Unplugging! / Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Photo credit: Crissy Jarvis

I had already begun a tech-related post about social media, (see below) and then found on my Firefox start-up page a notice about National Day of Unplugging

beginning this Friday at sundown. This, then, is the Public Service Announcement segment of the post.

According to one study:

75% of Americans spend 3 or more hours per day on their devices (smart phones, tablets, computers);

48% use the devices 5 or more hours; and

32% check in before getting out of bed in the morning.

I know myself well enough that I will probably not wean myself from my computer for an entire 24 hours, but will try to cut down during that period. (I don’t have a smart phone, and rarely use our tablet.)

Meanwhile, here’s the post I’d already started:  Should I stay or should I go?

A California friend recently posted one last item on her Facebook timeline, saying: “I’m going inactive on FB. A book can change me and THIS ONE DID… Picture the same posts: me baking, fostering senior dogs, meeting up with friends and reading, and watching Netflix, and volunteering, and going to Church. Contact me via email for a while.”

The book in question is Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts RIGHT NOW, by Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer. From the book’s dust cover:  “Lanier’s… reasons include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more ‘connected’ than ever, and to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads.” It’s not a huge book, just 144 smallish pages, and he skims over a lot of detail (and gives numbered references to innumerable online articles). I understood maybe 1/3 of what I was reading.

But he’s right about the Big Brother aspect to our current online society. I hate it when I go to, say, a Perkins restaurant (and pay by credit card), and see online the next day (for the first time) ads for Perkins’ Signature Burgers. It’s creepy – I feel like I’ve been spied upon. I’m sure you can all relate similar happenings.

Oxford’s definition of social media reads:  “Social media is computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. … Users engage with social media via computer, tablet or smartphone via web-based software or web application, often utilizing it for messaging.”

I got on Facebook years ago so I could see photos of far flung relatives, especially the little kids who are growing up so fast. Lately I find myself getting on sporadically, but once I’m on I seem to be addicted for days. I have also been addicted at times to msn.com’s news feed (which is full of junk), and of course I find myself checking emails – and this blog – multiple times on days when I’m home. And I’m starting to play Spider Solitaire more often… Who knows what I’d do if I had a smart phone!

Are you comfortable with your level of involvement on social media?

If not, what would you like to change?

24 thoughts on “Unplugging! / Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

      1. Little pot calling the kettle black action, huh? I’m actually fairly comfortable with my level of online use. Quite a bit during work of course that I don’t have any choice about. I check email, I check the blog, I play a game or two on my phone and I only look at Facebook once every two weeks or so!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Oh, I know I’m on mine too much. I could make up some words to justify it. I really do enjoy having the smart phone and being able to look up things anytime a questions arises. And being able to use it for work in so many ways; as a remote to the light boards is HUGE!
    I play solitaire every night, but just the deal of the day. So that’s mental stimulation to me.
    There’s just so much out there to learn about!

    (And then yeah, there’s Facebook too…. working on that.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I disagree. The days I am not “plugged in” it gives me some perspective on how I use my time, and sometimes I need a good jolt of perspective. My particular time waster is spider solitaire. I cut way back on that and I am the better for it. That said, I am an advocate for the middle ground on most issues and this is one of them. Some use of the computer is invaluable. Too much or the “time-wasting” kind is also utterly pointless.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. So it’s the young people that need “fixing”? And unplugging for a day will do it? Presumably the analog world will come rushing in and they’ll see what they’ve been missing.


      2. You could be offline and wasting your time on Sudoku. It’s not where you spend your time but how you spend it and whether you do it cognitively.

        There seems to be a tendency to conflate “online” with social media and it’s important to distinguish between the two. Looking at the statistics quoted in the post, if 75% or even 48% of the population were spending more than 3 hours a day on Facebook, that would be concerning. But nowhere, at least in the excerpt above does it say that. Does that 3 to 5 hours include time at work or school? Does it include time listening to podcasts or audiobooks or streaming a television show? Does it include online reading of the news or a magazine article or pursuing some special interest? You have to ask what that time spent online replaces. Even if the activity online is essentially mindless, is it worse than watching mindless TV shows if that’s what it replaces? The issue really goes to the inclination of the individual, not where he or she gets the stimulus.

        If we’re talking about Facebook, I certainly agree that its problematic. It was created to mine personal data with social connectivity as the bait and with the help of its willing participants. Facebook sells that data to any entity seeking to manipulate people, to sell them things or to influence their opinions. Personally, I try to elude data mining wherever I can. I don’t belong to Facebook or any social media (other than the Trail). I don’t do “surveys” and I don’t sign up for customer loyalty cards.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t understand your point. Mine was that I don’t think electronics are the problem and that unplugging is not the solution.

          It’s not about how I happen to use the internet.


  2. Rise and Log on, Baboons,

    I really enjoy this blog and the relationships which have developed from it. While I miss Edith terribly, I am so grateful that this venue led me to a friendship I never would have experienced otherwise. The same goes for the other participants here.

    I do not do much on other forms of social media. I heard when FB first came on the scene that some therapists were having difficulty with being stalked by clients and former clients. That happened to me, along with requests I could not honor for friendship, etc. And then my cousins and their political and religious views and the pressure to see things their way made it so easy to de-activate my account and never be tempted to go on again. I never had fit in that family very well anyway. That just iced it. I do a bit of Twitter, but not under my name.

    The rest of my opinions about this are in my response to Bill above. And then there is Telehealth technology which makes it possible for me to maintain my small practice while away for 3 months. What a benefit to my life that is! My clients tell me they are just grateful they don’t have to change therapists and that it works for them.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My circumstances are unusual. I live in a large apartment building, rarely stepping outside. I no longer drive. I would never consider cutting back or cutting off my connection to people, products and entertainment that are only available to me via my computer.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m wondering who it is that has declared this the National Day of Unplugging? Perhaps the same person or organization that declared a few days ago the Drink Wine with Your Cat Day? I confess, I pay little or no attention to such days.

    Over all I’d say I’m pretty comfortable with the amount of time I spend online. I know for a fact that I’m a lot better informed about what’s going on in the world through the internet than I ever was trying to keep up with it all through various newspapers and magazines. Besides, I’m in regular contact with people that I don’t see or talk with that often, I consider that a plus.

    Most evenings I solve a Sudoku online. I don’t consider that a waste of time, it gives my brain a good workout. I don’t feel a need to justify how I spend my time to anyone, online or off. If I enjoy doing something, even if it seems like a waste of time to someone else, why should I feel bad about that? I’ve spent more than plenty of my life trying to live up to other people’s expectations. I’m sorry if that disappoints anyone, but so be it, it’s just not that important to me what most people think.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. The problematic parts of all this, for me, are:
    – how easily some of us become addicted to one or more aspects of social media, whether it’s Facebook, constantly checking for emails/texts,
    – how many people are totally unaware of the darker intents to manipulate people, information…
    – how often screen time is replacing face-to-face interactions – the reason I talk about the younger generations is that for some of them, this is all they’ve ever known.


  6. I’m not changing anything anytime soon. I don’t really engage on Facebook that often, and most of my friends know that and don’t have any expectation that I’m going to know what’s going on in that arena.

    Not being hyper-connected means you don’t feel the need to disconnect, so I’m ignoring National Day of Unplugging. I might look into Drink Wine With Your Cat Day, though, as long as no cats are harmed in the observance.

    Liked by 2 people

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