It’s said that the average person picks up their phone well over 100 times per day (the actual figure varies depending on the source, but the general consensus is that it’s a lot), and to be honest, that is – or was – me.
Facebook and twitter are – or were – two of the main culprits, and as such I decided to go cold turkey and see how the absence of social networking affected my boring old existence – with surprising results.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I am – or was – quite bad for picking up my phone and mindlessly pawing through Facebook, twitter, email, Mobot, and Scramble With Friends.
I will – or would – quite often repeat that process ad nauseam while watching TV, and I’d frequently find myself having to rewind a film or TV show having missed some key dialogue or plot twist or whatever.
Worse still, I would often sit down and think: ‘Sweet, three hours till the old ball and chain gets home from work. Let’s do something constructive.’ Inevitably I’d spend 30 minutes or so looking at absolutely nothing on my phone, and demand: ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’
As I recall, I don’t think there was one singular event that led me to delete the Facebook and twitter apps, more so the realisation that I’d wasted countless hours reading utterly inane BS.
Really, what does anyone have to say on social networking? Is it really that interesting? No. No, it is not. How many times have you seen someone tweet simply: “Bored”? Me too. Bored with the whole thing.
A recent habit was to intermittently (every few days, say) scroll back through 3-4 hours of twitter in a bid to convince myself that it really wasn’t worth reading, and inevitably I’d feel thoroughly convinced. Thoroughly. Didn’t matter if the tweets were from friends, or vague cyber-acquaintances, or celebrity types, it was almost invariably inconsequential nonsense.
The most offensive people, for my money, are those who provide a constant narrative, a generational thing that – being a wee bit older (shut it) – I simply do not understand. “On my way to work. This bus stinks.” “In work. It’s so cold!” “Tuna rolls for lunch.” “Can’t wait to finish work!”
You know what? There was a time not so long ago when social networking didn’t exist; pre-twitter, pre-Facebook, pre-Myspace, heck – pre-Bebo! And the world turned just fine without it.
I realise I’m coming across like a moany old man here, and that’s not my intention. There’s absolutely no obligation for me to peruse twitter Timelines or Facebook News Feeds, and more fool me if I’m going to waste my life doing it –and waste even more time complaining about it.
Likewise, I know I’ve posted more than my fair share of crud on ye olde social networks.
In short: goodbye Facebook and twitter apps.
Amusingly, in the ensuing days, I subconsciously found myself swiping along to where my Facebook and twitter apps used to sit (in a Social Networking folder), and seeing – instead – a gap.
I eventually filled said gap with the Kindle app, the subtle implication being: “MAYBE YOU SHOULD READ A BOOK.”
To my credit, I managed several days without Facebook and twitter, and grew to enjoy the freedom. I even uttered those smarmy, patronising words: “Yeah, I don’t really use social networking anymore.” Gawd, I hate myself.
Meanwhile, Facebook stepped up its game, sending emails every few days telling me I had unchecked photo tags, notifications and messages. Er, ok, more like message singular. But that was the real killer: WHO SENT THAT MESSAGE?
I finally snapped on a particularly lazy Sunday, after almost a week of social networking sobriety, and logged into Facebook to discover that a mate had asked what I was up to over the Bank Holiday weekend. He then followed up asking, jokingly, why I was ignoring him.
At that point, I posted a status thingy saying that I wasn’t really using Facebook, which was admittedly ironic, the message being conveyed via… Facebook. And all the more ironic when I subsequently found myself in a conversation with someone else who was trying to go cold turkey. On Facebook. Sigh.
But anyway, yeah, cue numerous ‘Likes’. Clearly I had a lot of support. From Facebook users. Go me!
Anyway, to cut a long story short (something my dad often says when he’s already been rambling for three hours; like father, like son), a similar thing happened a few days later when Facebook informed me I had two new messages. AND A FRIEND REQUEST. THE EXCITEMENT.
I figured it was ok to bend the rules (again) for the sake of said thingies, and this is where I realised: ‘Ok, Facebook isn’t all that bad.’
See, someone had asked for recommendations of places to go in New Orleans, and I felt slightly guilty that – three days later – I hadn’t read her message, and that she’d actually already left. Oops.
As it turns out, she clearly has some sort of internet access abroad, as my recommendations have been received, but yeah, clearly Facebook has its uses (to clarify: this is a girl I went to school with, and we have no other method of communication other than Facebook).
The final straw came last night when someone told me that a mutual friend (he works with her; I used to work with her) had gone through a house-buying process that I’m currently investigating, and – again – the only method of communicating with her was via Facebook.
As such, I’ve bloody well installed the Facebook and twitter apps again (the aforementioned rule-breaking visits were sneakily conducted via Chrome). But don’t expect me to read your stoopid tweets and status updates.
Moral of the surprisingly long story? All things in moderation. And PUT DOWN THE PHONE.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just noticed a little ‘1’ badge on my Facebook app. Must go see what’s going on…