I have now written over 100 blogs since I re-started writing back in February this year. Back then I did not want to put myself under pressure by committing to publishing something everyday, but in fact I have written daily since I re-started and no once have I woken up and struggled to find something to write about. I keep a list on my phone that I update whenever inspiration strikes so that I have some ideas at all times of subjects that might interest me, and you, the readers. I want to talk about social media today.
I only use Facebook, I am not on Twitter or Instagram, or any of the many other digital platforms. This blog is automatically set to share on Facebook and it has its own Facebook page. For me, Facebook is a means to share my thoughts with my network of friends and family. I like, when I am well, to share photographs of a happy Joshua to show them how we are doing. I like to use Facebook Messenger to communicate with people that I do not often see , such as cousins, ex-colleagues and friends from Joshua’s previous schools. For me it is a great way to keep in touch and as I often up early in the morning, I know now who else amongst my Facebook friends are early risers, so when I see somebody online earlier than usual, I often check in with them to ensure that they are not unwell. It happened a week or so ago, a friend’s early appearance was so unusual that I queried it, and it turned out that she was at an airport waiting to fly off on a family holiday but we had a lovely chat about her long weekend plans.
It is a sociable platform for me, so much so that when I am feeling low, I never consult Facebook. When I am feeling low, I do not wish to socialise with anyone, so I would not be able to chat online and the images that I would see of others’ happy holidays or proud boasts about their children would cut deep and make me feel worse. So, like my social life, my online, digital presence oscillates between being busy and engaged, to being quiet and distant.
Yesterday I was taught by a friend how to block someone on Facebook, which is not something that I have needed to do until now. Last month I was involved in an incident in my car; Joshua and I were heading out of town on one of our day trips. I followed the car in front of me past a parked car and as I was overtaking it, another car continued coming the other way and it was certainly a tight squeeze. As I looked behind me in my mirror, I saw that this car had stopped and the couple jumped out and were checking their car over. I knew that we had not bumped wing mirrors or anything, so I was confused and pulled over too to see if they were OK. I was met with a torrent of abuse from the female passenger who was incredibly rude and began taking photographs of my number plate. The driver more calmly explained that he had damaged his wheel by pulling into the kerb to avoid me. I was rattled by his wife and so I gave him my name and mobile number but we did not swap insurance details as there had been no collision. I asked her to stop shouting at me and I got back into my car, shaking and we carried on with our day trip – I was determined that they were not going to spoil our outing.
This week however he texted me a quotation for £895 of repairs, expecting me to pay for the damage. On reflection I had realised and this had been confirmed by everyone I consulted, including my Insurance company, that I was not liable as there had been no collision, he had simply misjudged the gap. So guided by my insurer, I replied to his text saying that the damage was not my fault and I gave him a phone number of my Insurance company if he wished to pursue it with them. Of course I got another text in reply so I repeated my same stance and blocked his number. That was not however the end of it, yesterday morning I received a message from a concerned stranger : he had seen my name in an angry facebook post on a community ‘Rant’ page, as he had taken to social media to name and shame me. I am not sure what he hoped to achieve from his rant but he did not get the support that he had hoped for, with many readers telling him that he should be ashamed of himself for naming me. With help, I have been able to block him from finding me on Facebook now, but this was a negative use of social media and I get the impression that this was not his first rant either.
The problem is that social media posts are not vetted, so people can say whatever they like, whether it is kind or accurate. The images and thoughts that I post are happy or thought-provoking ones, I would never use social media in an angry way or deliberately to show off either. However, my photographs on holidays or when out on daytrips could be construed as bragging – look where we are! I am very careful to keep everyone who I blog about , anonymous apart from Joshua and myself .
Joshua has had so many tough times in his life, so I am genuinely happy to share images of him having fun, either with me or at Daycare, to show that he is ‘living his best life’. His face is so expressive that he leaves no doubt whether or not he is enjoying himself. I feel that it is important to share these happy images, as many people think that due to his disability that he is to be pitied and that he has poor quality of life. I think that many of the photographs that I post disprove that theory and instead, they demonstrate his genuine lust for life.