“We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, now were going to live on the internet!”
Sean Parker (Character) – The Social Network
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you would have noticed that we have gone through a digital revolution. In a decade, social media has revolutionised the way we communicate, buy and the way in which we do business. What was once considered a trend has fast become a new way of life. We are now connected to the world 24/7. Erased geographical boundaries; we can now share our photos and lives to anyone in the world. all from our smartphones.
Last week I decided to do a 7-day social network detox. Going back to the traditional ways of communicating; phone and text. The main reason for this was that we have become so reliant on social media. We are constantly connected which is owed to the smartphone craze. Sharing has become the new religion and privacy has taken a backseat to the notion that every thought or act should be published.
I’m not psychic but It’s likely that i can tell you the first thing you did this morning and the last thing you’ll do tonight? The same thing i do and millions of others – check our timelines. For the first time in a long time I haven’t checked my phone first thing in the morning and after only one day, my quality of sleep improved. No longer did it take me an hour to fall asleep after getting into bed. So it was no coincidence that in the same week, there were reports published in the papers linking insomnia to us using our phones in bed at night before we go to sleep. The time not spent on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook allowed me to occupy myself with books. Allowed for less distraction; I finished 2 books in a week.
I must admit, I did miss Twitter the most. I wanted to share the things I had read and seen. Especially during the Champions League game with Bayern Munich v Manchester United. Twitter is a wonderful place during football matches; the banter is 2nd to none. Rather than watch the timeline, I called a friend and we chatted for longer than I have for a while on the phone.
Overall, my detox week wasn’t as hard as first anticipated. I made more phone calls and enjoyed more conversations instead of simple chats. My phone battery lasted an entire day where I would usually have to charge it at least twice day. I wasn’t glued to my phone everywhere I went, it stayed in my pocket unless I needed to make a call or read a message. Perhaps I wasn’t the best person to conduct this experiment on as I’ve always been very aware of my presence on social media and I take great care in not allowing it to take over my life, but for some, it’s a different story.
In the digital age where the increased reliance on technology diminishing the need to physically interact with others. Has the word ‘social’ lost its true meaning?
SOCIAL; -adjective. 1. Pertaining to, devoted to, or characterised by friendly companionship or relations 2. Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly, sociable.
Humans are naturally social creatures. We have a need to be connected with others. Yet in the west we are fixated on individuality; measured by individual wealth, a career, self-image and consumerism. The platform of social networking has allowed this obsession with the self to manifest. We can manage our entire social life effectively -connecting with friends, and family, but we are replacing quality with quantity and reduced deep, meaningful friendships and conversations to chats and ‘Likes’. The average Facebook user has 200 friends – how much quality can you put into them all?
We’ve become obsessed with personal promotion where hyper visibility is the new symbol for status and power. Andrew Keen, who wrote a book ‘Digital Vertigo’ warns that what he calls this “cult of the social” is jeopardising both our individual privacy and liberty. He says we are “living in an age of great exhibitionism”. We can build and perfect our personal online profile, carefully selecting our words and grammar for the 140 character tweet. Upload dozens of filtered selfies, only posting what makes us look our best.
In an article for Psychology Today, doctor Pamela Rutledge says that the obsession with selfies can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and that indulging in them is indicative of narcissism, low self esteem, attention seeking behaviour and self-indulgence.
Of course, social media isn’t all doom and gloom. It just depends on how you use it. It can be great for your personal life. According to the dating site match.com, 1 in 4 relationships now start online. And in 20 years, it is predicted that half of all relationships will start online. It’s a necessary tool for networking as you are able to engage with your audience directly. Just look at the numbers. If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest – we can potentially connect with more than 1 billion people from the comfort of our own homes.
Is the social media revolution turning us into a bunch of self-centred narcissists? Or is it a revolutionary tool able to completely erase geographical Honestly, I think it can be both. As with anything, there are negatives and positives – It just depends on the individual. You are responsible for yourself therefore you have to take full responsibility of how you [ab]use social media.
“When we change the way we communicate, we change society.”
Clay Shirky – Writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies.
Ill leave you with a short film called “The Anti-Social Network.
THINK… IT’S STILL LEGAL!!!