Saturday 4 April 2020

The importance of staying private in a world of Social Media

The concept of Social Media and how it is utilised now a days is a huge topic, one that I am only going to scratch the surface with my thoughts and opinions. 

I "generally" believe anyone born as a " Millenial" or "Generation Z" certainly deems social media in a very different light to those who are older. Of course there is always the exception to the rule and not all of these people within these dates see social media in the same generalised way.

So the term "Millenial" and "Generation Z" is deemed to be anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (Millenial) and 1997 - 2012 (Generation Z)

Having just skipped falling into the Millenial category by a few years, those 3 years make a huge difference in how I view social media and technology. I hear my parents generation sighing as they didn't even have telephones or television.  

I got my very first mobile phone at the age of 21, which in this day and age is classed as extremely old to be starting up in the world of mobiles. My mobile phone was basic, in comparison to what is available nowadays. I could call a person from the black and weird green coloured screen and send a basic text message by pressing the digits on the keypad several times before you reached the desired letter or number. Picture messages didn't exist, let alone cameras. 

Now a days, I know parents that are buying new age Smart Phones for children of ages as young as 12. When I was 12 years old I had a baby boy doll and a "Head" bag, which was a sports brand back then, that all the cool kids had to take their school books and lunch to school not a mobile phone in sight.

The Millenials and Generation Z have been using new age technology most of their lives. From Smart phones then came Social Media. These Social Media programmes allow you to publicise every ounce of your life open to the world to see pictures and comments of every day activities that you do.

People use the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more recently, I have seen advertised something called Tik Tok?  

I am on both Facebook and Instagram, however my facebook account only has a handful of close friends and the rest are my family members, this is purely to see what my nieces and nephews are up too as they generally use social media (Millennial's and Generation Z)!

I think social media can have its advantages to share pictures, jokes and videos with perhaps friends or family members you don't see very often. But what I really don't understand is the use of publicising everything you are doing to the world. I am talking about those people who virtually document their entire lives on social media and have their privacy settings set to public for the entire universe to see. I do not understand this concept. 

I am unsure why people have public accounts, unless of course it is promoting a business of some sort but people showing the world what they had for dinner, videos of your children, your relationship, where you are, and  generally pictures of every ounce of your life. In my opinion is a bizarre way of thinking. Sharing those things might be nice if kept to your limited amount of close friends or family but to absolutely anyone is down right weird in my opinion.

Is it that they like to make their lives look more interesting than there are? Wanting some kind of validation? A sense of gratification? To achieve "likes" to feel special or wanted? I am not sure quite why people have public profiles. If you are in fact one of those people, please enlighten me.

For me, if I am in a relationship or if I had children, I know for a fact I would not want the general public of the world staring at my private life. I mean you never know who is looking. Innocent videos of your children could be viewed by undesirables. Ex partners or friends might feel upset by seeing their ex in a new life. To me it seems quite dishonorable, needy behaviour. No body would know if I was in a relationship or not by viewing my social media on a private level let alone if I had it public. I like to keep my private life exactly that private. Of course the only people who know who I really am writing this blog are family and friends and not all of those even know. Anonymity is important to me.

I believe people no longer really live in the moment. I mean if I am having the time of my life and the best day in the best relationship you would never know because I am enjoying it that much that I simply do not have time to take pictures, let alone publicise them online for the world to see. 

How is it that people are in the heat of the moment in a passionate kiss or playing a game can take the time to pose for a picture? Surely if it is that great why are you able to pose? I know if I have been having a passionate kiss or in the middle of something exciting to stop and grab my phone to take a picture and to upload onto a public account for the world to see would be out of the question. I simply wouldn't do it. 

Perhaps we need to ask if what we view on social media is always accurate? I frequently say to my patients, that during therapy we could sit, hug and smile and make a picture to look like we are old friends catching up and having the best day, but the reality is we are sat in a therapy room, me the practitioner them the patient. Far from what could potentially be perceived to those strangers viewing the public social media profile.

Admittedly, I do share things on social media for my friends and family to view, mainly funny dog videos to make them smile. I might share the odd personal picture of an activity I am doing or a birthday party but I generally keep my audience private to my friends and family only. 

I guess the other exception to business is anonymous accounts. I have an account for Miss Snikpoh on both facebook and Instagram but it is anonymous No one knows my true identity (other than my close family and friends) The accounts are public but my aim is the same aim of this blog to enable the reader to feel that it is ok to not feel ok all of the time. I keep my anonymity to protect myself. 

These people who publicise their entire lives to the world on social media are not protecting themselves, their families or friends.For me it takes away my respect and they loose their dignity. It oozes a self esteem crisis covered up by the nonchalant attitude of "I don't give a fuck" but deep down it appears that they really do, but that's just my opinion.

I find it a sad state of affairs that people feel the desire to over share their lives and I am sure that it is not healthy to do so. Is it attention seeking behaviour? I have no idea. What I do know is that it is can be extremely dangerous. 

We are a nation of curious souls. We are presented with news and have access to endless amounts of unnecessary information. As curious human beings if things are available to us we undoubtedly will look. 

Life somehow seemed easier when we had less information. Less is more. I am a firm believer that knowledge is useful and helpful and helps us to explore and to grow but surely not all knowledge is useful. Too much knowledge is very unhelpful, particularly information that might not be a totally accurate reflection of the truth. Perception can be dangerous and can lead to the cycle of unhelpful thoughts.

For example. If you fall out with a friend, lover or family member wouldn't it be easier to get over that person from your life if you weren't able to access what they are doing in life now? Surely it can contribute to people never getting over the loss of people in their lives?

We are all capable of looking at ex partners, friends, colleagues, family etc Why do we do it?... because we can! This is why I think it is far healthier for people's social media accounts to remain private to discourage this type of behaviour.

Working in mental health I have endless amounts of patients feeling upset and stressed because they can openly view profiles on social media that is detrimental to their wellbeing. I have men and women saying they can see what their exes are up to, what their new partners are like and for youngsters at college and school feeling sad because they can see that their friends went out but they weren't invited. People naturally compare themselves to others, which in itself is undesirable and can cause countless problems.

I suggest for them not to look, but is it really that easy? If we know information is there and that we have access to it people will do it. It is like if you know there is cake in the cupboard it will drive you insane until you eat the damn cake, afterwards feeling guilty, sad and unhappy that you gave into temptation. Of course if we are busy and getting on living our own lives we have less chance of being part of social media, but if it is available people will continue to do it at some point.

A new aged saying is "social media stalking", but actually it is human curiosity. We all know if someone says don't do something we are more tempted.

I have asked many people about this both patients and friends and all say the same, that they all look at accounts if they are public out of boredom or curiosity. It doesn't actually mean they are desperately interested in the person or their lives it is just simple because it is available.

What social media platforms ideally need to do is only enable people to have private accounts and that you can only view if you are actively following the person/or "friends" to which they have agreed. 

It would take life back to easier times with far less drama and upset in the world. It would protect our children and vulnerable people from perpetrators, well at least reduce it.

So why do people feel a great need to make their private life public? Do we really need to know everything about everyone all of the time? Perhaps the world would be a nicer, kinder and more humble place to live if this was the case?

Sadly many of the Millennial's and Generation Z, can not see the destruction it can cause simply because they don't know a world without it. I hope that this will start to change. 

Social media can be fabulous, I mean at this current time the Corona Virus is a global pandemic and the having the ability to utilise social media to allow people to keep in touch is more important than ever but remember your private life is still your private life. Choose wisely on who you want to share it with. By all means keep connected and share videos, photos, food what ever but keep it to your select friends and family not the entire world!

I certainly know that I was bought up to believe that having an air of mystery is a positive trait. But then I was bought up by the older generation who were teenagers in the 1950s!

Social media is and can be really helpful and certainly has many benefits. But I think for general people who aren't using it for business purposes, keep it private, for you never really know who is watching you.....

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