I wish I could freeze all social media for one week, just to see what would happen…

I have found myself feeling like I just don’t have enough time at the end of every week, or even every day. I want to pick up projects that have been on the back burner, but before I know it, Monday rolls unforgivingly around and I feel back at square one. This pattern led me to have the following thought:

I wish I could store up all the time I waste (on social media) and have it handed back to me (like a tax return) at the end of every week. I wonder how much time it would all add up to, especially over a year, and how many other things I could have done in that time… 

I can only imagine feelings of elation. It would be like finishing a two-cup sleeve of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups only to have someone come along and say, “here’s two more, pal, have at it.” My curiosity was ignited so I started researching how many hours on average people spend on their phones. I landed on an article from the Huffington Post:

How many times would you estimate that you check your iPhone every day? Thirty, 40 or 50 times? Take whatever number you came up with and double it, and then you might be getting close.

See, we always say “I would [fill in the blank] but I don’t have the time.” However, I do believe it is not so much an issue of a lack of time as it is we just make/allow time for other things. Sure enough, as I read on, the article yielded what I was looking for, but was also afraid to find. A small preliminary study conducted by British psychologists found that…

Young adults used their phones an average of five hours a day — that’s roughly 1/3 of their total waking hours.

1/3! And 5 hours is just the average. Over one week that is potentially 35hrs! If you are ever wondering why millennials don’t want to work, it might be because they already have full time jobs. I will let you deduce a years-worth if you find yourself brave enough to know, it is not a number that should be written down. (Imagine Gandalf reading that last sentence to you, it usually has more of an impact on me).

We want our lives to progress, to grow into something beautiful, exciting, fulfilling…but there is a truth about looking for such things on or from the ever-ending internet that we would be better off realizing…

There will always be another “meme,” another joke. There will always be another controversial video (probably on “police brutality”) or heated debate (definitely about religion). There will always be another selfie, another viral video, another thing to covet, disagree with, make you angry, sad, momentarily happy, increasingly cynical or wary about the government (or people in general), etc. However, what we can 100% guarantee there will not always be a surplus of is…your time; your spry, ambitious youth and capable mind. 

I begin to wonder if we no longer purchase the latest smartphones to better capture our riveting lives, but, rather, to better stalk, comment on, like, share, retweet and scroll over the “lives” of others (that we are absolutely not jealous of). I wonder if the developers of Instagram ever thought their database would be so full of perfectlyframed and filtered images of coffee, feet, or bathroom mirrors…or how they would inadvertently prove that chairs are not just important for sitting on but also standing on, to get those otherwise-unattainable overhead shots. Ok, ok, some of them are really cool and I am guilty, but it is not true that undocumented coffee is coffee not actually had. Our friends will believe us if we just tell them…that is to say, if a conversation is had…which would imply a type of face-to-face interaction, one where we’re not staring at our phones liking said pictures of coffee.

We are dancing like jesters on an imaginary stage that only exists because we say it does. But why? In an attempt to become famous? Appear funny? Appear happy and put together? Where do the pressures come from? Why do we allow ourselves to be cornered by them? Why aren’t we confident enough, or believe in ourselves enough, to want trends following us instead of the other way around?

I dare you.

If you are feeling brave, add it up. Do you scroll the equivalent amount of a full-time job, part-time job, or maybe less? If you feel like you simply cannot pass up the opportunity to Facebook, Instagram, Snap or Tweet (Google+ anyone?) a picture of a flawlessly poured latte cream-feather…and you’re not sure if your eye is twitching because the caffeine or the thought of all those “likes” slipping through your iPhone-laden hands…maybe you should add it up. Take a breather. Don’t keep playing the fool. Break away from the pretentious cesspool of the world wide web. Get 1/3 of your life back!

My fear is this…that even if this magical exchange were possible, and we could get back all that extra time, we would still go crawling back to our virtual lives, enslaved to the wifi-enabled, LCD, mug-coasters in our hands, which cares as little about our time or well-being as Siri does about our love-life.

To those who say there are too many books to read in one lifetime, I say, there are also too many hours of Youtube footage alone to watch in one lifetime.

We make time for what is important to us.

2 thoughts on “Unplug

  1. Ooh…thought provoking and well said. I use my phone to escape from being in my head or from what is hard. It’s not a good “shelter in time of trouble” but it’s so quick and easy. I’m not jealous of others lives and I love seeing what people are up to, but at the bottom in my heart is that I don’t want to think about parts of life that are hard: sick husband, kids struggling…and my guilt for sowing poorly in the early years, chronic failure in various areas of my life. I will sink if I have too much time in my head so I listen to music, books, hop on the social sites. It’s a hard bondage to break.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting! I think you’ve opened up something. For the sake of not putting words in your mouth, why don’t you see it as a good shelter? It’s great you don’t find jealousy in it! I think you’re clearly demonstrating that it can be a useful tool. I too like keeping up with others but personally have to monitor my duration because I can begin longing for days passed.

      The internet is a fascinating place (gift?) and we can find much entertainment through it. I think, like you’re saying, we all have ways we numb our brains from reality momentarily. While I can see where this can lead to problems, I don’t think it is out-and-out wrong. I do see our online usage as a slippery slope, where moderation is key but also up to individual. It’s a fine line between bondage and helpful alleviation.


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