Have you watched Black Mirror? If you haven’t, you need to. YOU 👏 HAVE 👏 TO! The series paints the perfect picture of how social media and the internet in general, has taken over our lives, as we wake up every day to log into our phones and computers and seek validation from strangers on the Internet. Every episode has a different story, a different cast, written by different writers. The only common factor is references to technology and the internet. So really, you can start with any episode and still learn a thing or two.
Start with S01E8. Thank me by doing a social media addiction audit of yourself.
The truth is, most of us will never admit that we are addicted to social media. Our lives now revolve around what we have to post to get the most reactions, how many followers we have and how to get more, who said what on our posts and what is the best comeback to give so as to look ‘cool’ and be internet famous. And the filters, good Lord how we live for the filters!
I started out on Facebook in 2009. I was in Nairobi for my sister’s graduation and I somehow found my way into a cyber, where I created an account, because I was tired of being among the only ones in high school who wasn’t on Facebook. Fast forward to 2018, and I wish I had as many bank accounts as I have social media ones. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I felt like it had become the hub of my (social) life. Consequently I took a social media detox, just to see what would become of me. I deactivated all my accounts and uninstalled all apps. The minute I was done, I felt a sudden sense of freedom. Like I had been loosed from a bondage that has been controlling me for years.
To be honest, I feel like this break could ultimately be a breakup, and I would have no regrets whatsoever. I have learnt so much during this detox, and I thought I would share a few highlights.
1. No one calls anymore. In an era where everything is Whatsappd or DMd, personal calls are fast becoming a thing of the past. I have been off social media for a week and the only calls I have received are from work, mostly asking me about one task or the other or a deadline of some sort. You see, calls have a personal touch to them that Whatsapp and other chat apps do not. Make some calls today.
2. A lot of your personal stuff is tied to your social media accounts. Like your LinkedIn, or your blog, or the sign up pages to a number of websites you frequent. As a content creator, my blog is linked to all my platforms, which means that without them, my post reach is limited to email subscribers and randos who stumble on the blog by accident.
3. You will reach for your phone 598766555 times, out of habit. Then you realize that there is nothing for you to do on it, except check your photos and your email maybe. So you start to find other things to fill in the gap, like Bible study and ebooks and apps that improve your reflexes . You begin to call family and friends a lot more than you text or chat and it feels good.
4. Your phone battery lasts longer. And that is a good thing!
5. Sleeping early is no longer a hassle. Usually, we are up late browsing through feeds and laughing at memes and funny videos. Once these are out of the way, you find that it is way easier to go to bed early and get enough rest.
6. The washroom at work has 8 tiles. The one in your house has 18 and a half. You have to shake air freshener well before use. Now that you have no feed to scroll through as you conduct your lavatorial business, you can notice everything else. And be faster at it too!
7. Most of the people in your circle will not get why you are doing the ‘social media thing’. Don’t take it to heart. You understand your goals. Keep going.
8. You have ENOUGH time. And you realize that you can actually do a lot more than you have been doing. Exercise, cook good food, take a free course online, complete your tasks and assignments, and still have enough time to catch a breath.
9. No more internet marketers! No sponsored ads and target advertising by people who feel the need to push their opinions, products, and agendas your way, simply because you browse websites and they store information about your interests.
10. You can interact with people in REAL LIFE. No charades about how rich and ‘blessed’ people portray themselves to be on the web, no ‘work-hard-in-silence-and-let-your-success-speak-for-you’ activists who feel the need to loudly voice out that they are working hard in silence.
Insert eye roll.
You learn to hold meaningful conversations and to listen better. You no longer feel pressured to get engaged or married because all your friends are posting I Said Yes or I Do photos. Or to buy a car because every guy you went to campus with has since ditched Footsubishi and the woes of public transport in Nairobi and makes a point to show the world that they own a car.
11. You don’t miss social media. Matter of fact, you can live without it.