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Opinion Piece: Social Media - this isn't what I signed up for!

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Whilst we really do see the value of all social media channels here at Service Care Solutions (well, the marketing department do at least!), the company also encourages free speech so here is my personal opinion on a phenomenon that has changed how we communicate forever. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good scroll through and can see the huge merits that social media can bring but I'm sure some of you will agree that signing up to all the channels available today can become a huge commitment!

Regular chat from friends / acquaintances / colleagues: "Facebook? Are you still using Facebook? Are you not on Instagram? Why are you not on Instagram? But you need to see more pictures of my face!”

I’m 30 years old, married and have a kid so I haven’t really ever needed to bother with it. All the people I feel I need to interact with are on Facebook or their numbers are in my phone. I prefer to keep these interactions to a bare minimum and respond to any messages short brief answers: “No Problem.” “Great thanks.” “That’s fine.” usually seem to suffice.

Unfortunately, Facebook has now decided to give me an almost second job, by way of its unwritten etiquette of having to get involved in unnecessary interactions surrounding parts of each others' lives that don’t interest either party. Apparently, I’m obligated to like and comment on daily posts that I’ve been tagged in by my wife or family, whilst simultaneously liking posts about other people’s kids whilst sifting through a deluge of (sometimes) badly informed opinions from people I used to go to school with. Maybe they’ll all stop if I tag them in things that I know they won't be particularly interested in!?

If I don’t respond to someone's attempt to contact me on my phone via text or WhatsApp, they can assume I just haven’t had the time to read it, just the way I like it. But on Facebook people can see everything I do, including failing to be a loyal follower of their own posts. 

Your holiday photos are on there? Oh, well why didn’t you say? I can’t think of anything more thrilling than watching you gradually getting a tan, along with pictures of interesting places obscured by your face.

I didn’t sign up to Facebook for this. I just wanted somewhere to store my pics, keep in touch with mates and arrange the odd get-together. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to fill my already busy social media schedule to take on more social media obligations on a completely different platform... Instagram.

My first impressions were: it’s mainly just pictures. I can see some advantages there, particularly the lack of ranting and raving compared to Facebook. But its focus on the visual is also its biggest flaw. Instagram essentially encourages you to let everyone know what you’re up to in a purely visual form and forces its users to focus on the visual aspects of their lives. Everything is about looking at things at face value and seeking approval from others based on this through its 'like' feature. 

I can see why social media has been deemed by some as having a negative effect on mental health. Imagine a Millennial in 50 years time showing their Grand their photos: “Here’s my face. Here’s another picture of my face. That’s my face by the sea. Here’s a drink I don’t remember having. My face again but outside of a club."

I realised that I didn’t really want to be part of this. If I wanted to imagine that everyone else's life is far better than it actually is, I have the uncanny ability to do this in my head. So, I quit Instagram within a few days.

However, Facebook is now at war with my sanity. I am a massive fan of Jurassic Park and joined a Jurassic Park fan page. “I wouldn’t want loads of posts about Dinosaurs on my feed.” Don’t worry, you won’t get any. Instead I joined a war between American and British fans on what the correct definition of a biscuit is. My feed is now full of memes sponsored by McVitie’s - there are only so many times I can see Robert Muldoon saying 'clever girl' to a stealthy raptor with a Digestive for a head!

Oh Look, a new Daily Mail “Science” article without any citations. Must resist temptation to comment. I can’t help reading the comments though - lots of people are posting ignorant questions like “how do you explain that?” as if that were an answer in itself. Must Comment. Why did I have to do a Science Degree? Everyone on here thinks they’re so smart, everyone seems to think they know everything. The irony of my own thoughts sink in.

I just wanted to have fun and laugh at memes, not to have an existential crisis. So there we go - that's why this social media lark isn't what I signed up for!
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