Perspective on 2014 – Thoughts on life and social media

The winter solstice. Shortest day of the year. The end of a cycle and the start of new beginnings.

I’ve seen a lot of people posting their year reviews on Facebook, with lots of nice moments and happy smiling pictures. It’s nice to see something positive at the end of what has been a really shit year for a lot of really good people.

I don’t know it it’s just because I’m getting older but it feels like the past couple of years the odds have been stacked against a lot of people and thanks to social media we’ve all shared in people’s moments of happiness, grief, joy, sorrow, love and hate in ways that we never could before.

It feels like a lot of people have been tested in this last year, pushed to the outer limits of their emotional and physical capabilities. We’ve lost many good people, far too soon, but also shared the joy of new life and a new generation emerging like a Phoenix, shining it’s fiery light into even the darkest of times.

Thanks to the immediacy of social media we are instantaneously connected and united in our thoughts, feelings and emotions. We know more about strangers and acquaintances than we’ve ever known before and have created a virtual shared consciousness which allows us all to experience how the world is feeling at any particular moment within the click of a few buttons. Technology, rightly or wrongly has been embedded deep within our culture and through that transcends a different way of experiencing life.

There is a saying that the people who have the most to deal with are the ones who are the strongest and are prepared to handle it the best. I don’t know if that’s true. What has struck me is that even in people’s darkest hours, when it feels like there is no possible way forward, from somewhere a small speck of hope emerges and grows and begins to spread and take on a life force of its own. This comes from people, ordinary everyday people. There is nothing particularly special about them other than the fact they have taken a few minutes to comment on something, to show their support in some small way to those in need. To offer help. Advice or something as simple as a friendly emoji with a few kisses.

It’s these small things that are making a huge difference to people’s lives. Knowing that sat at a phone or a computer at the other end of a load of electrodes someone is thinking about them. Sharing their experiences, whether good or bad and therefore in someway sharing a small part of their lives.

Yes there is a worry that our real life friendships are being effected by it. When your whole life is splattered across a computer screen and everyone already knows everything about you what do you actually talk about in person anymore? Well good friends will always find something to talk about. That’s why they are good friends. But how many times have you seen groups of friends all sat staring at the screens of their phones rather than talking to the people around them? (Yeah guilty as charged with this one).

We’re quickly becoming info junkies. Social Media has embedded a need in us to know exactly what is happening in everyone else’s lives the moment it happens and if we haven’t heard the latest news or gossip we’re behind the times. Part of it is just human curiosity. We’re so used to knowing immediately what’s going on that try and take that away and it feels like we’re losing or missing out on something. And actually we are. We’re missing out on life.

I find it particularly hard running an organisation where a lot of my time is spent sharing information and creating discussions via social media. Trying to ensure that interesting articles and opportunities are shared as soon as they pop up. Making sure that info people send in is uploaded and shared in good time and usually under great pressure from those who submit it. Everyone wants their items to appear immediately and to have a good position on the homepage with shiny images and catchy headlines. I end up spending a lot of my spare time staring at my iPad or phone scouring through articles, Facebook posts and tweets trying to find the next thing to share and put out there. And don’t get me I really enjoy doing it. I love learning new things, reading people’s different opinions in articles, finding silly videos or memes to share. But I have come to realise that actually although most people appreciate a lot of the posts, by being so consumed with input of data and social sharing I’m not really living. I’ve become a slave to technology and in someways have distanced myself from the real world.

It’s time to disconnect.
Disconnect from technology and reconnect to the real world.

If the last couple of years have taught me anything it’s that life is too short. You have to grab opportunities when they arise.
Take risks.
Try saying yes to things you would normally avoid.
Speak out on issues that you feel strongly about.
Make things happen – if there’s something you want to do just do it. Don’t sit around waiting for someone to make it happen for you as they wont do it. It’s up to you to take charge and be the change you wish to see.
Make time for those you care about most.
Spend time with friends and loved ones. Or one day it will be too late and you’ll regret it and there will be no opportunities left to make up for the lost time.

Dream as though you’ll live forever. Live as though you’ll die today.

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