Hello friends! It’s been exactly seven months and 10 days, or 223 days, since my last post (I looked it up). In fact, at the time of my last post I was still living in Shepherd’s Bush, losing the will to live on a daily basis commuting into the City on the Central Line and, although I didn’t know it at the time, slowly dying of boredom. Several things have happened since then, among them a move across London (I now, shock horror, call an E2 postcode my home) and a promotion (I still essentially do the same job, but my title has changed to something that sounds more like I actually know what I’m doing). There were lots of other little things (there must have been), but this post isn’t actually about what happened since September 2013. What I’m going to tell you about is what happened between 5th March and 17th April 2014, when I gave up Social Media for Lent.
It probably won’t suprise you that although I was baptised Catholic, I’m not an overly zealous Christian. I’ve always been a firm believer in the pick’n’mix approach to religion, trying to internalise the bits that teach us how to be good people but siphoning out the misoginy, homophobia and general fuckwittery that unfortunately comes in-built. But I do identify as Catholic, if only because it was the tradition I’ve been brought up in, and I’ve made a point of observing Lent for eight years now. Since 2007, I’ve given up a variety of vices for the six weeks leading up to Easter – sugar, alcohol, meat (before I became a bad vegetarian) and, most difficult of all, deep-fried things. For the last three years (since moving to London) the vice du jour has always been booze, but my ever worsening hangover paranoia has recently put a pretty enormous cork in my bottle, so coming up with something to give up proved pretty difficult this year. I don’t quite remember where I first got the idea to pick Facebook and co, but the sense of dread it filled me with immediately made me realise that I’d struck gold. Oddly, “I can’t do it” seemed to translate into “I have to do it”.
So I went cold turkey. I posted a status to let my friends and followers know I’d drop off the radar for a while, turned off the notifications on my phone so I wouldn’t be tempted back and waited for the DT’s to set in.
It was all a bit anticlimactic. Contrary to some of my friends’ expectations, I didn’t have to be restrained by my colleagues so I wouldn’t open Tweetdeck, and I didn’t go on sneaky midnight Facebook stalking sprees. I just kind of stopped thinking about it. After about a week, I realised that I didn’t have a clue what was going on in the world because I usually get all my news from Twitter, so I started listening to the radio on my way to work and made a point of skimming the broadsheets in my lunch break. I missed out on some gems from the lovely London Book Club people, such as the chance to shadow this year’s Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, and it took me considerably longer to find the answer to a number of pressing work-related questions because I couldn’t just tweet them at smarter people. But mainly I just kind of pottered on.
So yeah, there’s no big life lesson learnt. I guess social media is a bit of a time waster and we’d probably all do a bit better if we didn’t spend so much time stalking, judging and feeling jealous, but then again we kind of knew that, non? So to end this in a non-preachy way, here’s a list of all the cool things I did from 5th March to 17th April that I didn’t get to tell you about.
1. I bought a bicycle.
Isn’t it pretty? I got it off Gumtree and terrified my flatmate Jen when I said I’d text her every ten minutes on the first ride home from Brixton, but then my phone died and she thought I had too. Next day I got a little overexcited and decided to cycle to Richmond and back with my friend Mike, which turned out to be a 30 mile ride in total. My arse was in RIBBONS, but it was a lovely, sunny day and Mike introduced me to Stein’s, a traditional Bavarian beer garden right by the riverside in Richmond.
2. The boyfriend and I went to see the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford.
The butterbeer tasted like non-alcoholic butterscotch with melted vanilla ice-cream poured on top, but Diagon Alley and the concept art was pretty amazing.
3. We also went on a little trip to see some of the fam, and by Jove Jilly Cooper country is a heartbreakingly pretty neck of the woods.
And pretty decent pubs they have as well.
I spent Easter in Murcia with my sister, didn’t get sunburnt but did lots of other unhealthy things. Cycling to work was a bit of a pain for the first couple of days after my return.
5. I went to see Miranda Hart’s “What I call Live Show” at the O2 with my Twitter friend Victoria from Books, Biscuits and Tea and it was ace.
We had a bit of a moment when, never having met “in real life” before, we started gushing about the books we were reading, pulled them out of our bags and they turned out to be by the same author, Rainbow Rowell. I’ve now finished “Fangirl”, a sweet and quite addictive YA novel about a nerdy teenage fanfiction writer who slowly realises that falling in love is even nicer than writing about it. Miranda was brilliant too – on the way to the O2 I kept wondering which teenage megastar had a gig at the same time because surely all these people couldn’t be here to see Miranda? But they were, all 20 000 of them.
And that’s all folks.