I’m not much of a one for exploring my technology – I just use gadgets for the things I know I want to do – but still…is there no end to this brave new world of social media?
Every time I venture onto Twitter or into WordPress’ admin area, I find yet another thing I have never come across before. Take today. I went onto Twitter to say thank you to a new follower (I’ve noticed this is a lovely etiquette on both blogs and Twitter, which makes me feel good about human nature and reciprocity), and while browsing her blog, I noticed references to ‘Instagram’ pictures. Deep, weary sigh. Oh no, what have I missed this time. Instagram joins hashtags, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Reddit and all those other sharing sites, not to mention a plethora of time-saving, funny or just plain cool apps I no doubt should have on my iphone or ipad.
What is it I’m not doing that means I miss out on all these developments, or indeed missed the gene that means I absorb them by osmosis? Am I blinkered or just not looking in the right places? I will admit to not being brilliant with sources of up to date popular culture type things – I mostly listen to BBC Radio 4 or Classic FM, with the occasional lunchtime foray into Radio 1 for Littlest H and I to bop along to something a bit more lively over our marmite sandwiches and soup. I don’t buy girlie mags or watch trashy TV (X factor excepted), and even if I do, I forward the ads. I’m not working, so I don’t commute past ads either, and for whatever reason the conversations with my female friends (which, let’s be honest, as a stay at home mum with a hard-working husband, is pretty much the only type of conversation I have nowadays, if you discount those of the how was school today, no mummy can’t make a lifesize elephant before supper darling, will you JUST GO to the loo variety) tend not to cover much about cool new social media goings on. It’s all we can do to connect on Facebook to be quite frank.
Just how do people have the time for all this knowledge gathering, let alone all the sharing, updating, reading, commenting and exploring? I’m going to have to get the nanny back just so I have time to manage it all.
I am enjoying it though, all this discovering. It feels a bit of an adventure, albeit quite a lazy one. I will admit (again) to an initial rolling of eyes and twinge of distaste about engaging with the ‘mummy blog’ community. I have a thing about being labelled as a mother and then put in a box as a result – yes, I am a female who has kids, but that doesn’t define who I am or what I think, and the ‘mummy blog’ moniker smacks of stereotyping to me. Luckily, I managed to get over myself and realised I found the good ones hilarious, heartwarming, reassuring and even useful. And by then I was sinking a good two or three evenings a week into this new-found world, incurring the wrath of a tired husband as I eeked out the minutes till bedtime.
And that there is the challenge, isn’t it, with all this online adventuring. What happens to real world relationships and adventures? Do they get sidelined for more comfortable sofa-based exploration, or is the latter fitted into the downtime?
Personally, I mostly do blog / twitter stuff in the evening when the kids are in bed and Mr H is still at work. But it’s so easy to slip into bad habits. I’ve had a couple of moments absorbed in a new post / tweet on my ipad, when the volume winds up, behaviour goes downhill and my kids basically tell me to stop getting distracted and focus on them. I certainly don’t want them to think that is ok, that the online world is more important than the real world we inhabit, and, goodness, wouldn’t that be an easy trap to slide into?
I haven’t experienced this with my children directly as yet – they are still very much in the real world of scraped knees, today’s best friends and deliciously messy play (delicious at school or nursery, mind you, torturous at home). Who knows where communication technology will be when they are deeply immersed teenagers. Maybe teenage Little H will message her friends direct from her brain via chips in her hairclips, with a webcam in groovy spectacles to video chat with mates as she walks along.
But hopefully, fundamentally, at that point she and Littlest H and their friends will still remember they are real people leading real lives in the real world, and that interacting with other humans face to face is by far the most fulfilling way to have relationships. Yes, building an online community is a wonderful privilege, but it’s real world friends and family who give you a hug when you need one, take your kids off you when you need a break, make you laugh when you might otherwise cry and go out and get thoroughly plastered with you, quietly sharing each other’s pain the next morning.
On which note, best I get back to those mummy blogs. Kids are in bed, no friends being ditched, no husband to talk to, a pile of admin best ignored, so no angst necessary 🙂