As a tiny sapling, I found myself growing in a world which was dominated by the internet and all the wonders it brought. When I hit teenage-hood I found myself coaxed into the online revolution of social media. I was young, impressionable, with a short attention span and my friends were very important to me. There was MySpace, that was a big deal, then there were others, but none of them really made much of an impact, but finally there was Facebook, the big daddy.
I remember the days I used to be on Facebook – posting pictures, sharing funny videos, updating statuses, writing unimportant things on my friends’ walls. It was a world within a world. Relationships and friendships were made and broken through it. The drama was endless. You had this great opportunity to get back in touch with old school friends you should have long forgotten about. It was marketed as a platform to connect people together. It was great…and then I left.
It was probably a Friday – life-changing events tend to happen to me on Fridays – and I was on Facebook. I hadn’t logged in for a while and my wall was full of ‘friends’ who were trying to suss out if I was lying dead in a ditch somewhere. Mind you, these were the people who didn’t feel the need to call or text my phone to calm their anxious and caring nerves. As I sat there thinking of my reply to each individual, I had an epiphany: why am I letting my private life become so public?
My business was my business. A ‘newsfeed’ of seriously unimportant updates on lunches, pictures of babies, and superficial chatter about love and friendship were not things that interested me. I had a high number of ‘friends’ on the internet, but only a handful of genuine friends I saw and spoke to in real life. So in a bid to be honest to myself I decided to delete my account. And that was that.
The internet days of the past had people connecting through blogs and forums, where your opinion was heard and respected. People became friends because they shared the same interests and had interesting things to say. If you wanted to be heard you had to have a really well-thought out point to make. Unfortunately, those days were cut short when social networking platforms were born. These sites required your name, your picture, your location – so you can be identified by people who knew you and people who were complete strangers. They wanted picture posts of you and your life so people could click their approval and comment on how “OMG!” they were. Suddenly, you became a performer, with your own spotlight and your very own audience.
After ditching my old internet past, I never once felt the allure of it again. I had my life all to myself again and I was enjoying the privacy. Without the invisible pressure I was able to explore new things and create once again. When I first started the illustrated moment blog, I felt like I lacked the free advertisement social media provides you, because I no longer had online friends to share it with. Then WordPress prompted me to make a Twitter account. I did. I had spent years purifying my soul from the pressures of social networking sites, and here I was – signed up and feeling inadequate. I tried tweeting a couple of times, some were about my blog which is my passion, and some were of more useless stuff, but it just felt like I was shouting out loud in a large hall buzzing with other people’s conversation. I had signed up to have a new way for people to discover my work and communicate with me about their ideas and opinions, but instead I realised I didn’t need the 140 characters allowance to spell out ‘humiliation’.
Maybe I’m using it wrong, because not being a member of a social networking site for a couple of years ages you by about a millennia in internet times. Maybe I need to be patient. Maybe I need to have a little more faith. All I know is, having zero followers and lacking the desire to tweet everyday boring activities, makes me a little bit concerned. I write the way I speak – a lot. If I am able to make my point in under 700 words, consider that a very efficient day! That’s why I love blogging. I talk as I want to talk and stumble upon other interesting blogs and people who have opinions of their own, and we all sit and chat over a metaphorical cup of tea. Even if I’m not very good at Twitter and other platforms, I can’t help but admire those who are – clearly their creative strengths are in different areas to mine. So, each to their own I suppose – live and let live I guess. I’m going to hold on to the hope that as illustrated moment continues to grow, the social networking sites I sign up to will give you magical people a quicker, easier and more suitable way of getting in touch to ask your questions, praise or even criticise (please be gentle).