The unsociable network

So..oh wait,just let me check Facebook again,ok so as I was saying, wait,sorry WHO retweeted me?!ok back to business,but first, snapchat selfie of me typing this…this…what am I writing again??

WHEN did we become so…distracted? Obsessed?This social media thing huh?

When exactly did it explode into the thing that fills every minute of our time; travelling time, bedtime, waiting time,work time,toilet time?

Children these days can navigate a tablet or mobile with the deftness of a tech wizard, watching Kidstube of other kids unwrapping Kinder Eggs (I can personally vouch that this is a thing,yep go figure)

Boredom for kids and adults alike is a thing of the past with Facebook,Twitter,Instagram Snapchat being only a swipe away.And that’s not all. Want to watch a film?Click.How about pay a bill?Click .Buy a dress?Click.

Gone are the days of waiting 20 minutes for your PC to boot up, only to have to stop your surfing session so someone can use the phone. (Yep kids really) or willing the dj to play your favourite song on the radio,so you could tape it or snapping a photo on your trusty old camera(not phone) and having the dreaded wait at the chemist to see if you had your eyes closed in ALL of the photos or just most of them.

These things are now a mere touch of a screen

The other day I watched a video on Facebook (of course) of two kids being shown a cassette tape by their dad and it really got me thinking about the huge shift in the way we live our lives.

Both were completely baffled by the tape,these switched on kids, raised through an unprecedented explosion of technological and digital progression, couldn’t work out the unthinkably simple process of playing a cassette,writing their dad off as some ancient geezer (he was in his 30’s for shame!!) for owning something so archaic.

These two, like any of their generation, were looking for an instant solution, the process of a tape player and (heaven forbid) having to turn it over half way through,much too cumbersome!

The point is that everything is so instantaneous these days that I really wonder and worry about our ability to truly unplug (or not as the case may be)

This week brought world mental health day and lets face it,we still have a long way to go, and the social media thing? Sometimes not a huge help.

When Bebo started(yes I am that old) the obsession of me and my peers was the amount of “friends” we had. Never mind the we didn’t know them from Adam, as long as the number on our friends list was high, the actuality of being “friends” could be looked over.(I wouldn’t say hi to you in the street but you know everything about my granny’s birthday party from the photos I posted…)

Social media feeds into our fascination with the lives of others, into our insecurities and our human need to be liked and applauded for our banter, beauty, brains. Even the most self assured person would struggle to profess that they don’t notice the amount of “likes” on their post, that it doesn’t offer a sense of satisfaction when that number creeps up.

At least today’s adults remember something of a simpler time, where every significant moment of our lives wasn’t documented,every embarrassing moment, captured and threatened to be released the next time you and your best mate have a cross word. For this, I feel envious and sorry for today’s kids in equal measure.Envious for past funny moments i would have loved to capture, but equally relieved that the more painful moments of teenage angst can be left where they belong, in the past.

Before I start to sound like a grouchy old technophobe (I have a blog for God sake ) I want to highlight that yes, there are so many wonderful things about our fast paced world, where we’re never far away from a friendly voice or a kind word, albeit of the SMS variety.These social media worlds can offer a sense of community to those who maybe don’t have much of that in the physical world,they can make a person feel part of something in ways which they may not have experienced before, but equally, they can isolate, intimidate and evoke feelings of rejection just like in the real world too. Keyboard warriors (we all know one) have the power to destruct behind the cowardly shield of the computer screen. Almost the worst form of verbal abuse because of the anonymity it affords, cyber bullying has become as much of an epidemic as the physical kind amongst young adults. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is just that-old and out of touch with today’s digitally obsessed world,words certainly can and do hurt, but the incessant need for information and to always be connected to the digital world keeps kids coming back for more and we adults are just as bad.

The irony is that as we strive to become more and more digitally connected,we become less and less physically so. Even dating starts with a background check to suss them out first, the element of intrigue somewhat diluted by being able to view the progression through dodgy haircuts and fashion faux pas that we’ve all made in our past.

The point is sometimes it’s just nice to switch off, to go back to basics, disconnect with the constant buzz of the phone, texts,emails, social media.Talk to our friends and families face to face without interruption.Join in on our children’s games instead of distractedly trying to capture a cute snap.Read an actual book or newspaper.Just stop and smell the flowers ,the digital world will still be there, constantly whirling and swirling, but maybe your mind won’t be.

Why you have to unleash your inner child to really grow up…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it”-

Nelson Mandela

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage in the last week, in the taking of the small steps to overcome that devil on my shoulder.

You know the one. She tells you to give up, that no one cares, that everyone is better, more interesting, more relevant.

But in recent days, when that voice begins to speak, I think back to Mel Wiggins’ speech @countryblogretreatni. Mel shared a book, made by her 8 year old self. She talked about flowers on a page, drawn everywhere and anywhere,the freedom of expression in that small act, of doing exactly what she wanted to do, without thought of revising or refining. The confidence, the courage.

Similarly, in the last weeks, I have watched my first born, my beautiful, bold, vibrant little girl, strive confidently forward into the unknown, starting a new school, making new friends in unfamiliar surroundings. All these new obstacles to overcome, and yet that 4 year old beauty marched in there with determination and confidence by the bucketload and marched out with a new BFF 1 hour later.

Children are truly our greatest teachers. The nerves we as adults feel, when stepping out of our safety bubble of family and friends and familiarity, the uncertainty in ourselves to speak out, whether it be in speech or in print, in fabric or in film, in canvas or in song, is the manifestation of a loss of the children we used to be.

I certainly felt it in the past week, at the blog meet up listening to The voice again,telling myself I was an imposter in this beautiful gathering of creatives, but I wasn’t, I was just bricking it. And the real surprise? Many of the other ladies were too. These bloggers, some with thousands of followers, beautiful style,who can snap a perfect pic and caption in seconds, were quaking in their boots.As terrible as it sounds, I felt more at ease with knowing that we were all in the same muddle of excited uneasy anticipation.

After the day was done, and feeling the satisfaction that so often comes when we achieve something we didn’t think we could, I did begin to wonder why? Why do we lack confidence to express ourselves creatively? Why do we feel like we can’t? And even on those rare occasions when we can’t, why do we fear the failure? Surely either way it’s a lesson learned?

I can only imagine that the answer is life, the knocks we get through the words or actions of others, the judging looks, that throwaway comment.

And so, this community that we are building, this virtual high fiving, through likes and positive comments becomes so very very important. It isn’t and shouldn’t be everything, but hey, it’s nice all the same right?

So let’s start from a place of kindness, of non judgment, of blanket acceptance, just like the pure hearts of our children.To lift each up and give each other back our courage.

We spend our days loving and caring, kissing and consoling, chiding and cherishing our little ones -arrogantly thinking that we are teaching them. Oh goodness no. How very wrong we are.

They, in their unashamedly uninhibited, sometimes utterly outrageous, free spirited beauty, are the best teachers of all. In the running so fast your legs may fall off, in the eating of the whole packet of sweets without concern, in the energy, in the enthusiasm, in the kindness and in the fearlessness, they are the courageous ones, the livers of life.

Rachael Xx