We discussed both the benefits and negative aspects of Social Media and how we use it. Can & should it be avoided or are we able to find a balance in an ever increasing public facing world?
Love it, hate it, tolerate it - social media is unavoidable. It’s everywhere and a part of every day life whether you like it or not. From personal use, to business, networking, staying in touch, sharing ideas, it’s seamlessly linked to every aspect of the world today.
So how do we use social media - if at all? We discussed a range of uses from positive mum blogs and advice websites to celebrity mum shaming articles & a lack of material on certain emotive subjects. Many of us felt that social media varied depending on the source. Facebook advertising was hard to personalise and occasionally offensive but brought a plethora of support networks and groups where Instagram didn’t. However Instagram gave an insight into interesting tips and life blogs that Facebook didn’t offer and Pinterest, whilst it was a great source of tips and suggestions, the results were often somewhat a little 'aesthetically pleasing' for real life.
We suggested words and phrases associated with social media and discussed. Amongst the pros; Supportive, Like-minded, Re-assuring and the cons; Superficial, Misleading & Manipulative. Quite a range of emotions were felt and often and not the good type. Some felt like they were presented with ideal versions of how their lives should be and what they should be doing. Others felt a lack of support when it came to their own choices about raising their children. The majority of us felt that we turned to social media in times of down time when we had time to fill or no particular reason to be online.
Social media and strategic communications researcher Dr Catherine Archer writes ‘Mothers in the focus groups spoke of the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) phenomenon of not being online, but also found that time on Facebook could engender unhelpful feelings. Mums did speak of ‘addiction’ and the superficiality of some posts from friends’. It would be remiss of us to note that the world of social media is well attuned to the publics FOMO. With so many opportunities now only available online, do people feel a pressure to sign up and login regularly? It would appear so.
But what about the more positive side? For one, Becoming Mums certainly wouldn’t have the members we do without Facebook. Mummy blogs such as Selfish Mother, Mrs. G Fletcher, Scummy Mummies and Hurrah for Gin all bring a wealth of support, humour and information to a world infused with mum shaming and choice bashing. Additionally a wide range of support networks can be found from Breastfeeding/Bottlefeeding support, fertility issues, meet ups, sleep-deprivation support amongst a variety of others. With the mere touch of a button we can link to others for suggestions and advice (or impart some of our own trusted techniques) and find like-minded people where we previously wouldn’t have been able to.
So how can we maintain a healthy relationship with social media? A study carried out In Norway by Scientists on a group of 23,532 people showed that ‘addictive use of social media was related to higher narcissism and lower self-esteem’. They suggest that those who choose to spend less time online spend less time comparing and more time interacting face to face. Whilst this is not true of everyone, it would indicate that there is a correlation between time spent online and well-being.
Some suggestions for keeping the relationship balanced were not responding to particular issues that they felt they would normally, reducing the time spent online and turning off notifications. Others said that they would start monitoring the time spent online and even delete apps on their phone, forcing them to turn on a computer if they wanted to engage.
Whatever our relationship, it’s clear that social media has its benefits and pitfalls. A study by Statista showed that ‘as of 2017, daily social media usage of global internet users amounted to 135 minutes per day, up from 126 daily minutes in the previous year’. With us increasing our amount of time online, perhaps it’s a place to start - reducing our own time spent on our devices. We can’t change the billions spent on targeted advertising or the complex coding that tracks our movements but we can put the phone down and walk away if we want.