‘I’ve been there too, it gets better.’ Is sometimes all that people need to hear.

But of course with social media and sites such as mumsnet we have the risks of putting our opinions across for others to read.  Not everybody will agree with our opinions, our jokes, our photo’s or our rants.  But that’s ok, we don’t write it to please others unless we’re trying to impress our friends and actually writing what we choose is an air of honesty which is tremendously good for health.  We do it because it’s our own wall and really another person is free to not look at it.  Of course there is a danger that it might offend.  Or somebody will go and tell tale – in my case I have an ex husband and if you share friends (they had to go) quite often your antics are relayed, but does that really matter? He’s not my boss.  They always say that in this life you can count your good friends on one hand so telling 999 friends on facebook might not be the way forward for many, especially if you care what others think. If you don’t and you’re pretty thick skinned then type away.  It’s certainly a good way of wheedling the friendships.

Jeremy Kyle blames facebook for relationship breakdowns, he could be right when you consider the amount of ‘snaking’ that goes on in the chat boxes and it is a great way for a potential ‘snake’ to find out all your information to use the right words to impress you. But those relationships were doomed without facebook – facebook is just another avenue to pursue and access.  Off the other side, not everybody is bad, if you’re single then facebook is no different than a dating site, you’re not going to meet somebody by not socialising and social media is another way and another option of looking broader than your circle.

So back to whether social media is harmless or harmful to your health? I guess at times it’s pretty bad but then so is smoking, drinking, partying or anything else that’s addictive and to many fun. (Talking about smoking, I’m waiting for the date to be confirmed of an opinion that’s going in ‘That’s Life’ magazine on whether nursery workers should be employed in their job if they are smokers – I shall keep you updated.)  If it stops you feeling lonely, you’re actively engaging and learning  and weighing up from the many opinions then it not a bad thing at all.  Just make sure that you take time to embark on the realities of life and decide what you are using it for and use the relevant social media site for your needs.

So back to my facebook addiction.  I can’t see it stopping for the time being.  I guess as my children get older still and my life becomes more my own.  It’ll gently fizzle out and until then… I remain addicted and will continue to do my thing.