I have somewhat been neglecting my own blog of late. It is time to jump back in and put fingers to keyboard once again!
[I promise I haven’t been slacking! A little while ago I wrote a guest post for Erin Lawless, (if you’re into books, writing or historical figures take a read of Erin’s blog) and I’ve been writing online content for other organisations. While it’s (usually) fun, it does slightly zap the desire to come home and write in my own blog after a long day. And moving on…]
Is it me or is EVERYONE getting married/having babies/moving in with their long-term partners?! Over the last five years or so it seems that all my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with is engagement/wedding announcements, hospital scans – and later photos – of babies and cliche photos of friends sat on the floor with takeaway and wine surrounded by boxes celebrating their successful first step on to the elusive property ladder. (I thought there was a recession?)
By comparison, my own appearances in friends newsfeeds consist mostly (I assume) of pictures I’ve liked (often content I was responsible for creating at work so it doesn’t really count), videos, dreams and wishes for job contracts and holidays and the odd tale about life in a foreign country building a church. Plus the most appalling photos that I’ve had the misfortune to be tagged in. While my friends lives seem to be progressing quite nicely and as expected for a *deepbreath* still-clinging-on-to-mid-twentysomething, my life seems not so far removed (and simultaneously worlds apart) from the life I lived as a 22-year-old student in England. My life is hurtling towards 30 with complete disregard of the fact I’m missing vital components of being a REAL PROPER ADULT (which, I assume is what I become in a couple of years time when I hit the big three-oh).
What’s bought this on? Mostly the fact that one of my oldest, bestest friends has just announced, via Facebook, the impending arrival of pitter patter feet later this year and the (unrelated) fact that I am going to be an aunty in a matter of weeks.
I know every generation goes through that moment of sudden realisation that, contrary to their belief, they are not so much “getting” as are “actually” old. I’d like to throw it out there that coming of age is not turning 18 or 21. Coming of age is really when you realise you and your friends have responsibilities that, until recently, were the domain of “proper adults”, an area that was once only occupied by your parents.
However, this moment of revelation is happening somewhat differently for my generation than it did for the generation before us. My generation, which seems to be somewhere inbetween Generation Y and the Millennial Generation, are playing out their life events through social media in a big way (and the Millennial Generation are doing this on an even larger scale). Facebook has a lot to answer to for making me feel older than my 27 years.
There’s the obligatory “OMG!! WE’RE ENGAGED!!!! OMG!!” status updates (ok yes, when they’re from people that I didn’t even know were dating someone perhaps that is a sign I need to cull my Facebook of people I clearly never speak to) which make me question whether I should be looking for the love of my life rather than bumbling along merrily. The engagement announcement is often swiftly followed by the endless wedding planning updates (to a wedding I’m probably not invited to because actually we haven’t spoken to each other since that night in the Union bar where we met and discovered a mutual love of, heck I don’t even remember now).
Then I have friends who are parents. They update, tweet and blog about everyday life with their kids. It’s kinda cute and I guess it’s the modern day equivalent to the Baby Books our parents kept (well actually, mine didn’t keep a book for any of us). But honestly, it’s been about 5 years since my newsfeed started to get clogged with baby tales and frankly I’m a little bored of them all now. (No offence, I’ve just seen enough baby photos this year to last me into 2015.)
But here’s the thing – what if I wasn’t on Facebook/Twitter etc, would I even know half of these people are engaged/married/pregnant/living with children? Would I even care? Surely the ones that mattered I’d be in regular contact with and would know at least the expected trajectory of their lives. And I would hope that if I was in England and was really as close as I think I am to some of the friends I’ve stayed in contact with, I’d get a text or a call or even a letter/email informing me of the news before the whole world is told on Facebook. (NB to friends reading this, 1. if you have ever informed everyone of your big announcement via social media this isn’t actually a stab at you, I promise and 2. please don’t judge me if I do a similar thing at some point. I know social media is an easy way to contact a lot of people in one go and disseminate your news while trying to avoid the awkwardness created by people who think they are the last to be told these things.)
While social media has been great for me to keep in touch with good friends (especially since I upped and left my home country), it has also kept me in the lives of those with whom I am not so close. And I think it is this that has given increased emphasis on what my life at 27 (almost 28) years of age should look like and how it should measure up. I should, according to the people Facebook shares in my newsfeed, actually be in a career by now, earning a packet, paying off my student loan, married or with a long term partner or at least dating someone, thinking about children, travelling the world etc.
Theses are all things, if I go by social media updates, that, as a person in my mid-to-late-20s, I should be doing. Only for some time, about the only one of those I was actually doing was experiencing foreign climes. Now I can probably just about tick off ‘in a career’. The rest, not really happening.
But while my newsfeed is regularly full of this wedding or that baby or this family yes, that is the fuel for this rant, it is also filled with other news from other friends who are still single, still unbabied or still trying to figure out what they want to do with life. So actually I’m not alone and, no, not EVERYONE is doing responsible grown up things yet, even if they probably should be.
The question is, 20 years from now when my friends’ children are growing up, getting married and having babies of their own, will their parents – my friends – be instagramming Jessica as she walks down the aisle, tagging their children’s friends in a million photographs or tweeting about the absolutely brilliant Father of the Bride speech they just gave? Is it just that we are a generation obsessed with documenting everything online?