Despite my affirmative headline I am going to start this blog post with a confession. I set up an Instagram account some years ago and quickly retreated after being told that it was a platform for young people. The advice was music to my ears at the time given that I had only started the account for fear of being left out on a global phenomenon.
Being a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) sufferer is another story for another day
It suited me as a midlifer to view social media as a new fangled thing for youngsters. All that photo taking, posting and living by ‘likes’ and number of views! Hadn’t I done a real world equivalent of that at the school gates and failed when the mums who didn’t work would ignore me because they had spent all day bonding at the local shopping mall or cafe? They may as well have given me a real life thumbs down or shouted ‘dislike’. I wasn’t about to live the same experiences online too.
Besides, social media, I was afraid, would take me out of my comfort zone for no good reason. At my age, 50s, I have this simple philosophy about anything new coming my way having to produce a good return on investment (ROI). Newness involves change which requires one to invest in it to produce benefits. You can tell that I work for a large organisation! Anyway, I led a boring and uneventful life, I told myself, which no one would be interested in.
Then came lockdown. People started sending URLs to funny Instagram and Tik Tok antics
But sitting on my own day after day in lockdown caused me to appraise my life and my fears.
The fear of social media was an irrational one especially because loads of midlifers were Instagrammers. Women over 45 were posting stories about how they were embracing midlife. It dawned on me that I had given in to fear and was missing out on the chance to make connections and enlarge my sphere of knowledge.
It also occurred to me that I was viewing my life as being uneventful because I was being ageist towards myself in thinking that an eventful life worth documenting was a younger person’s domain. I was making myself even more invisible than society already does of older women.
I took the plunge and posted about being alone on my birthday and on Mother’s Day. I posted about the privilege of having a garden in lockdown to escape to while many were housebound in small spaces.
My Instagram account grew from c.700 in March 2020 to well over 3,000 by the time the rules on working from home were lifted this year. Social media is, however, not a numbers game. It offers so much more than metrics.
In my case, it has enlarged my friendship group, contributed to my personal growth and brought me collaborative opportunities (make up, home decluttering and board games). The friendships have transferred into the real world. I have met up with a number of midlife women and now have regular weekend outings with them. I am extremely fortunate to have a new group of supportive midlife female friendships.
Social media is the new magic in my midlife.
If offers opportunities which I wouldn’t have managed to replicate in real life. Let’s face it, once you reach a certain stage in life, over 40, the opportunities to make new friends becomes rather slim. The spaces you inhabit such as the workplace or university friends are set and stagnant. Reframing your life requires a big transformation. This is what social media has done for me.
Many Instagram accounts are run by specialists on subjects such as the menopause and yoga. I wouldn’t have learnt as much about the menopause otherwise or started doing yoga which, by the way, is beneficial for midlife flexibility.
I became a Tik Toker three weeks ago and am seeing some success. Tik Tok is different from Instagram in that it offers shorter videos but a lot of these are fun to watch. There is also Facebook, of course, but it seems to be a mechanism for connecting with people who are in your friendship group already rather than affording new opportunities.
Here are three good reasons why you should join social media:
- Exploring your creative side – social media affords the opportunity to be creative because it’s about telling your story. Far too many women don’t realise the value of their life experiences. Sharing your wisdom or life’s experiences isn’t self-indulgence or the height of arrogance. Since Covid struck, people are looking to read real stories. Go ahead and share yours.
- Having fun – I adore looking for new experiences to record so I can share these. The video in this post was taken during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in Covent Garden, London. It was a moment of spontaneity. Something I wouldn’t have done if not for the opportunity to make others laugh on Tik Tok. Family members wouldn’t have been amused by a video on the family WhatsApp group of me dancing in the middle of a street with a robotic Bumblebee. The video has racked up approximately 12,000 views.
- Personal Growth – I have grown as a person from reading about topics such as personal resilience, imposter syndrome and, as I mentioned before, the menopause. Posts which take no more than 3 minutes to read contain a wealth of information which have contributed to my bank of knowledge. There is no way I would have the time to read books or other written material to pick up on as much as I do via social media.
I hope that I have convinced you. Drop me a message or, better still, connect with me. I look forward to meeting you.