Galway swears off social media for a month, for a very good reason
Galway’s decision to swear off social media for a month not only prompted some worthwhile debate this summer but has just culminated in a really practical benefit.
The Tribe’s ladies footballers have just rounded up the last of their sponsorship money and raised a whopping €10,000 for Pieta House, the prominent suicide charity. Giving up their smart phones for four weeks had other benefits and the only real drawback, according to instigator and team captain Edel Concannon, was a very practical one.
“The first game we went to without our phones was a challenge match. A load of us were late because we’d no Google maps,” she recalled with a chuckle. “I actually Googled it on the laptop before I left and drew it out on a piece of paper. How ridiculous is that?”
She still laughs too at the crestfallen expression of one young teammate the night they passed around a petition in training, asking everyone to quit using social media on their phones for a spell.
“She was biting her lip and didn’t sign it. She contacted me later that night to say ‘sorry, I panicked and ran but I will do it!’”
At 29, Concannon is 10 years older than teammates like Megan Glynn but she confesses to being as addicted to her phone as any of them.
“The idea came from quite a serious place originally. I was a joke on the phone,” she admitted.
“My sister and mam used to kill me. The younger girls use Snapchat a lot but I was addicted to checking Twitter and WhatsApp, and scrolling things in general. I was getting progressively worst.
“I had just done the Darkness Into Light run for Pieta House, was due an upgrade on my phone and was thinking I might just get a plain button phone so I mentioned it to the others and we decided to do it for charity.”
A science teacher in Athlone Community School, Concannon believes the modern compulsion to constantly document and compare lives on social media is not just a huge time-waster but potentially damaging for the psyche.
“It definitely affected my mental health, even in a small way. I used to come off Snapchat especially thinking ‘God, I’ve an awful boring life!’ Then you’d feel anytime you’d do something you had to post it up.
“I feel sorry for the younger generation, this notion of how many friends and followers and ‘likes’ you have, that this is their shop window and they feel judged by that.”
So was her idea - part social experiment, part mental health tutorial – a success?
“A lot of us found it very therapeutic, our heads were cleared,” she noted. Without their phones her teammates certainly observed how invasive they can be in social situations.
“I don’t know if some of them quite got the mental health element of it but it was certainly worth doing, if only to notice how much time they’re spending on it and how rude it can be as well.”
She fully accepts the advantages of social media, especially in team situations.
“We have a WhatsApp group within the team and it is really useful for things like getting girls lifts to training and confirming where training is.”
After losing their five in-a-row bid in the Connacht final her team has to re-group quickly for Monday’s tough TG4 All-Ireland SFC qualifier against Donegal.
“We had a player sin-binned just before half-time and missed two or three goals. I was in front of the goal at one stage and couldn’t even hit the woodwork!” she said candidly of losing to Mayo. “They got a few goals then and that’s very hard to claw that back.
“Our biggest problem is lack of consistency. We’ve got a lot of young girls coming through who are really good and really stepping up. When we’re good we’re good, but, when the wheels fall off, all four seem to fall off together so we’re working on that.
“We’ve played Donegal in a few challenge games but we were in different divisions in the league so this will be different.
“Donegal will always be tough to beat but that’s what you want in the Qualifiers if you’re to progress and improve.”
And, off-field, is Concannon finally cured now of her social media addiction?
“Actually I’ve got into a habit of having a little peek at it before I go to sleep and find myself going to sleep later and later,” she confessed. “I’m going to have to pull back on that again now.”
The Ladies Football Championship Final will take centre stage September 25th. Be there to show your #SeriousSupport.