Could you live without social media?

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 10:47 16/08/2014

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It's only Tuesday afternoon and I am already mentally preparing myself. On Sunday, I plan to "unplug" myself from social media.

It's going to be traumatic.

My boyfriend says I'm pathetic.

He's right, of course. But in my defence, he is one of the few 20-somethings out there not plugged in to social media of some form. He doesn't understand this addiction, not really.

I've had Facebook since high school. Back then, everyone had it. It was the cool new thing, and no-one went around saying they only used it to keep in touch with friends overseas.

We loved it, and we weren't ashamed.

But, all good things must eventually face judgment and ridicule and be deemed uncool by the next generation.

These days, social media isn't as cool as it once was.

I blame the hipsters.

In the United States, people are actively taking breaks from technology - be it social media, email, cellphones, television or the internet. Some take a break for only a few hours, others can go whole weekends without any technology whatsoever.

The break is known by many names: digital detox, going unplugged, taking a tech fast, a digital sabbatical, a high-speed holiday . . . the list goes on.

Whatever you call it and whatever you choose to give up, it's all about slowing down.

Remember all those photos you put on Instagram of your holiday last year? Put the phone down.

Where it was once important to be "plugged in" 24-7, now it's just as important not to be.

Social media expert and University of Canterbury lecturer Ekant Veer has been on to the tech-fast for years. He was doing it before it was cool.

"Technology has made us all extremely connected," he says. "But, it has also made us feel like we lack the freedom we once had.

"It's a lot to do with the tedium of constantly being connected."

What was originally a blessing has eventually become a bit of a curse. Granted, the problem is not as severe in New Zealand as it is in the United States, but there's little doubt Kiwis will eventually lose their love of plugging in.

When I started my 48 hours without social media I first struggled to actually turn it off. I eventually deleted my Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone in frustration.

Over the next two days, the hardest thing was resisting the compulsion to check my phone, post a status update or put my thoughts into 160 characters or less. Even though I know there won't be any notifications, I still check.

A work colleague recently took a week off Twitter and it took at least 48 hours for her to wean herself off thinking in Tweets. She had to convince her boyfriend to keep her cat's Twitter feed active while she detoxed from her social media overload.

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Some people have quit social media entirely, preferring to call, email or text friends.

A Christchurch engineer, who did not want to be named, said people were openly aggressive when he mentioned he didn't have Facebook or Twitter.

"Basically, they just can't understand it. People get really upset," he said.

The reactions have prompted him to keep his tech-free status to himself.

Veer says teenagers these days are developing a need for a "clean phone" - no notification symbols on their screen. Even if the notification itself is boring, they check and clear it.

Perhaps the same could once be said for clearing the blinking voicemail light on the home answerphone.

Whether you're spending all your time checking Twitter or you're a slave to your Facebook/Instagram/ Snapchat feed, a short break could do wonders.

When was the last time you saw a sunrise without an Instagram filter?

- The Press

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