Hands up! Cell phones off! Unplug!
This Friday will mark the 4th annual National Day of Unplugging, a holiday created as an intervention for all the Instagram-obsessed, crazy Twitterers like yourself. Don’t insult me with the “I can quit anytime I want” speech — I’ve heard it a million times from people just like you. It’s when you find yourself hiding under your covers scrolling through Pinterest’s DIY pictures at 3 a.m. that you will realize that you have a problem.
In Nielsen’s 2012 study “State of Social Media: The Social Media Report,” researchers found that in the United States users spend up to 121 billion minutes a month browsing their favorite sites, including the usual suspects of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blogs. We’re all guilty of getting lost within the labyrinth created by social media, as one Facebook message leads to a YouTube video leads to a Tumblr post and back. We spend hours building relationships with our phone and computers while we neglect the people and activities right in front of us. You may scoff at this because you’re not one of “those people,” but take an honest moment and think, how much time are you losing to the digital world?
I am just as guilty of this as everyone else, and even more so since my college roommate showed me the majesty of Pinterest. Nielsen’s study says that last year, Pinterest broke out from the social media starting gate as people spent over 1,250,000,000 minutes browsing through its galleries. And as to where we are taking the time to browse online? Nearly 32 percent of people ages 18-24 polled said that they interact with their social media in the bathroom while 52 percent ages 25-34 admitting to spending the majority of their time online while at work. No longer does one just pee with the solitude of their own thoughts but one now also takes multitasking to the extreme by responding to emails and checking friends’ latest Instagram, all with the pants down. Not pretty, America, not pretty.
I don’t want to discount the great things that social media has done in our lives. It has become a way for us to connect to future employers and create relationships in our area. To share photos and stories with friends across the country. But just like all of life’s great addictions — margaritas, cupcakes, cat sweaters — you have to find a way to control its power before you fall down the rabbit hole.
So what better day to start your social media detox than tomorrow for National Day of Unplugging. Turn off your phones and step away from your computer from sunrise to sunset, and spend the day frolicking with friends and family. Who knows, you might even like it?