In the July/August 2013 issue of Fast Company, social media influencer and author Baratunde Thurston wrote about his twenty-five day digital hiatus from email and social media. As a matter of fact, Twitter activity around the hashtag #Unplug is often a trending topic and many users are actually declaring that they too will #unplug from social media.
There is no doubt that the use of technology has increased over the past several years. I must admit, Twitter and Gmail monopolize most of my time on the Internet; therefore, it was no surprise when I stumbled upon one article that shared some of the detailed statistics for how people use the “Top Social Media, Apps & Services.” And while I had a pretty good idea of how popular social media had become over the years, the use of some of the following social media sites surprised me – especially My Space.
- Evernote: 60 million users
- Facebook: 1.15 billion users
- Foursquare: 33 million users
- Gmail: 425 million users
- Instagram: 130 million users
- LinkedIn: 238 milion users
- MySpace: 32.6 million users
- Pinterest: 70 million users
- Twitter: 500 million users (200 million active)
With statistics such as these, it is safe to say that people spend a large part of their day on the Internet. There is a popular saying; “moderation in all things,” which simply implies that people should not do or have too much of anything. I ask the question – can people have too much of social media? It’s easy to get caught up in social media, as well as useful apps and services that seem to make our lives easier? Sites such as Skype and MeetUp allow us to connect with others; iTunes, Pandora and Spotify bring us all of the latest music. And then of course there are the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook that keep us up-to-date on all that is going on around the world almost every minute of the day. As much as I consider myself a “geekess,” I believe it is important that we “unplug” from social media a few hours a day including weekends.
Sometimes people justify the excessive use of social media with the argument that it keeps them connected with family and friends and also allows us the opportunity to meet new people. While that may be true, we can actually do this offline. It is good to take a break from technology to rejuvenate, refresh and relax our mind. Can you recall the feeling you have when you get home from a long work-day and finally get the chance to sit and unwind? We can actually experience that same feeling of relaxation when we “unplug” from the Internet and detox from all of the techology we encountered throughout the day. Below are some suggestions on how to “unplug.”
- In the morning before work or school, use that time to reflect on the day's tasks
- During lunch break, instead of grabbing our cell phone to check Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, use that hour to rejuvenate and relax our mind. This will help us feel refreshed and recharged
- During morning or evening commute to and from work, leave our mobile device in the bag. Enjoy the surroundings and do some sightseeing as we walk to our destination
- Don’t check mail or text messages while having dinner with family and friends. Give them all of our attention; the texts and email will be there when we're done.
- Unplug on the weekends (at least one day). Schedule time for yourself to do an activity that brings you joy.
- Encourage your kids to do the same.
Fast Company’s Unplug edition gives a nine-point digital detox checklist that you also might find useful. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves staring at our computer screens and mobile devices morning, noon and night with no separation from work or play. Well, it’s time for me to unplug for a few hours.