Thursday, 22 December 2016

The 'Lurking' Dangers Of Social Media

Apologies for writing with such a dark tone again but when you feel like I do it is almost impossible to write any other way. I’ve tried to think of something positive to write about but the truth of the matter is that I don’t feel positive about anything. And when you don’t feel positive about anything then the things that would ordinarily interest you and inspire you have no effect. If I wanted to be a pretentious gobshite about it I would say that feeling low stifles the creative process. But of course as we all know I don’t have a creative process. Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard is a masterclass in absolutely winging it.

One article I did stumble across today suggested that too much of what they call ‘lurking’ on social media can contribute to depression. The theory is that if you are just browsing through what other people have posted it can make you feel envious, as if everyone has a much better and more successful life than you do, which in turn makes you feel inadequate and miserable. It is far more healthy, the study claims, to actually interact with people on social media rather than just idly read through what they have been wittering on about.

There’s a couple of things about this. Firstly, I find it hard to believe that anyone could be envious of the scores of people who pollute social media with their deep thoughts about what they are having for their tea. Who really gives a flying turd? There are upwards of 300 people on my Facebook friends list and it doesn’t appear to me that any of them are having much more fun than I am. They’re just not so pre-disposed to be miserable about that fact as I am. So if I am envious of them it is only of their ability to do absolutely rock all of any interest and still appear blissfully happy about it. I can’t help but feel at times that some of them just haven’t thought it through. But then as we know from previous memoirs on these pages about feeling low I am a world class exponent of over-thinking everything. Perhaps they have the right idea and I could learn from them. Ignorance really could be bliss.

Which brings me to the second point which is that actually, you are surely far more likely to feel depressed reading this sort of stuff simply because it bores you out of your mind. It is not difficult to imagine spending an hour on Facebook or Twitter and coming away with the impression that there is nothing going on in the world. A feeling of ‘is this all there is?’. The news offers no respite, with a shooting, terrorist attack or political crisis every other day, which is perhaps why I have an irrationally insatiable appetite for crap television drama. It’s escapism. Anything but the daily grind of getting up, going to work, coming home and reading on social media about how dull everyone else’s day has been or worse still who has been horribly and senselessly killed and where, before occasionally knocking up some hopefully witty nonsense that 12 people will read, and then going to bed. It’s not an exact science but if you have a better theory of why anyone would sit through an entire series of Quantico then I’d be very interested to hear it.

Of course, the real scourge of a depressed mind is overly positive people. My work is full of these people. Those who actually give a shit about the stuff we do which for me pays the mortgage and nothing else. This is clearly because I’m not where I thought I would be when I hit upon the idea of taking a journalism degree eighteen years ago. For my line of work I might just as well have left school at 16 and sat with my finger up my arse until I started working at Liverpool Community College around a year before I got my present job. It’s a pretty soul destroying thought which stops you from celebrating too much at the successful completion of a mundane administrative task. Others seem to love it and I suppose I envy them for that. But there’s no doubt in my mind that these people are batshit crazy.

Still with work, what about people who enjoy Friday? What’s fucking that about? My piss boils over when someone tells me to cheer up because it is Friday. But I have to smile and nod and agree that yes, isn’t it fucking fantastic that is Friday. No, it’s not. Friday is the same as every other day which may seem negative but by the same token if Friday is no better than any other day then Monday is no worse. So now who’s being negative when they come into the office on a Monday morning? You could die on a Friday just as you could get kidnapped by Jennifer Lawrence on a Monday. That’s all I’m saying.

Yet even the Friday fetishists have nothing on those who insist on making my innards spontaneously combust with their everyday messages of positivity. Talk on social media of getting up and ‘attacking’ the day just makes me want to stick pieces of hot coal in every orifice. I know these things are well intended but to put it bluntly you can’t fucking ‘beat’ Tuesday if Tuesday is a down day and you have a depressed mind so don’t fucking tell me to ‘be all I can be’. Especially not by going to some vainglorious fucking gym where everyone is beautiful and absolutely nobody has ever had hair like Willie Thorne. I’ve never understood the attraction of gyms and I have given them a fair go. I trained regularly in my previous life as an athlete but I’ve never been one of those people lucky enough to actually enjoy it. They say it is addictive but like smoking and drinking it’s something I’ve never been unable to go without. Addicts say you get a buzz and good luck to them if that is the case but I’ve never had it. As far as I can see you get out of breath and sweaty and you stay the same weight. So if you are an overweight biff when you go in you will be an overweight biff when you come out. You’ll just be sweatier and struggling for air. As well as struggling for hair.

Remember that study about browsing social media and its potential to make you feel lousy? The previous 1,000 words show that there may be something to it.

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