This morning I woke up to a slightly snowy Virginia and a complete, complex-wide power outage. We’re talking no power, no heat, no hot water and (GASP!)…NO INTERNET. My first concern was for all of the food I have stored in my freezer and just how long I had before I had to go out and buy an insane amount of ice to keep it from thawing. But my immediate second thought was: “What am I suppose to do without Facebook?” A little scary, really, but this was the exact thought process I went through.
This silly little power outage really got me thinking about just how connected we as a society are; to one another essentially, but also to these internet applications themselves. How many times a day do we click that little Facebook icon on our smartphones? And are we really staying connected to our loved ones if we opt to write on their wall or tweet to them instead of picking up the phone and giving them a call? Is there such thing as being too connected via the Internet and social media applications? And is it having an effect on the real, personal connections in our lives?
I will take the plunge and admit it: I am a total social media addict and it’s a problem. My family will be the first to tell you that I am never without cell phone in hand. I am constantly checking my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts just to see what everyone is up to. My favorite people, companies, television shows and celebrities – I have access to them all. It really is quite amazing the doors that social media has opened. But we are a society addicted and I can’t help but wonder – are we ever able to truly disconnect?
Obviously, as someone in the field of tech marketing and public relations, it is important for me to stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry and around the world, and social media helps to make that possible. But even when I get home from a day of being logged in for work, I can’t seem to turn it all off in my own personal life. And I am confident that I am not the only one with this problem. I think it is very important for all of us to keep a few things about social media in perspective.
- Social media has its obvious benefits but we owe it to ourselves to break away from it every now and then. Maybe give yourself a couple hours each night to completely log off: no cell phone, no computer, nothing! Or partake in “No Cellphone Sunday,” a new trend that seems to be springing up in households across the country. Seem crazy? Well, it may be just what you need to clear your mind and disconnect from the rest of the world for a bit.
- Don’t forget the less technological, simple pleasures in life. Go for a walk. Read a book. Cook a 4-course meal. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, don’t forget to do those things! And the key to this is – do them for yourself! You don’t always need to tweet about it and let the world know what you’re up to. Just do it for you.
- Most importantly (in my opinion) – don’t mistake online connectedness for real relationships. A message on your mom’s Facebook wall is not the same as an hour-long phone conversation. Don’t forgo these real bonding experiences just because social media makes it a little easier. You will get much more satisfaction out of meeting your high school friend for lunch than you ever will by tagging them in the #throwbackthursday post and writing about how much you miss them. These relationships are important and can’t be replaced by a smartphone!
Now, I’m off to get ice (and some wool socks). Brrr….