I’m not one of those who grumbles about social media. I am unabashedly on social media and I find those who announce their departure from it as if they’re waiting for congratulations of some sort stupid.
Since the coronavirus struck it appears that a lot more people have become a lot more active online. That can be a good thing, because more content, right? I’d love it if people start blogging more.
There seems to be a lot of content on the lines of things to do when you’re on lockdown – shows to watch, books to read, hobbies to take up, homeschooling resources.* I’m wondering though – do people have more free time now? I certainly don’t. My work workload hasn’t diminished while I now I have additional duties related to my children’s schooling. I am knackered at the end of the day.
There are these musicians posting stuff online and online lectures and I’m like ooh I should check that out, except where is the time?
Then, there are new chains on Facebook that I don’t quite see the point of – post a photo of yourself in a sari or photo of a place you haven’t been to.
The worst change, however, has been the resurgence of activity on once-defunct whatsapp groups. Suddenly, people have a common topic to talk about, I guess. But many of these people do not really have much else in common and come from very different backgrounds and perspectives, and it shows.
A lot of the content on these groups is people just forwarding stuff though. And this has clarified for me how I use different social media for different purposes.
Facebook is for posting stuff – interesting articles, memes, short comments and some personal sharing. I’m not active on Twitter, but I would use it for it for sharing articles this purpose too (minus the personal photos). I have almost entirely stopped sharing personal photos on Facebook, though I’m not averse to other people doing so.
Instagram is for posting snippets of beauty and the odd meme.
Whatsapp is for actually keeping in touch with people you want to keep in touch with. It is for people who are not on gtalk all day. I do not appreciate seeing forwards on Whatsapp. The odd one is fine, and perhaps if people posted something and then said what they thought about it so that a discussion could ensure, that would be fine too. But just sending a link, or god forbid a video (I never watch videos) is tres annoying.
I used to feel obliged to click the link and say something out of politeness – though I draw the line at videos – but now I can’t be arsed. People have suddenly got very link-happy and I don’t find it worthwhile keeping up with the deluge. If people just posted this stuff on Facebook then one could scroll through/ignore it at leisure as opposed to being alerted to it just because it’s been posted on a platform which also conveys personal messages that I do want to read.
Also, people are now doing video calls, a development which rather bemuses me, because I don’t see why I should be doing a video call with people who I haven’t exchanged even a whataspp with for ages.
I suppose people normally have more a active social life that I do. In a good month, I might meet up with friends twice a week; in the recent past, it’s been once a month. So eschewing that is not a big sacrifice really. I’m not saying this state of affairs is a good thing, just in this regard I don’t seem to be having the massive withdrawal symptoms a lot of others are.
Despite my scepticism, I found myself actually setting up such a call myself; even for an introvert like me, the sameness of the week is bound to get to one. Having a scheduled call offers something to look forward to and, hey, if one finally catches up with elusive peeps, maybe that’s a good thing. I think the ideal number of people per call is 3 though.
*I don’t need additional homeschooling resources because I’m struggling to ensure that what needs to get done, gets done. Also, a lot of the activities that get posted require kids to be on a screen, which they already are excessively on now that their entire schooling has gone online. This might not be the situation for everyone. Some schools are unable to send across enough work and parents might find these resources useful. But using them requires planning and organisation – more work for parents.
This situation has concretised my fear of what ‘online education’ would look like though. Every week, our school seems to add a new e-resource; this week it is an online library, to read books online. I know access to these resources is a privilege. But I also think that teachers need to step back a little and see if they can offer activities that don’t involve looking at a screen.