Are we becoming too connected?
Before I continue, I’d like to just say that this is me being the pot who calls the kettle black. At the end, you can say to yourself “did that just happen.” Well, it’s about to, so you can either use some of the advice in this article or not.
It is part of my profession to be connected on social networks daily, to post updates, to keep people informed and to have interactive conversations, in a nutshell it’s what I do to keep a roof over my head. However, in January I decided that I was going to make a conscious effort to cut back on “personal” use because I had started to feel like I had a relationship with the internet rather than with myself and my life. It’s now almost the end of February and I’m still plugged in tighter than a wine cork but I am not throwing in the towel just yet. On the plus side, the weather is getting warmer which is a distraction from the shiny things that have a hold of me right now. Logging off will get easier as the grass gets greener. By the way, in this case it is greener on the other side.
A Digital Society
There is no doubt that what we are witnessing here, with regard to how we communicate and share, is a revolutionary and exciting time for so many reasons, from consumer empowerment to social change and ignited advocacy. In the same token, we’ve become completely enveloped in our cyber lives that for some of us, our real life is suffering. I would never say to do anything so drastic as to unplug entirely but I do believe there exists a balance, or at least that is what they tell me. It’s difficult for to personally disconnect with the temptation of being connected for work. However, the rest of you (77.4% of the population) on the internet, yeah you, what the hell is your excuse? I think we’re doing ourselves a serious injustice by spending a majority of our free time online rather than out in the real world experiencing life.
I know many people will cling to the fact that social networks and the internet keep their families and friends easily accessible. To me, however, there is a certain level of true connectivity that is lacking when we communicate online daily rather than making time to do things together and spend real time (not real time web) with one another. There is no replacement for face to face conversation and I fear we are losing the desire for it, some of us that is. Remember the days when we just called each other on the phone, made plans and just stuck to that? Nowadays we text or email each other constantly just to finalize one plan and though we may create events on Facebook and end up getting together, we end up on Facebook the entire time giving our friends and family a play by play of what we’re doing. When did we become so audience obsessed?
About a month ago, in conversation (face to face) with a good friend of mine I was looking down at my phone, answering emails and texts, not thinking for a second that what I was doing was rude. It’s just become so “normal.” Well, to her it was not normal. In fact, she was so offended by what I was doing and how rude it truly was that she expressed it and not in a “hey, you’re being rude” kind of way. Instead, it was more of genuine concern for me and what she felt, was becoming borderline unhealthy. In that moment, I think I hit some sort of interweb rock bottom. “Things have to change.”
Cause and Effect
Well we covered the cause. Now let’s discuss some of the effects. Our work is suffering because of constant distractions. Our relationships suffer because we commit more to telling a stupid box what’s on our minds ten or more times a day, rather than just telling each other face to face. Our privacy and intimate details of our lives have now become a sitcom for the world to see. We’ve become some sick breed of egocentric wannabe celebrities that are constantly looking for reassurance in the form of a “like.” If this seems harsh, well imagine what I felt when I was faced with the harsh reality of what I am starting to become. It’s no wonder Zombies have become such a fad, we’re all becoming them.
Everything in Moderation
Like your meats, fruits, veggies and grains..ingest the internet in moderation. Instead of sharing every one of the most exciting events of your life on the web, pick up the phone and share that excitement with friends and family. If you’re feeling like no one cares it’s because you’ve become so accustomed to that “like” button, a button that in the great scheme of the things means nothing other than an impression or view, big deal. Congratulations you were lucky enough to catch some other zombie’s attention at that given moment. I hear people complain daily about how they don’t understand why no one comments or likes their updates on Facebook and I am always like, heh? “How do you get so many comments on your posts Shana?”, I hear. There’s a difference between a personal user and professional doing personal branding or a business trying to grow. You’re not a brand trying to create awareness and boost revenue, you’re not a cause that needs activism, you’re not a band looking to build their fan base. You’re just another average Joe or Jane who created a profile on Facebook or Twitter or wherever to have a little fun and keep in contact with friends, stop taking it so seriously. Is it really that important how many “likes” you get?
Om. Relax. Find Balance.
Take a few moments and rethink how you spend your free time in life. Are you fulfilled? If you even think for a second, that you may potentially spend too much time online, odds are you do. I do, I know I do. However, gradually I am making changes necessary to get back to simplicity and enjoy my free time, offline. Start thinking about those hobbies you once loved and start getting back into them. Remember what life was like before all of this. I blame damn beepers, they changed everything. Back to my point, being connected is great but you need time for yourself in the real world. Not only for your health but for your emotional stability, for your sanity! Be emotionally charged by the life you have off of the social network wall. Give someone a real hug, instead of a poke. Ask someone for feedback over lunch rather than a blog post. Turn your mobile phones and log off your computers for a few or more hours a day if you can, and see what’s happening in the world around you. Today, I told someone I needed a vacation and his response was, “How are you going to get away from yourself?”. He’s right, only we have control over what we do and if we need a break it’s up to us to take one.
Update your life, not your status. Log into yourself instead of the internet.
Just something to think about.. Yeah, that really did just happen.