Ouch! Pinching the fleshy bit of skin on my inner arm I realise that, indeed, yes, I do still exist. My world hasn’t imploded and I haven’t fallen off the edge of the world. Yes, that’s despite the fact that I’ve been without email, texts and social media for the last few weeks.
There have been times when I have debated whether I would be completely invisible if I wasn’t on social media. While I was away on holiday I decided to try out a self imposed drought without electronic devices to see if a) I’d miss any of it and b) if I’d be missed. How difficult would it be to give it all up? There would be no roaming the web for news feeds, no Twitter updates, no Facebook or blog posts and not even an email or text message. Easy!
Yeah, right, except like a smoker giving up cigarettes I suddenly found myself surrounded by people at every turn with their devices permanently fixed to their hands. Call me naïve but I had no idea just how dependent we all are on technology and the world wide web. Kids sat in dark corners furtively flipping through texts, updating their Facebook status and streaming music and films. In restaurants teens took pictures with their phones of everything from their food, friends, family, themselves; anything but actually eat or talk to each other. In bars, meanwhile, I lost count of the number of times I saw big groups of people sitting around tables barely talking to each other as they each focused on their smart phones. I have noticed this before but not to this extent.
What most amazed me was the thought that so many had travelled half way around the world only to sit in hotel lobbies and dark bars clutching their electronic devices while outside the sun was shining and temperatures soaring. OK I have to admit that at home I’ve often got my phone in hand but on holiday it really wasn’t so hard to give up. Two weeks into my ‘experiment’ without my daily online fix I did find myself missing the news feeds – short, snappy TV headlines just don’t hit the mark – but actually I really haven’t missed social media that much. In fact, to be honest, it was quite a relief not to have that pressure of having to ‘keep up’ with the Jones’s for a short while.
When I reached the end of my experiment this week I went back online to discover a whole tonne of emails, along with reminders, spam and a zillion notifications and alerts from Facebook letting me know all that I’d missed while I’d been gone! So it was all there waiting for my return. Nothing lost then, eh?