This post first appeared as an article in the June issue of LBD Group's GLOSS Magazine.
OK, Soapbox time...
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think, that we’ve all seemingly gravitated towards this collective self-loathing over our obsession with social media to the point that we are now posting admonishing or other finger-pointing-type memes about the pitfalls of said obsession on our social media platforms?
Seriously, we’re like moths to a flame with our smart phones, tablets, laptops or whatever. If it’s there we have to look at it, even if what we’re looking at is utter drivel, which it mostly is. I saw one today – yes, I know – that said ‘We’re swamped by information yet devoid of wisdom’. How true! I mean, how many times can you watch that clip of an athlete falling down hard on a race, getting up and continuing to run, with the video clip culminating in treacle about her inspiration and heroism?
I don’t know how many times as schoolboys my friends and I hit to dirt hard during sporting events, lost bark, bled, got concussed, got up and got on with it. No one filmed it. It wasn’t inspirational. It wasn’t heroic. It was just life. You might have been lucky enough for one of the parents to call out from the sidelines, ‘Up you get mate.’ And, off you’d go again. Do we really need to see that over and over? No, we don’t.
The thing that I find most ironic at the moment is that we all talk about being on our iPhones too much – neglecting our friends, our kids, dare I say it, our partners – but, still we don’t change our behaviour. Yet, the moment someone shares that online movie ‘Look Up’ that’s currently doing the rounds, or Julian Lennon posts a picture of iPhones stacked on a restaurant table with the message ‘First one to check their phone pays the bill’, we can’t LIKE it quick enough. What the hell is wrong with us?
I think we’ve simply become obsessed with distraction. We have to be doing something, no matter how mind-numbingly pointless, all the time, every second of the day until we finally escape the noise and sleep. My point here is be distracted by the important stuff. While you’re face is locked on that 5x7 screen, the world, your life, is going on around you. By all means, use it to communicate, but don’t let it rule your behaviour. If you’re out for dinner with loved ones or friends and the phone rings, leave it. If it’s important enough they’ll call back. Seriously, if you’re in mid-conversation and then someone turns up out of the blue and says, ‘Oh, why don’t you just ignore them and come and sit at our table?’ would you? And if you did, would you then have the temerity to just insert yourself back into the original conversation you’d just discarded in favour of one apparently far more interesting? Well, that’s what you do every time you allow the phone to pull you away from those you’re with.
Try to set yourself some controls or personal triggers that only you know that will help to moderate your desperate obsession with your device of choice. If you’re with your kids and they want you, put it down. If you’re at the table – coffee, dinner, whatever – put it away. If you’re talking to someone, don’t keep checking it. All that says is, ‘There may be someone far more interesting than you calling me right now’ – leave it! They can call back or you can call them back. And, seriously, if you’re on the train home or otherwise on your own and you want to do something useful with it, don’t surf Facebook, or kill your brain cells playing those stupid games, read a book or catch up on world events, or actually search for things that are of interest to you personally, don’t be force fed the stuff that is currently ‘trending’!
Who cares about Kimye’s wedding? I sure as hell don’t!
Chris is a contributing editor of GLOSS Magazine.