A Digital Day-off, Please?

I wish there was one day a week where society would have an agreed “time out” from social media. A day where I can go to brunch with my friends and not have to pause mid conversation whilst we all check in, Instagram our food, or pointlessly compare whether other people on Facebook are having a better morning.

A marketing agency (Tecmark) found that the average person picks up their device 1,500 times a week, including checking email and Facebook before getting out of bed. That’s over 200 times a day! We have reached a point where we now spend more time peering into the lives of obscure acquaintances, celebrities and strangers than paying attention to our loved ones around us – and it’s a sad realisation. Would you really prefer to know where Paul from high school is going on holiday or how well Britney Spears’ kids skateboard than focus on your best friend sitting at the dinner table beside you? And what has it really come to when we measure personal success by how many likes we receive?

Facebook should now come with a package warning: May cause dependence and dissatisfaction with life. With (nearly) everyone busy trying to fool the world about the constantly wonderful life we’re living, it then leaves us with an empty feeling that we aren’t achieving as much. I don’t wish to sound all whiney-bah-humbug, but personally I’m sick of the baby photos from people who are practically strangers to me. And those shared posts from Buzzfeed, which I suspect slowly eat away my IQ every time I click on an article.

What are we supposed to post these days? I don’t want to share anything overly personal and I don’t want to be that person who shares trivial rubbish give times a day. Therefore I sit in stunned silence, merely logging on and liking everyone else’s “wonderful” lives instead. I’ve recently begun to use Facebook’s “Unfollow” / Prioritisation feature, to try and filter out this haze of almost-strangers. But it’s not quite enough and I’m debating removing the app altogether.

Social media is like sugar for the mind – you eat too much and it leaves you feeling sick and a little nervous. The younger generation already recognises Facebook has had its heyday, favouring private chat services like Whatsapp and less commercial channels like Instagram (currently with no ads) that their parents don’t understand yet. Perhaps it’s time for the rest of us to catch up.

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