Saturday, January 5, 2013

Do you suffer from technology anxiety?

There was a discussion on the radio today about social media and its effect on the lives of those who use it, and once again I felt that the discussion focused on the negative impact.

Yes some people do ignore real life and the real people around them in favour of checking Facebook or Twitter, including my children at times.

But it doesn't have to be like that.

After I lost my job in 2008 I craved contact and interaction and information.  Every morning I would check my emails, have a look at rollercoaster.ie and my Facebook page.  There would be little to see and by 9.30am and I would be sitting staring at the screen willing something interesting to appear.

The rest of the morning was carefully choreographed: a bit of exercise, a bit of housework and a lot of mostly fruitless job applications.  My friends were busy and it was a lonely time for me.

That has all changed utterly now, and while I have social media I know that I need never feel bored and lonely again, even if I'm stuck in the house for the day, or if I'm stuck somewhere else.

It was through rollercoaster that I found and joined PACUB, the group protesting against cuts to child benefit, which is still fighting austerity today.

Through Facebook I rebuilt contact with family in Australia and nurtured friendships in the UK, twenty years after I moved to Ireland.  And most of all I made new friends here, friends with kids like mine who understand special needs and who are generous with their time, support, friendship and information.

It was through Facebook and this blog that I started working for Hearts and Minds, so now I always seem to be on-line, constantly searching for good stories to help the community of families who are trying to get iPad for their kids by recycling mobile phones.  Sometimes my Facebook friends publish information that I can use, so it would be rude not to like a few other updates as I pass by...

And whenever I am working or blogging or simply hanging out on-line, I keep one eye on my twitter stream, for more news and information and entertainment, for now or later.

So for me social media is fulfilling.  Perhaps other people are like that.  Perhaps people switch on their phones when the 'seatbelts on' sign goes off through boredom, not 'technology anxiety' .  Perhaps they are just glad to be reconnected with the world and have something entertaining to read or play again while they wait to get off the plane.

You see I hate waiting, and there is a lot of it in my life.  Waiting for my kids to do things, waiting in queues, waiting at appointments, waiting in line at the checkout.  Now I can just look at twitter and my anxiety decreases.

A story was told about an older couple who used to spend their evening together in front of the TV.  Now she has a tablet and looks at that while the TV is on.  He doesn't like it.  And yes I can understand that, but I did wonder who's in charge of the remote control?  If I had a partner of many years, would we always watch TV together?  I suspect not.  When watching TV or films with my kids, they often use laptops or phones at the same time...

But there are many times when I switch off the internet on my phone.  Many of my friends are not on-line and when I am with them, I only check my phone for texts and calls in case they're about my kids.  Some nights out seem to involve lots of photos being taken and posted on-line, but I've stopped doing so much of that - because I forgot to enjoy myself!  

When I have published this post the laptop will be closed and it will stay that way until I do more work.  Well in theory, anyway...

So do you suffer from 'technology anxiety' or does it enhance your life?  Or do you just ignore it?

28 comments:

  1. Social media sites have definitely transformed day to day living. More than most I should not like them as my ex husband met someone online and left me for her! However, saying that, I found so many great friends online and great resources for both my daughter and my family that I cannot be very negative about it all. Blogging in particular has opened up a whole new way of life for me. My special needs blog has been cathartic whilst hopefully helping others understand special needs. My new book blog is opening up new career possibilities for me. Instead of sitting watching mindless tv every nite, families are either reading on tablets, or spending time on their laptops or phones. In our house there seems to be a constant stream of information and news being downloaded into our home. My laptop is never switched off and is always open. However, there does have to be a balance between being constantly online and spending quality family time together. But surely there was always a balance between family life and something else, battling for supremecy long before social media existed. Its just a different kind of battle now? The rule we do have is that there are to be no gadgets at the table - either at home or eating out. And, if someone talks to you, put the damn gadget down and look at them when speaking to them lol.

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    1. Yes! When I was young the battle was between Lego and family time as I remember! No gadgets at the table is an aspiration now sadly - eating out is impossible unless my son has his DS, and the hour or so I spend helping Smiley eat each of her meals is made more tolerable for me by keeping one eye on twitter :)

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  2. I started to use the social media sites when I had found out that the information I got here about the possible help for my son are none. OK I was using internet before, but was not on FB or Twitter before, I had my e-mail and that was enough at that time.
    Some time later when all my friends told me that I was 'out of time' not being on FB, I said to my self - give it a try - so, I did. Through it I found many wonderful people who are supportive, friendly, helpful and understands what we are going through.
    Few weeks ago I changed my mobile and now that I have possibility to be 'on-line'- anytime and anywhere - sure that I use it. As a full time working mother I am unable to be on FB or Twitter the whole time, but it is nice when only 'important' things pop up and I can check them quickly and going back to work.
    I hated waiting - always did, always will - but now at least I will be nervous anymore as I can read books on my Note..
    So, I don't think that I might suffer from 'technology anxiety. Why do I think of that? Well, simply... If I know that I don't have the access to internet, I'm cool with it... Simple.
    .

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    1. I would get the jitters I think if I had no internet access for long :)

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  3. I don't have a smartphone and cannot access the internet on my phone. Also, I am often off-line for days. So, I don't think I suffer from technology anxiety. I, like you, have found the internet and social networking sites to be great resources and I think I would feel very cut off without them. I heard that radio piece too though and I could see how people's overuse of technology could have negative implications especially if it leads to ignoring a young child.

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    1. Yes I hate the idea of children being ignored in favour of social media - but then I have observed many other situations of parents ignoring their kids: I used to see it in pubs on Sunday afternoons, don't know if that is still true tho'....

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  4. Enhances my life, like you I hate waiting, I love it.

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  5. It has totally enhanced my life. Before I felt so alone with Boo. But I have found sites like yours that not only validate my feeling knob us but uplift them!

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  6. Excellent post Blue Sky. Social Media has very much enhanced my life. I am getting very fed up with the negative coverage it's getting of late. Mostly by people who are not immersed or even part of it, in any shape or form. And I too can be part of that couple in front of the TV. And sometimes my disbelieving/disinterested Mr Jazzy can find the twitter comments I read out while we're both watching, say the Frontline programme,interesting! he may even throw me a line or two to reply with! He is not up for conversion though.

    xx Jazzy

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    1. Love the idea of you and Mr Jazzy sharing twitter comments :) xx

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  7. For me social media has been better than I ever anticipated. I knew nothing about social media until about 2 years ago and whilst I still have to dip my toes into FB, I enjoy twitter a lot. I enjoy the chats, the information, the awareness and the comps. I find I can dip in and out depending on how much time I have. Much better than some of the rubbish on the telly at the moment. As for blogging, what can I say; I write more, read more and learn more and whilst I don't make any money from it, its definitely enriched my life. Without it, I think I would have become more isolated and unwell. Deb

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    1. I also love the way that social media is just there for you when YOU need it xx

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  8. I love social media, especially when it comes to autism. It has opened up my world and introduced me to other parents who walk the same path. I do try hard to keep a balance... you know, see my friends etc as well as being online. Great post and an excellent topic for discussion.

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    1. Ah yes, IRL friends are vital too, and sometimes you become friends in both places, which is even better :)

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  9. Fab post. Social media and t'internet has been a lifesaver since I don't live close to family/old friends. It also keeps me informed with what's going on in the world and it was a lifesaver when I was suffering with Hyperemesis during pregnancy and needed information to help me carry on. I've also come across wonderful people (such as yourself) who I never would have done were it not for social media. I do tend to dip in and out in a cyclical fashion though as sometimes I'm a) just too darned busy, or b) needing time out to recharge my social batteries :)

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    1. Wonderful people - including all of you here - is definitely a huge part of what makes social media so amazing :)

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  10. I became hooked on facebook when i was breastfeeding my baby early last year - my ipad balanced on the arm of the chair, and it really was like a lifeline as i discovered so many people out there who understood or were in a similar situation and could understand. I remember the early morning feed being the most boring because like you say noone else was awake and on facebook at that time of day. It is hard to get the balance right and that is something i need to address this year. Thankfully i don't really understand twitter and i can't get much to my phone so it is only an issue when i spend most of the evening on the computer. But with the right balance i think social media is great and my opinion has changed so much since i first went on facebook when i really didn't like it at all. I wish these things were around when my mum was alive as i think it would have helped her so much because at the very least I could have stayed in touch with her better. thanks for a fab, thought-provoking post. xxx

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    1. You're welcome :) and I've never thought of it in connection with my Mum, who died before I got a Facebook account, but youre right, she would have loved all the regular news updates :)

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  11. I think it has definitely enhanced my life...I met you for starters! Before Facebook and Blogging I felt isolated, felt people didn't understand and I had a wealth of knowledge and no one to share it with. This way I can.

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  12. Meeting you was amazing, as it's so rare that I come across anyone else in a similar situation :)

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  13. Without social media I wouldn't have discovered wonderful people like you, C!

    There used to be a time when I was absolutely hooked on FB but I'm not so much anymore. I was hooked on Twitter but not so much. I'm really into Instagram at the moment as I love photography - and I'm a bit nosey! I love how Instagram will often me inspire me to do things like bake, decorate or craft.

    I also love how social media can make you feel part of a community or family almost when you may be feeling so alone. It offers support. Sadly, sometimes, it can get a bit fraught with nasty spats but luckily I haven't been involved, although I've seen how it effects others.

    It's definitely enhanced my life and I feel in control of it - it doesn't control me xx

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    1. That's such an important point - about not letting it control you :) And I've never really got involved in nasty spats either, except inadvertently on the sidelines, though it does mean that I avoid discussing certain subjects, because I know there'll just be trouble xx

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  14. I have made some special friends through social media and it has opened up my world, I feel lucky to have had support through Twitter during some really dark times. x

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  15. Barbara TherExtrasJanuary 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Recommend this post:
    http://www.happybeingtrevy.com/2013/01/nope-not-yet.html

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    1. Good to hear from you and thanks for the recommendation :)

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