Monday 26 September 2016

'My wife has threatened to leave me - we don't talk' - Irish social media addicts attempt to detox by going cold turkey for a week

TV3 documentary 'Ireland's Screen Slaves' charts three social media addicts as they grapple with their obsession

Published 15/10/2015 | 14:19

Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan, Saoirse Ormonde and Orla O'Neill
Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan, Saoirse Ormonde and Orla O'Neill
Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan and Saoirse Ormonde
Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - Saoirse Ormonde
Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan
Adrian Weckler

Three Irish social media addicts attempt to detox by going cold turkey for a week in TV3's new documentary Ireland's Screen Slaves.

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Constant access to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter is a fact of life for many Irish people these days but some are finding their involvement in social media is negatively affecting their real lives.

Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan and Saoirse Ormonde
Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan and Saoirse Ormonde

John Grennan (25), a married father of one from Tullamore, reveals his wife has threatened to leave him over his excessive use of Facebook and Snapchat.

"I live and breathe Facebook and Snapchat. I'm more known on Facebook than I am in real life. I even had my marriage broadcasted live on Facebook from Las Vegas," he reveals.

He says his wife Amy has "threatened to leave me - no joke, she is fed up of me on social media...we barely talk. My mother says I'm wasting my life on it along with my in-laws."

John wakes up in the morning and falls asleep at night checking Facebook. 

Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan
Disclosure Screen Slaves on TV3 - John Grennan

His family, in-laws, wife and even 4-year-old daughter Lola tell him to get to stop but still he feels his online presence is more important than real life. He knows that he should stop but just finds it too tempting to stay off Snapchat and Facebook.

“When Lola’s around and I’m on social media, 90% of the time I feel guilty and then 10% of the time when she’s screaming and shouting, it’s kind of an escape for me," he reveals.

"Yeah I do feel sorry for her sometimes but her mammy’s not as bad as me on Facebook so she has her mammy.”

For 15-year-old transition year student Saoirse Ormondde from Cappoquin in Waterford, social media is all consuming.

Adrian Weckler
Adrian Weckler

"My mam and friends and family always give out to me about being on my phone so much and I've recently had to get glasses to reduce the strain I put on my eyes," she says.

"My mam has taken my phone off me a lot which leads to massive arguments and me almost tearing the house apart to look for my phone."

Saoirse has over 3795 friends on Facebook and she says she "keeps tabs on them all".  She is also active on Snapchat and Instagram where she has 2887 followers.

“A lot of the way I am is because of social media, it’s made me a lot more confident in myself but it has made me conscious of myself. Instagram mostly is where you would get the good comments and the bad comments on your appearance.

“If I posted a selfie now and my eyes just looked a bit uneven or a bit cross eyed or anything, my friends would point it out. They wouldn’t be doing it to be nasty or anything, they’d just be doing it because it’s funny. We all do it but it would just make me conscious then that people who don’t know me would look at it and be like ‘oh yeah, she is a bit cross-eyed’.”

Saoirse admits to taking 20 selfies before finding one she likes and times her photos' likes - if they haven't received at least one like a minute in the first 15 minutes, she will delete them.

Orla O'Neill (40), a production manager from Moate in Co Westmeath does not think she's an addict even though her sister Sharon says "she has no life outside of Facebook. You talk to her, she doesn't even hear you.  She doesn't realise how bad she is."

Her husband Darren also says he has to nag her about her use, especially when she ignores visitors in their home, logging on to check her newsfeed and for status updates instead.

"I'm not an addict, no. Don't think so. I haven't done without it for a day so I don't know yet," says Orla.

Orla uses it to see what everyone else is up to while also documents every aspect of her own life, as well as that of her friends – with or without their consent.

She says if she didn’t have her phone she would die and she often misses out on enjoying life because she is too busy filming it, for example, at concerts.

“You do miss out on some parts [of concerts]. When I’m videoing, I can’t sing because I wouldn’t want anyone to hear me. There could be a good song on and I’m there mute and can’t do anything because I’m there videoing whatever song I like.

Ireland's Screen Slaves is presented by Irish Independent and Sunday Independent technology expert Adrian Weckler.

He also travels to music festival Castlepalooza and Dublin TweetUp to get the views of a wide variety of social media users and experts about how Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, are changing our relationships, our brains and our behaviours.

‘Ireland’s Screen Slaves’ airs Monday 19th October at 10pm on TV3

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