As a child, it was the day to day activities that kept me present in the moment. Waking up and not feeling the urge to look at my phone, but to do those everyday morning things that may not be exciting, but need to be done. In secondary school, a seed of competitive nature had been planted. Everyone had a phone and was wearing it as if it added texture to their image. I remember questioning why this was essential. It seemed like a new language to learn. The letters looked tiny - I couldn't understand how this was the new way to communicate. People were taking pictures of one another - I couldn't see how this was enjoying a moment, and everyone was laughing at these digital exchanges that were happening in class. It was quite isolating not being involved with a device of your own, but I assumed that it would be nothing more than a distraction at this age.
Growing up, my way of documenting my life and the relationships formed was through writing - physically writing with a paper and pen. A process that is not used enough, in my opinion, amongst the youth. I was the girl who had spent their pocket money on the stationary range out in Paperchase. That feeling was continuously exciting, and I think we have lost this along the way. There does not seem to be that build-up or wait before achieving something on your phone. The quick and instant life with digital devices and social media is effective but may hinder the excitement.
Perhaps pen and paper don't have a place in daily life anymore. People are so used to instant gratification, and I don't think it's a place people would be willing to go back to. Where life is so fast-paced, and communications are pretty much all online, how could we integrate an organised way of writing? Writing pen and paper would certainly allow people to be present and lessen the "need" to check your phone. Half of the time, it isn’t easy to articulate what you are checking on your phone. The need to see what the world is doing, even though you live a completely different day, makes me question what generations to come will think of as "normal"?
Relationships with social media during lockdown
I must say, lockdown has allowed us all to think about flaws previously overlooked. The flaws in the system, the flaws in our lives and within ourselves caused the position of our phones, digital devices and social media to shift. When we were all confined to our four walls, staying connected was the priority. For those living alone, unhappy with their home life, and needing someone to speak to, social media enabled us to do that with ease. The stigma around certain apps (Snapchat and Instagram) invite a rather unhealthy cycle of comparison. It is painfully easy to fall into a mindset of seeing what somebody’s perfect life looks like, a simple moment in time, and feel inferior to that particular moment. Lockdown created a sense of “we are all in the same boat”. And suddenly comparisons did not feel so competitive. Everybody has and still is in survival mode, and the fear of missing out does not scream so loud. I would go as far as saying that it's been comforting in lockdown to see everyone battling and enjoying the same themes during lockdown, e.g. daily walks and the food schedule being tainted.
We have had the time to exhale and think deeper about what we want and who/what are the positive and negative influences in our lives. With time and space, I have found myself researching different opportunities in fields that I had never really considered. I had the time to take my writing “seriously” and think beyond just writing in diaries and journals for me to look back on in years to come. Opportunities were coming, and I was rather shocked that things seemed to organically fall in place because the pace had slowed down, and things felt stress-free. In a time that was so uncertain, I found certainty in the fact that I could frame a daily routine around researching new opportunities and finding new creative areas to stimulate.
Social media has had a contrasting role for each and every one of us. Anxiety seems to be a common term when speaking to people about social media, but equally, the term “connected”. Fighting off the comparisons and the competitive nature continues to be something that we need to train our minds to do differently. Focusing on the fact that, during isolating times, social media gives us that gateway to feel involved with others in a positive light may help. Also, finding personal boundaries. Consider what time in the day you go on social media and what type of apps, or people you are following, influence you. Adapting to social media is the new normal. Finding balance means that the role it plays will shift to hopefully being more positive in areas with friendships, family, work life, creativity and many other avenues.