Early Monday morning, I received a text from a friend: "I'm giving up Twitter and Facebook for Lent. I think you should too..."
I thought he was joking, but he has this really irritating way of persuading me of things. By lunch time, we had agreed to both give up social media for Lent, and to blog jointly about our experiences.
|My Facebook profile picture|
I run several pages on Facebook - for my business, this blog, and for other businesses. I also promote myblog through Twitter. For that reason I can't really give up social media completely. So the rule is this: I will continue to update my clients' pages as normal, and will update my own pages with blog links and suchlike. My Twitter feed will continue to post links to the blog and periodic reminders that I have given up Twitter for Lent. I am not allowed to interact on my own pages or on Twitter though.
I've been on Facebook since 2007, when my joining the site caused a massive argument with my then boyfriend. At first I thought it might be fun to try out this new site and maybe catch up with some old friends, and I have been lucky enough to reconnect with so many wonderful people I'd lost touch with over the years... 800+ "friends" later, it struck me last week that perhaps Facebook was taking over my life a little. I began deleting the "friends" I didn't actually know, and even closing down the Facebook tab on my browser when I was trying to work. I know, right? Shock!
I joined Twitter in 2008, and followed the obligatory random celebrities. I didn't really get it though, and stopped using it until I set up this blog in 2012. Since then, I've sent around 25,000 tweets and made several friends in the process. I think I'm probably more worried about not being able to tweet than giving up Facebook. It's my go-to place when I need advice, information, anything. It's 100 times better than Google in that respect.
To be honest, I'm not sure I'll last 40 days and 40 nights without social media. It's become my go-to place when I have questions about... well, anything! If S is poorly and I'm not sure if I should call a doctor, if I'm not sure which shoes to buy, if I'm not sure what hours my local Tesco is open on Sundays. Being a single parent can be pretty lonely, and Facebook and Twitter have been my lifelines on many an evening - not just with advice or information, but with company. I will miss the company, but I suppose if people really want to get in contact with me they will email me. I'm looking forward to all the extra free time I'll have now I'm not reading about people's dramas and watching funny videos of cats for hours at a time.
The friend in question was Simon Clarke. He does afternoons on the radio and spends a lot of time on social media. This is what he has to say about his ridiculous idea:
“You’ll never manage it” came the reply from a colleague at work when I announced in the office that I was giving up social media for lent.
“And since when were you religious anyway?”
They might have me on the second point, but I am determined to prove to them and to anyone else who cares that social media is a choice and not a necessity in today’s world.
I was a late starter with Facebook and declined the many email requests from friends until late 2011 when a good (albeit distant) friend of mine became a parent and I decided that it would be a good way to keep up to date with their daughter’s growth.
So I asked someone a work to create the account for me and set the security to maximum so that I wouldn’t show up in any searches.
“Facebook for friends, Twitter for work” was my plan and I was determined to limit my number of friends to “just really good ones I don’t see on a regular basis”.
|Simon's profile picture|
By the end of the first day I had already sailed past the self imposed marker of 50 thanks to the incestuous nature of the media industry and Facebook’s way of suggesting other people you might know.
Most of the people who found me were mutual acquaintances of the few people I actively sought out and although many fell into the “worked with for a few months a few years ago” category I didn’t want to seem rude by ignoring them.
I am now somewhere north of the 300 mark but I only receive notifications of posts from about 6 of them.
So why do I keep so many friends and acquaintances?
Well the honest answer is that they make my job easier.
As a broadcaster I am supposed to reflect the lives of the people to whom I broadcast, and what better way to get inspiration than to see what other people are thinking and doing.
There is also a big element of enjoying sharing other peoples good news.
I have an altruistic streak that feeds off other peoples positivity and Facebook provides that.
Twitter is different and very much “work”.
I use it to communicate with the audience and it’s a great way to establish your personality as a radio presenter without constantly going about your private life or personal views.
It’s great for picking up general opinions of things you know nothing about yet have to reflect because your listeners do care about them.
Will I cope for 40 days without social media?
I think so although it may mean I have to work a bit harder.
In the meantime if you happen to see any funny Lolcat pictures please send them my way via text or email please. Thanks!
Today is our last day using Facebook or Twitter. If you want to stay in contact with either of us, but don't have the means to do so outside of social media... well, there may well be a reason for that!
My email address is on the About page of my blog here; do feel free to get in contact if you'd like to. If you'd like to stay in contact with Simon, you can hear his unending chirpiness on the radio, or his website is here.
Find out how we got on with Day 1 here!