It’s Saturday night again, and I’m sure none of you will be surprised to know that the Silver Family donned their pyjamas a little after 7pm. In fact, I think Daddio had his on before the kids tonight. And now, at half past 9, I’m able to hear both kids and Daddio snoring while I tap away in the bedroom. It’s another rock and roll evening in my 30s. And my God, I’m so glad this is how it is.
Once Upon a Time, in a bedsit far, far away…lived a 21 year old without a penny in her purse or a sober evening in her week. Riddled with undiagnosed social anxiety and a total lack of self esteem, she drank and smoked and smoked and drank and generally did things that most 21 year olds did. She would get a text at midnight to say that “he” was in Poser’s Nightclub and she’d get out of bed, throw on clothes and make up and be there in 15 minutes. I assume that the amount of hairspray she used meant that her hair was scientifically unable to go flat from sleeping on it. It’s a wonder she could actually lie down.
And once in Poser’s, rather than worry about silly things like work the next day or where her next meal was coming from, she would down shots and dance. All the while knowing that this was definitely who she was and everything she’d ever want to be. She’d sing loudly with her “best friend forever” in the Tattie Shop Queue and think about how this, this, was the BEST NIGHT EVER. She’d never forget it. She’d certainly never regret it. And next weekend, she’d have the next BEST NIGHT EVER. Because that’s sort of how it seemed to work.
Yes, life in my early 20s revolved around alcohol, “men” (or perhaps boys attempting to be men) and watching a new episode of “Friends” on Channel 4 at 9pm on a Friday. Or latterly Sex and the City at 10pm. Because if you didn’t watch it then, you didn’t see it until it was repeated. There were some long years before Sky Plus made it to my house.
My mid twenties saw me continue to make poor choices, those less fuelled by alcohol and more ruled by my quest for love. I tried Edinburgh and Turkey on my quest before I returned to good old Shetland in 2006 and settled back into the alcohol and Poser’s routine. 10 years on, the hangover has finally passed and I mainly find myself on the quest for sleep. Or chocolate. Or new pyjamas and a film I’ll eat chocolate while watching, then fall asleep halfway through.
I literally cannot remember the last time I was out. I mean, I remember the last time I left the house. I even left the house after 5pm last week and wasn’t home until after 7.30pm. And I was in a licensed premises. And I may have only had ginger beer, but I totally coud have ordered an actual beer. I mean, I had the Milk Man with me…so I wouldn’t have. And I was driving…so I couldn’t actually… But people probably saw me without the Little One and thought I was a real person out at a bar on a Tuesday night and thought, “wow, why does she have baby vomit on her?” It was ace.
In actual fact, the reason I was out that evening is one of note. I was with a friend. A real life, hug when we see each other, know each other’s secrets, can guess what the other one thinks about stuff friends. Not Facebook Friends. I genuinely know this girl. And it was super. Now, we do speak on Facebook Messenger on a regular basis. I may even have “tagged” her in a couple of comments here and there. There probably was a time when our statuses referred to our hilarious antics. I can’t pretend we never posted dodgy selfies or even whole albums of what our Saturday night had involved. But now, in 2016, we exist mainly in the real world.
I make this differentiation because she may be one of less than 10 people I actually meet up with outside of Facebook land. I kid myself that this is because of our busy lives. Or our children. Or our jobs. Or our location. Or because one or both of us is skint. Or it’s cold outside. But really, do you know why I never see the majority of my friends? Because I spend more time scrolling through snippets of their lives on a little screen than I do actually making the effort to spend time with them.
I dedicate more than an hour a day (possibly nearer 2…or 3) staring at my “News Feed”. I check up on the groups I have joined about parenting, breastfeeding and health conditions. I watch little videos with no sound on with instructions to make quick family meals that I would have time to make less quickly if I stopped watching the videos. I click on familiar faces on the selling pages and end up on the page of the sellers, husbands, best friends wife, who used to work with an ex colleague before I worked with them, who has a really cute dog and a lot of photos of said cute dog in an album called “My cute dog”.
I scroll while under a sleeping child. I scroll while I’m waiting to pick up the older child from school. I scroll while I’m on the toilet. I scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll. I do not dial anyone’s number. I do not send a text. I do not even manage to click on the “Send Message” button on a friend’s page. Because I’ve been distracted by considering if I can afford to buy the second hand hot tub that’s on the classifieds page. (Which, obviously, takes very little consideration indeed.)
So, why? Why am I a part of it all? Why do I throw away the hours I am lucky to have on this planet? Why do I waste such an unforgivable amount of time on looking at photographs of other people’s breakfast? Why do I feel like I have a duty to make sure I’ve “liked” the album of photos of a friends holiday somewhere I wish I was? Why don’t I press the “Deactivate” button we all know exists?
And I have no answers to these questions. I have no excuses. I have no genuine need to be on there. Yes, it’s where everyone announces everything. Yes, it’s how we know the time of the eldest’s football practice. Yes, it’s how most of you came to click the link to my blog. Yes, it’s where I get support during the long and exhausting nights of child rearing and breastfeeding. Yes, it’s a great way to make sure that the people who were mean to me in school aren’t too successful. But it does eat into valuable time…time I could almost certainly spend more wisely.
I just wish I could break the habit. But I’ve found that if my phone is within reach, I am scrolling. I’m often not even aware I’m doing it. I’m not even reading what I’m seeing half the time. And if I did stop. If I did decide to claim back that time. That (very conservatively speaking) hour a day, 7 hours a week, 364 hours a year…Surely I could find much more time to spend with friends in the real world. Perhaps going out and not drinking on a Tuesday night between 5pm and 7.30pm. Or sitting in a cafe, reminiscing about the days when we hadn’t even heard of Facebook and nobody put a filter on anything. A time when nobody hashtagged or Tweeted. When I didn’t have a clue if my ex colleague’s, ex colleague even had a dog. Let alone if it was cute.
It would be a better, healthier, less ridiculous world. And I’d almost certainly feel less rushed. Less inclined to speed read quotes from dead philosophers while being shocked by acquaintances political stances. But really, where would I post my blog?