Category Archives: social networking

Cyber holiday meets actual holiday…

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Yesterday my ‘cyber holiday’ was introduced to my actual holiday. We loaded the car till there was barely room breath too deeply, we strapped in the kids whose excitement was beyond words and we left the cat and the fish in the safe hands of our neighbour, Mr Parrott (which was very kind of him indeed since their last holiday was sadly followed by an emergency trip to the vets and the demise of their much loved guinea pig who had been in our care for 5 days).

This particular holiday has been a long time coming for us, much needed time out after some very hard working months… We really need it! It is also much needed by the two families who have joined us and having their company is a real treat! Six adults, 5 children amongst us, 3 static caravans and the most beautiful part of Devon, happy days. The night however – not so great.

This is our first attempt at getting our 3 and 5 year old to share a room, going to bed two hours later than their usual 7-7 routine won’t have helped, tummy ache from too many treats On day 1 won’t have helped, and waking up in unfamiliar surroundings and wanting to ‘go home’ absolutely, definitely didn’t help. Much fuss and nonsense, cuddles, pep talks and calpol later the boy eventually slept on the sofa with me. Lucky boy. I did not sleep so much as drifted from one uncomfortable position to the other.

On the cyber holiday front it’s hard, really hard, to actually, truly disconnect. I’ve been ‘inactive’ on Facebook for a week now and it’s been truly refreshing. A friends therapist once told her ‘if you don’t want to hear about other people’s views, opinions, lives, then don’t feed the conversation’ I’ve interpreted this advice to include the Internet… We constantly feed others ability to change the way we feel by sharing ‘statuses’ and inviting their critique on our lives. We make statements about how we are currently feeling, behaving and acting in ways that are unprecedented… Pre World Wide Web would you ever have walked into a pub and said out loud any of your last 10 Facebook status?

Anyway back to the present. We are here. We are happy even if we are all a little tired. We are together.

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Cyber holiday… Almost

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On Sunday I deactivated my Facebook account, putting my personal and business page into some sort of suspended animation, frozen, switched off, silent. Triggered by a long overdue need to unplug, some challenges in my business, some stresses in my personal life, the time had come, in anticipation of our family holiday, to silence the social networking beast.

It possibly seems hypocritical to have switched Facebook off and then to be writing a blog about it but this is exactly my point. The endless hours I wasted checking my Facebook page for notifications, messages, tags, @ mentions and new posts in the groups and pages I like, life was passing me by!

My children, if asked to draw a picture of me would probably draw the apple logo on my nose for wherever we are I’ve been hooked into the Facebook matrix via the apps on my phone and iPad. It’s a sorry state of affairs when your brain starts interpreting every situation, task, trial or experience as a Facebook status, check-in or photo comment. My reaction to the boy pulling some awesome new stunts on his scooter should be to applaud, congratulate, encourage and hug him, not check it in with some catchy status like “Annie Smith…’is watching the boy perfect new tricks on the super scooter’ at St James Park” he won’t remember the check-ins but he will remember his amazing achievements being ignored whilst Mummy tip taps away on her technology AGAIN!

I’ve justified it to myself all this time because I have a business page on there, I must always be available in case a potential client needs to contact me, simply not true. I have a website, an email address, a phone number and a contact form, they can contact me 24/7 if they want to, they don’t need me to be on Facebook to do it and in fact it causes more issues if I am on there… Heaven help me if I update my status to say I’m having a glass of red and a take out when someone is waiting for their gallery to be uploaded…. Bring on the messages headed ‘I see you’re online, is my gallery ready yet!’

So for now I’m out of it. I’m going to try and stay out of it at least till the end of half term, and if/when I do go back it will be on a very limited basis!

Internet friends, they’re real people you know!

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A long, long time ago, in the late summer of 2007, I joined an Internet forum for pregnant women, in particular I joined a thread call ‘Due March 2008′ at the time I was expecting my second baby, having lost the first following a miscarriage at 18 weeks it was with some hesitation that I plonked myself amongst this group of random women all expecting babies at the same time as me. If I’d been told then that I’d still be in touch with most of them almost 5 years later I would never have believed it, but believe it you must because the ‘Due March 2008′ mummies have become great friends!

Having guided each other haphazardly through our pregnancies we quite literally laboured together going online in the early hours to check whether our babies were actually on the way and immediately afterwards sharing our birth stories, some good, some traumatic, all different and each of us finding our lives changed forever!

Amongst us there was a miracle when one of the babies was born an astonishing 17 weeks early in the November of 2007, there have been a number of weddings in the years since, some of us have gone on to have more children, we have seen relationships break down and new loves found, some of us have moved from one end of the country to the other and some have started new businesses and our lives are unrecognisable from how they were when we first met in 2007!

Of course saying that we ‘met’ isn’t really true, you see we haven’t met, well not all of us, some of the girls met up when the March ’08 babies were still babies and others amongst us have met one to one with those in our local area but since we are spread to the furthest corners of the united kingdom getting us all together isn’t easy! Today however, I had the great pleasure of meeting one of them for the first time!

We’ve chatted online for so many years, I’ve talked to these girls about things I wouldn’t even mention to my best ‘real life’ friends and I’ve looked forward to meeting them all for a really long time! So today one of them stopped in to visit me in Southampton on her way to Portsmouth after a long drive from Llanelli in Wales, no sooner was the door open than our two girls, just weeks apart in age but never having met before, had scampered off to play on the trampoline together as if they had been friends for years!

My husband has always questioned the time I spend chatting online to what he calls ‘strangers’ but after today I am confident once again that Internet ‘friends’ are in fact just as special, valuable and real as those friends we see face to face and talk to every day!

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Creating a timeline for our children

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Facebook timeline, it’s occurred to me that my children will grow up to find that their Mum has kept a detailed chronological record of their lives from their birth (my status March 08 reads: Willow Heidi Smith, 1hr 24 min old, she arrived 6th March at 1.55am, she’s amazing) through to other major events (when my Mum passed away in November 2010 I wrote: few people have the privilege of being able to hold their loved ones as they gently pass from this world into the next, we love you Mum and we are all so grateful to have been together today, my heart is aching, such a beautiful and gentle mother, watch over us x x x x)

I’m starting to weigh up the pros and cons of this, on the plus side it means they will have a detailed window into their Mum and Dads lives, where we went (through all the ‘check-in’s) to how they behaved as infants but then I started to worry! If this is going to be there for them to read do I celebrate the positives enough or do I spend too much time moaning about sleepless nights and teething? Do I share things they will be mortified to read as young adults or am I recording memories that would otherwise slip away into the past?

As I mentioned above I lost my own Mum in 2010 and one of the overwhelming feelings I have is that I didn’t know her well enough, I mean I did obviously know her very well but I find myself wondering what she was like as a child, I can only guess at the things she would have ‘liked’ on Facebook, though to be fair she wasn’t much interested in technology so probably would never have used it even if she’d been able to (she had progressive MS for 32 years!).

So when my own children look back on my timeline, either with me or after I’m gone what will they be gaining from it? Will it reveal the real me or will it only show the version of me I choose to portray online? We all do a bit of a PR job on ourselves online… Some write with such melodrama that you’d never recognise their calm exterior on the street, others with charisma that far outperforms their face to face contact, I’ve known friends describe themselves in ways that are completely alien to me, but is this perception or reality?

My children will never know a world without touch screen, social networking, wireless technology, they will be different adults because of this… Make no mistake this is changing all the rules of social interaction! I’m sure some much smarter people are already studying these ideas and writing about them so I won’t claim to be an expert on human nature or psychology but I do know that relationships are built and developed based on trust, knowledge of one another and shared interests… On the one hand social networking has all the potential to accelerate the way humans form bonds and develop friendships, on the other it is so wide open for abuse it’s frightening!

My husband doesn’t do social networking (yet! He didn’t ‘do’ mobile phones until about 2008!) and doesn’t suffer for it, he is still happy to actually talk to people face to face or on the telephone (oh that’s what those little smart boxes are we all carry!) whereas I never have time for that nonsense and arrange what I call my ‘real life’ though a range of tweets, direct messages and status updates. I’m going to make a mental note to revisit this post each year to see how things have developed!

As always I would love to know your thoughts?

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