Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Digital Detox

At the beginning of January I was watching a psychologist on TV.  She was talking about New Year Resolutions and the usual choices people focus upon. Weight loss and more exercise being the most common, however she suggested there may be another one which would be worthy of consideration and that is reducing time spent on social media.

Now this is a subject which came up over Christmas with my family and friends and we discussed the need these days to over communicate.  We seem to have a need to share every aspect of our lives and you tend to wonder why. People are endlessly checking emails, texts, instagram, twitter, Facebook...and not using the more conventional face to face chats in person ... not FaceTime!

The psychologist came up with various reasons why people are so obsessed which include sharing, keeping in touch, showing off, vanity, self promotion,  to impress, narcissism, developing a following and maybe loneliness.

I am sure most of us can identify with one or more of these but do we recognise when this is getting out of hand?  It reminds me of the time in the 80s when I worked for a multinational company.   Email was introduced and at first staff were very reluctant to embrace this new form of communication. Slowly slowly individuals were trained in the use of and low and behold they then became converts and there was no stopping them. Email became a monster which often became a preferred substitute for talking face to face or using the phone.  It was argued that it was expedient and made good business sense. However for some who did not enjoy personal contact this started to become a problem as this became almost the only source of contact. The paranoid loved it because it provided a record.  I remember one person who used to print off every mail as "proof"!  Others wanted to proved they were so busy and in demand and would compete for the number of emails in their inbox and how exhausting it was responding. Poor things!

One of the most annoying actions though was setting up a delayed message so that it appeared you were working late at night or into the early hours.  It seemed to be the same old culprits looking to impress.

Eventually guidelines had to be issued to prevent  needless excess.

All this seems to be negative but there was a plus side - we were able to communicate even with different time zones and have a dialogue whenever individuals came back on line.  We could transfer documents easily.  We could also communicate with large numbers on a distribution list......however do you remember when instead of answering the sender some sent to all? ..and then you received many answers saying merely yes or no or something else which didn't enrich your knowledge...

I could go on about so many things which were introduced to aid communication but will limit this to one more from the "old days"...videoconferencing, which we used mainly with the States.  I was never sure how effective this was given the time delay, the different cultures and conventions....and humour - oh and also the loss of connection. Inevitably we had to have a balance of using this and face to face meetings flying backwards and forwards to iron out....miscommunications....

So getting back to the start of this regarding New Year Resolutions I decided that my use of Facebook, emails and twitter, particularly twitter was a little excessive and so I decided to cut back.  I had a whole week of not using any of these and at first I had withdrawal symptoms and then I felt liberated.  I had freed up time to do something more productive.  Gone was the need to see how many followers I had clocked up which I surmised was as bad as counting numbers in email inbox in days of yore. Since January I have been relatively disciplined and reduced my involvement, however twitter is still a weakness as it involves one of interests - politics.  I am about to have a "detox" to regain control! Wish me luck :)