I recently spent a weekend in Berlin in the company of an intelligent and successful 21 year-old to whom I am closely related.
During my visit I did a bit of social media. I have two Twitter accounts, including @robertpimm; an Instagram account, a Facebook account and of course this WordPress account (also one of two – my other is at work).
It’s easy to spend a lot of time
observing my navel following my progress.
Instead of doing social media, enjoy a glass of iced Sipsmith Gin with a friend
Checking your smartphone in public drives some people crazy. But others perhaps put up with it more than they should.
I blame the telephone. When the public first adopted telephones in the early 19th Century, a call mattered: you’d stop what you were doing and go to the phone.
You’d interrupt a conversation. I remember being astonished by a friend in the 1980s who let a telephone ring instead of answering it.
Nowadays we all have phones about our persons 18 or 24 hours a day, and get messages many times an hour. Yet we still, atavistically, feel the need to respond instantly.
Meanwhile, half of us are driven frantic by the sense that we never have any time to do anything and have the attention span of a preoccupied gnat.
So how about the 21 year-old?
In the course of a 48-hour weekend, I didn’t see her look at her phone once.
‘I never use my phone in company,’ she told me. She pointed out that, since I’d come all the way to Berlin to see her, it would be madness for her to spend that time on social media.
I think she is a genius.
She also saves money on her phone bills.
So here’s how to detox. Start small. Try a an hour without touching your phone (I can often manage this). If you feel the urge to check the weather, or the football scores or stock prices or how many people have “liked” your Twitter or Instagram post, don’t. Try to extend to a two hours. Then a day. Then two days.
Try doing something else you enjoy so much you forget about all the things you could be checking on your phone. Go out for a meal. Watch a movie. Drink a beer.
Study others who seem more in control of their phone than you are.
Be smart. Be like a 21-year-old in Berlin.
For: it gives me a sense of fulfilment when people interact with my posts, “follow” me, and “like” me.
Against: all the time I am interacting with my social media, I’m interacting less with the human beings I’m physically with. This is a Bad Thing.