Last week I took a 24-hour break from social media. Now for me, this is pretty big. I actively post on three sites and a few others less often.
I dream about posting; I dream about having my Facebook page liked or unliked; I dream about gaining Twitter followers. Surely during the nighttime hours of sleep my mind could occupy itself with sweeter images than these. And yet…
Often I get up from watching a good TV show or reading an excellent book in order to compulsively check my email, look at my notifications and to post something new. I fear I may be a social media addict. That’s why I took a day to dry out.
It was hard. Initially, I felt at loose ends, like I should have something to do, somewhere to go. After a bit, I began to relax into my time off, and my mind became freer and clearer, less cluttered. I thought the virtual world revolved around me but when I checked-in the following morning, I was horrified to discover that I was not missed. Not even a little! The virtual world did not spin off its axis in my absence. I felt happy and sad, relieved and dejected.
In a sense, social media is real. The people behind the posts are certainly real, and there’s a responsibility to be respectful and kind when online. Hurt feelings are hurt feelings, online or off. Being blocked or banned or having the door slammed in your face feel the same. Losing a friend is losing a friend.
But social media is restricted by the fact that it is virtual. If I need an egg or a cup of sugar, I go next door or across the street. If I get stuck in the alley after a heavy snowfall, I’m glad that Bob is not my Facebook friend but instead is my real neighbour and will give me a push. I know my 7800 Twitter followers won’t be crammed into the community hall the day of my funeral.
Social media builds bridges. Lots of times I’ll receive kind post comments from neighbours I rarely see or talk to – people who live in a 20 kilometre radius of me. I “like” their comments, but I don’t phone them or invite them over for coffee, for tea, or for something with a bit more of a kick. It’s sad. I crave company, but instead of making an effort and seeking it out, I sit in front of this computer screen.
I know, I know. I see the irony, as well. You don’t have to point it out. When I’m done writing this, recording it, and reading it over a couple times, I’ll post it online for you to see. Without this virtual connection, you would never know the things I think about and how I view the world. For this and for the connections I’ve made online, I am grateful to social media.
During the upcoming week I’ll take another day off from social media – probably Tuesday again. Maybe I’ll make a phone call or watch an entire TV show or venture out for coffee. For one day I’ll try not to forsake real life for a life lived online. Wish me luck.
Categories: Classic Post