I guess I’m old-fashioned: I don’t see the internet as something that’s ever-present and instantly accessible; for me it’s something I can still walk away from because that’s pretty much how I first experienced it. It’s also how 20th-century boy here still relates to it.
I can’t stand talking on phones at the best of times, so I’ve never really felt compelled to use a smartphone in recent years. I’m on a pay-as-you-go service that was last topped up sometime in 2015 and still has almost all of that (small amount of) money left in it. So no, I don’t take the internet with me.
Some of my friends are amazed I’ll still use a landline instead of the latest iPhone, but I seem to get by. I just prefer to contact people when I choose to, rather than being instantly available. I suppose this makes me selfish, but for others it might be a way of increasing social value by limiting supply. If you have a friend who doesn’t post much on social media, you might pay more attention to their posts than someone who puts everything out there.
I’ll hit the interwebs at home, or if I have my laptop with me when I’m out and about, but otherwise I can get by perfectly well without it. I feel somewhat at odds with the shuffling hordes on the streets around me, with earphones plugged in and staring at their screens, all operating under the assumption that other people will get out of their way.
I can’t really say anything against that if that’s what they want to do – I guess I just prefer to see what’s around me when I’m out and about (either that or retreat into Deep Thoughts that lead to me talking to myself in muttered conversations and having twitchy-faced arguments against the Strawmen In My Head). I couldn’t do that if I was online.
I have to question my motivations for doing things in the age of social media. Am I doing something for its own sake, or to get ‘likes’? It’s addictive stuff, getting positive feedback from people: on Behance, Facebook, or the number of hits I get on my blogs (I’m far less concerned with Twitter where I seem to average one tweet every five days or so).
Liking and sharing things with friends is a quick and easy way of maintaining social bonds, but it can have a dark side as well: by comparing ourselves with the edited highlights of what people choose to share about themselves, our self-esteem might be lowered. Of course, this depends on how well you know your online friends (with a handful of exceptions, most of mine are people I meet in real life).
I like to think that this makes it easier to go off and do things without having that Fear Of Missing Out. And given the way politics is going right now, I think I’d be grateful to miss out. I’m just glad I have friends with a range of opinions – it stops me from going competely overboard in online rants. I’d hate the idea of being in a social media bubble having my opinions echoed back to me. It’s a lot harder to dismiss people who vote differently as “them” when it’s your friends’ votes which are different to yours.
It’s easier to step back from social media when you’ve always had an ambivalent attitude towards it. It also makes it easier to enjoy holidays and trips when you’re not constantly catching up with what’s happening back home, or hoping to bombard your feeds with photos of Where You Are Right Now – you can just enjoy the moment.
I like the idea of spending less time on Facebook (or having it lurking in the background), and more time simply enjoying the moment. We’ll see how it goes…