Social media overdose


Last week I did something I haven’t done since 2007, I took a week long break from Facebook and Instagram. I have been an enthusiastic user of social networks and ever since I signed up on Facebook in 2007 and a few years later on Instagram, I have connected to both daily. After getting a smartphone, I started to spend more and more time clued to my phone browsing the infamous social media feeds. Now after having a kid, the free time has become more and more precious and I wouldn’t want to waste it by consuming other people’s lives, whereas I could be doing something more useful or especially more relaxing to me. And naturally I would like to set a good example my kid, not spending too much time clued to a screen. It’s already enough to have my phone usually close by to take photos and to keep contact with family and real life friends.

What I love about social media is that have gotten great ideas, inspiration and tips through it, from many smart and funny people I follow. If I haven’t appreciated someone’s posts, I have simply hidden this person. The best part of especially Facebook is, that I have gotten back in touch with people from all over the world and also easily kept contact with friends from home after moving abroad. But I have also just killed countless hours of time browsing the feeds for no apparent reason, in a bus, in a waiting line, even at work between tasks. I have stalked people, followed their lives even if they are not particularity close to me. I have felt jealous at times, seeing what other people are doing while I’m sitting home on a Friday night, even if it was my choice to take it easy. I have shared important moments of my life with all my 600 Facebook friends and monitored closely the amount of likes. In the past I have also shared each and every student party and others have shared too – this is the very reason that my tagged photos are visible only to me.

My social media use paradoxically maybe even increased after having a baby. Being far from family and friends in the same situation (except a couple of wonderful mamas here :*), I started to browse the Facebook mama groups, a very dangerous field. First the Finnish breastfeeding support group, then baby lead weaning support group (well this was not a success, we were so afraid the little buddy will choke that he’s still eating purées.) Then I started to follow English speaking mama groups in Paris region, this has been an amazing support but weirdly addictive. I ended up browsing these groups hectically first during my maternity leave and even after getting back to the office.

So I decided that it’s time for a rehab, thinking that it must be hard to spend a week away. Well turned out that it wasn’t that hard at all. I uninstalled Facebook and Instagram from my phone and social media blackout started. I kept Linkedin, but I rarely go there outside office hours. In the end didn’t even notice the week pass (having a baby and working might have something to do with this), and I didn’t really miss the social networks. I think it’s more of a habit actually, to fill the empty moments. Well, I did have a need to fiddle with my phone, so I ended up reading more news and sending more private messages via Whatsapp and Messenger to people that matter. Not a bad development at all! I did miss Instagram a couple of times, first when it was snowing in Paris (in March!) and I wanted to share the news to get some sympathy. Quite a many times I took a phone in my hand just to remember I had deleted those applications and then put it down again.

When the experiment ended on Thursday night I went to check my Facebook feed and was kind of disappointed, too many notifications for nothing that really mattered. I was very happy to see my closest friends’ holiday pictures though (keep on posting!). I still haven’t installed Facebook or Instagram on my phone. I think I will end up installing the applications back, but will try to limit their use.

By coincidence my Facebook strike started just before the news came out that Facebook apps have gathered information about us and the data have been sold to third parties. This is not really surprising, but it made me think again what I want to share and with who. I did checked my privacy setting page and found out that I have been stupid to sign up on certain web pages with my Facebook account just out of laziness..

I’m likely to remain an avid user of social media, it is just very useful for communication, but I will try to take more time offline. For my serenity’s sake and to concentrate more on the present moment, instead of trying to capture it to share it with hundreds of other people.


Things I miss from Finland

Sunset in Ruka Finland in early December

I have always been adapting easily to any environment and I do take pride in not being the home sick type. I was 18 years old when I left to work in France in a hotel in Roissy near Charles de Gaulle airport for 6 months. I was young and clueless, but even then it was easier for me to move to France than to come back home. After having spent one semester as an exchange student in Montréal and having a lot of fun I remember feeling a bit blue the whole summer when it was over. Not to mention leaving Tunisia after more than a year, having the time of my life and then settling back to Finland, leaving also the love of my life there.

However after 3 year and a 3 months exactly in France, there are plenty of things that I miss from Finland. I adapted to Paris quite easily but at times I do get home sick. Everyday life here can be quite frustrating at times (as in any big city ?) and more and more I do see the good side of good old Finland. I of course miss the family and friends the most, but besides of that, there are plenty of other things I long for…

Food and drinks. I guess you always miss the food from home. Finland is not very known for its cuisine, but after overdosing the first years in France on baguettes, cheese and red wine, I’m done. I miss the Finnish selection of different rye and wholegrain breads and of course the famous Karelian pies . Actually nowadays a baguette makes me see red. I miss the Edam cheese from Arla (Finns, you know what I mean). Sometimes I even dream of Prisma hypermarket. And I definitely miss Alko. The wines are delicious and mostly cheap in France, but I miss the selection of world wines. Ok ok, actually I just miss the tags with description of the wine and recommendations for food to accompany it, so easy! Have you ever opened a bottle of white wine after a hard day at work and had to spit it out as it was a sweet wine? Well I have and that is utterly disappointing. It will never happen if you buy wine from Alko. From non-alcoholic drinks I do miss normal fat-free milk. A cold glass of milk after a workout, with a meal, or even when you are hangover. Won’t happen in France with that UHT milk. Damn you.

Nature. While I was living in Espoo 20 minutes bus ride away from Helsinki city center, I went to cross country skiing in the winter time straight from my front door on the best days. In worst case I walked 300 metres with the skis on my shoulder and then I was in the forest, famous Espoo central park. Such a joy. One winter I skied until early April as it was so cold (what happened ever since – climate change?). But what I miss the most is definitely the sea. Baltic sea may not be the friendliest of the seas, but it is awesome to live by it. Nothing but a fresh sea breeze to make you feel better. And if the “city” life is too much, you just escape to family cottage by the lake which is literally in the Middle of Nowhere. Oh yes, we like nature and we don’t like neighbors.

Organization and honesty. In Finland you can pretty much rely on what people say. In France you need to be ready to fight for everything. People will tell you with a straight face that something is your fault, when it isn’t. Of course there are difficult people also in Finland, but at least you can trust authorities. If you go to a public office, you can pretty much get the things done without a hassle, your papers won’t get lost (oopsie!). Before I moved to France I had never sent a registered letter, as we trust people in public offices. Actually I didn’t even send letters since you can do everything online or over the phone. In Finland you get pretty much through any major changes in your life (changing a flat, a job, being sick), without having to print a wheelbarrow full of papers, having a check book, sending a lettre recommendée

These are the first things that come in my mind when I think what I miss from Finland. And these are things I certainly took for granted when living in Finland. Of course we have also one of the best education and healthcare system in the world, but enough bragging for now. Maybe, probably, all of this will be boringly safe and dull if I move back one day, but now let me light two candles for the Finnish Independence Day and feel le mal du pays.