The more social media has brought us together the more we are actually apart.Mike Buechel
That’s right – I’m putting myself down as the one to quote that. This has been talked about for a while now by a lot of people, but from what I can see almost everyone isn’t willing to take the leap and say it’s a fact. All the pages I’ve seen have stated it as a question wondering if it’s true or not… I’m willing to go on record and say it’s a fact. Let me explain the premise from my point of view.
I would never call myself the most staunch Catholic. I can say I’m a firm believer in the religion and the value it has in life, but I may bend the rules from time to time – not the big ones at least. The time of reflection Lent offers is something I haven’t fully embraced for a long time, but for some reason I had a strong feeling it was important to me this year. The act of giving something up for Lent never really meant a lot to me growing up. I’d do it, but I never really got the point.
The kids were talking about things they were giving up and it hit me that to them it was a big deal, and it was very personal to them. So I was trying to think what would matter to me. I’m a pretty simple guy. I don’t have a lot of things that would be hard to give up. So the thought came to me about giving up Facebook. Someone else at work had given it up in the past and it felt like a good fit. I was definitely plugged into my phone and it would be a challenge, but how bad could it be?
So Ash Wednesday came and Facebook went away. At first I was surprised how much I caught myself checking the phone in general. It was just habit to pick up the phone for what appeared to be no real reason at all. As time went on, I found it really wasn’t that hard. I was honestly a little surprised how easy it was. It was actually a little liberating. As time continued on, I found myself starting to nose around some of the other social apps more than I had in the past. That started to bother me. I have a pretty strong line to not look at Linkedin on the weekends to decompress. I started scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest more – not nearly the amount of time I put into mindlessly looking at Facebook. As I started to realize I was replacing one media type for another, even though it was not as much, I decided it was not ok. I made the conscious effort whenever waiting in line or doing something like sitting at the airport for a flight, I would not use any social media apps unless I had a need specifically for work. In that time I learned a lot.
One thing i did was read more books during this time. It was fun – I had a number of books I purchased years ago on sale I hadn’t gotten around to reading. There were a couple of Stephen King books. One was Cujo. It was a very good read but one thing I found fun with the older King books was how they really are time-period specific. Would Tad have died in the story had it happened now? Would there be a signal at “The Outlook” in The Shining so they could just call before the hotel consumed Jack? Would a cell phone have saved the day? Anyways, back to the original point.
I’ve watched and read a lot of information about the growing issues people have with phone addiction. When you are off social media you truely start to see how messed up we all are because of our phones. I’m not sure if it’s like an alcoholic going to a bar on a Saturday night and seeing drunk people falling over and thinking, “my god, was that what I looked like?” I was enlightened to visuals I hadn’t noticed before…. mostly because I too had my face in my phone. I’m not sure if others who never go on social media notice it as much or if someone in recovery sees it in a different light.
The time off my phone allowed me watch and listen to the world around me, and what I saw was sad. I saw indifference. I saw rude. I saw separation. I saw a world where people are more likely to walk into somebody than to smile at somebody. I saw people sitting and ignoring a waitresses or bartenders who were trying to give the customer a memorable experience… my guess is when the patron got up and left and they didn’t even notice if they were served by a man or a woman.
I watch my family and I see the same to some degree. Watching TV we’re all in our phones. Friends come over and it’s the same thing. So while we may be connected to the larger world, we are missing out on the great things happening every day.
I know what you are thinking – just take the phones away. I really don’t feel it’s that easy though. To do that will ostrisis them because it is the reality of all tweens and teens right now (much less us adults). There is value in the world of social media. It has helped Buechel Stone show the world all the great things we offer and the company culture. It’s given small businesses a voice in the world they never had 15 years ago. At some point I believe we’ll come to the best solution, but in the meantime for myself I see a difference. I am actually seeing the world again, and the faceless masses. Try it for yourself for a bit – there’s a lot of great things you’re all missing :)!