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Carol copyI got on my high horse last week and wrote a controversial article about Facebook and social media for The Huffington Post. Old Grumpy hates social media and I mean hates it, so he was quite pleased that for once I was on his side. Now, you all know how much I love being online but there are a few things that are beginning to worry me …

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I, like many others of our generation, love social media, especially Facebook. I have hundreds of friends who share my humor, my passion for traveling and writing, and help me out with computer queries and offer advice on various aging issues I may have. I have friends who live abroad and when I chat to them I can almost pretend I am in the same room as them even though we are hundreds of miles apart. I discover the latest trends, have a laugh in various closed groups, obtain useful information about the menopause and generally spend hours gleaning facts, researching for books and enjoying social time. So, why do I now believe we ought to change our habits and get off Facebook and other social websites?

A couple of weeks ago, an ITV program featuring the Forrest family from Lancashire (mother Justine is one of my many friends on Facebook) focused on the negative effects of the Internet. The family gave up everything electronic for a week and suddenly discovered they could have fun as a family rather than continuing with their insular lives where each member hid behind phones and laptops, even Skyping or messaging each other rather than sit in the same room and talk to each other. Going ‘cold turkey’ was almost impossible for Justine who is a social media junkie. She is not alone. I fear that I, too, could be considered a borderline junkie.

Social media is fine when, like all things that are bad for us, it is used sensibly and in moderation. However, abuse it at your peril.

Reasons you should turn off your phone or tablet now include:

1. Checking through people’s statuses can make you depressed, especially when you are reading about exotic holidays or fun nights out and you are at home.
2. The blue light that is emitted from a tablet or phone suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, so you are likely to suffer a disturbed, sleepless night. Along with that you are more likely to become depressed or more stressed.
3. You may experience weight gain associated with people who go to sleep later and eat more after 8 p.m. because of surfing on the Internet.
4. Posture may well suffer due to holding your head at an incorrect angle leading to long-term problems and you could become victim of headaches and early wear and tear on your spine.

All of the above are concerns yet there is one issue that troubles me even more than all of the above — and that is the fact that we are becoming desensitized to what we see and accept on these social media websites, especially Facebook.

In an age where all age groups are becoming selfie-obsessed, I am seeing an increasing number of photographs of people that could be considered almost pornographic. One middle-aged ‘friend’ posted a photo of herself to show how much weight she had lost. In it she wore the tiniest bikini bottom and a top that revealed far more of her ample cleavage than it ought to, leaving nothing to the imagination. Another showed off a tattoo dressed only in skimpy briefs that clung to his private parts.

Call me a prude but I maintain we are far too accepting of what we see or look at. Not only do people pour out all their thoughts and beliefs online when hitherto these would have been kept secret in the confines of a private diary, but they seem content to show themselves off to an audience they barely know.

Before Facebook was invented in 2004, most sane people wouldn’t have allowed anyone to take a picture of them naked — or even in a bikini — and post it in a public place like the newsagent’s window. Yet plenty of people have no problem sticking a photo of themselves on Facebook in the skimpiest of outfits, lulled into a false sense of security that ‘only their friends can see it’ — but of course, lots of us — especially teenagers — have ‘friends’ on Facebook whom we wouldn’t recognize if they fell on the floor in front of us.

In her new novel, “After The Lie,” the author Kerry Fisher looks at how the Internet has desensitized us to shock and how attitudes have changed since as recently as …

Read the full article at the Huffington Post HUFF 50

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