June 8th 2007. The day I joined Facebook. It’s been 10 years to the day since I first logged onto the site that has become a regular part of day to day life. To mark this moment, here is a post reflecting on my views of the current state of social media.
The days of writing hungover statuses and posting 50+ pictures into an album from a night out have been and gone.
Now I sit at home, at work, on the train or wherever I have a signal, scrolling through numerous social media feeds. No longer just browsing through Facebook. We have Twitter, Instagram, snap chat, Pinterest, Reddit. The list goes on. Election arguments between ‘friends’ and more political propaganda. Seeing these posts becomes draining, repetitive and boring.
Then there is the occasional glimpse of good news. The arrival of a friend’s first child. A new engagement or marriage. A friend starting a new job.
Some may think that social media gives us an open view into people’s life. But it is only a glimpse of the life that we choose to portray. A peak through a window that we all control.
I may be pointing out the obvious but I only post things that I want to share. The good bits. A filtered happy version of my semi-public life. I make no apologies for this. Especially when a lot of the drivel that I see on social media is either negative, hate-fuelled or generally ignorant and misinformed.
How we view others
We can often misinterpret other people’s lives through what is portrayed through their social media posts.
Occasionally a new video will pop up on my Facebook feed, posted by one of the many aspiring adventure types that I follow. They will be excited about heading out on a new cycling or walking adventure or the prospect of completing a new challenge. I too have been guilty of posting pictures and videos that fit all of these categories and more.
With each post from one of my adventures or expeditions, there will usually be this mixture of comments and views:
- Friends and family with words of encouragement and genuine happiness from my activities.
- Some snide comment with an undertone of resentment from an acquaintance. This person is probably not a real friend.
- People that comment that I’m ‘jammy’, ‘lucky’ or ‘work-shy’ (probably right in a way but not completely as I will explain).
Then again, most people will look at the post, continue to scroll on and not give it a second thought.
What people don’t see is the normal, day-to-day goings on that makes these often enviable trips possible. The hard work that went into saving for an adventure. There can be a large amount of planning and bureaucracy that can go into making an adventure happen. Arranging time off with work. Convincing my Mrs to approve of my idea to spend time away during precious leave periods and even ensuring that the dog walker can take Cleo out on extra walks whilst I’m away.
I am absolutely lucky. Many of the things I have been able to do, see and experience has been due to fortunate circumstances out of my control.
I was lucky to be born in the 1980’s. Be born a British national and have one of the most hassle-free passports in the world. I’m lucky to be healthy and have fantastic parents that have supported me. I’m lucky to live in a world that is the safest it has ever been with advances in technology that is often hard to keep up with. I’m lucky to have free healthcare and to have received a free education.
We make our own luck
But there is a lot that isn’t down to luck. We control our own future and only I have a say in where I end up by the time I’m 60.
Nothing replaces hard work, making new connections and putting yourself in the right place at the right time. Being positive, backing yourself and believing in a vision for your future will lead to you reaping the rewards at some point. I fully believe this.
People don’t see the hard work spent in the background. The long days I spent in the 24-hour centre at University to scrape a degree. The amount of time I have spent away, training and on operations with the military. Sacrifices my wife and I have had to make such as moving away from friends and family in Yorkshire and living overseas for over 3 years. Moving to 5 houses in 4 years.
This has all been my decision. I am not complaining. It was my choice to join the military and so far I have had a rewarding and enjoyable career. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life so far.
I see other people’s social media profiles and sometimes wish I was doing what they are doing. Cycling around the world, breaking a world record on a polar expedition or climbing a +8000m peak.
Then I realise there is nothing stopping me. If I really wanted to achieve one of these feats, all I need to do is set a clear target and focus all of my time and energy into that goal.
But then the usual excuses arise:
- ‘I can’t leave my job’
- ‘What would my wife/family/friends think?’
- ‘I don’t have the money’
- ‘I’m not experienced enough’
These can be fair excuses. But if I really wanted to achieve one of these goals, these excuses are insignificant.
Also, achieving these challenging feats of endurance and epic adventures are not a guarantee that I will be happy.
Happiness seems to be this thing we are all striving for but we only realise we had it when it is gone.
I am genuinely happy. Happiness doesn’t come from browsing social media and being envious of other people’s successes and adventures. It can only come from contentment in your own life. From how you feel today. I often forget that I’m actually happy in the job I am in now and often focus on the next job or the next expedition.
My aim is to no longer dwell on the next two years. Enjoy this moment as it will never come again.
I strive to make more time for friends and family. Not on social media, but in real life. Spend more time outdoors. Go for weekends away, camping in the mountains or by the coast. These are the experiences that make me the happiest. Not aspiring to be somebody else on social media.
If you enjoyed this post, be a legend and subscribe to my mailing list below. You will receive a monthly email with updates, future posts and advice for planning your own adventures.