The clock approached midnight on New Year’s Eve in 2014. I hit deactivate. I did it, and boy did it feel good. I’d jumped off a social media carousel that quite frankly, was making me nauseous. One less thing to waste time and energy on. And to confess, it was more like 4pm on December 29th.
I’d had an absolute newsfeed full. Advertisements swelled the right hand side of my over-burdened screen, suspiciously touting accommodation I’d already booked and University courses I had already completed. The left-hand column? A myriad of likes, interests, music, friends, games, apps, lists, groups, messages, events & places. Guess what? It was stuff I already knew (i.e my own taste in music), people I already connected with outside, or things that were UTTERLY irrelevant.
Front and centre, supposedly feel-good videos that were immediately slammed by skeptics in the first two or three comments below it, claiming the homeless man giving away $50 was just a hoax or PR stunt. Next came the mind-numbing positive graphics.
“What’s wrong with that Mike?”
Nothing, until they were regularly posted by people who did their best to do the complete opposite of said positive message. That’s followed by seeing ten photos of the same child with spaghetti sauce dripping around his mouth. Last but not least, the “you’ll never guess what happened to me today……” post, desperately seeking attention, and I was done.
Why on earth did I spend so many countless hours scrolling through that newsfeed? I rarely posted my own tidbits of useless information. Habit I guess. It had been a good 3-4 years that I frequently used it. I posted photos, “checked-in”, and shared news articles. There was always something that prevented me from pulling the plug.
“How else can I contact my friends overseas?”
“I like to share photos with people.”
“Hmmm.. but some pages are useful.”
“That person’s annoying me, so I’ll hide them. If I unfriend them, it’ll cause tension at work.”
In order to hurtle my way into 2015, I’m venturing back to the past. To an era when letters were given time and space to develop. A thought was pondered, and then scribed. A letter patiently snailed through many hands of the postal system, zig-zagged through numerous cities, before being jammed into the lucky recipient’s letterbox, dog-eared, and with a lick of dirt smeared on one side. But it had travelled. The not-so-clean texture of the envelope proved it. And for whatever reason, this increased the value of those precious thought-out words housed inside.
Enough with the tweets and status updates, more often than not, about nothing.
Enough with the useless abbreviations and overdone emoticons.
I’m going back folks. To a point. As much as I’d love to scribe letters to my friends and family, I’m taking a tech-savvy route, somewhere in the middle, but with the core principle still at the forefront. This is the year where I take more time to communicate with people. I want to contact people less often, but with more substance. One well-written email is nicer than five generic text messages.
Photographs? You haven’t been spared this diatribe. No longer will I fill a Facebook feed with random photos every third day while Sel and I jet-set around the world. Like an old-fashioned slide night, the family can gather around and go through carefully selected photos – less photos, but photos that have some interest and meaning. Not to bore, but to be able to talk about what was happening behind the photo, and any fun anecdotes that attached themselves to those moments in time.
The world is speeding up too quickly and it’s time to slow it back down, one person at a time. Communication has changed from a cannon to a machine-gun. The more we push and jam half-completed sentences and flash in the pan messages down people’s throats, the less we actually communicate.
So take a deep breath, slow down, and the next time you’re about to fire off a quick message or tweet to some friends, ask yourself why you aren’t sitting down to a coffee with them instead.