Whenever I visit family and friends in the UK, I like to do a digital detox. No internet, no social media, no emails. Bliss.
I’ve found it so beneficial that I often have a mini detox most weekends too.
My detoxes always make me realise that our digital devices can be a tad too intrusive in our lives. Sure, they can help us reach out to a massive amount of people and open up worlds of information, but they also eat into a lot of time as well. Hours can be lost on Facebook or Twitter if we’re not careful.
I know that social media helps us to connect with people, but it can also severely affect our day-to-day connection with the people closest to us.
Looking at our phones instead of talking to each other
How often have you seen people sitting at a restaurant table together or in a bar completely focused on checking their phones rather than talking to one another? How many couples feel ignored because their partners are engrossed in something on their iPad or laptop? How many of your friends on Facebook are actual friends? Probably less than half? Maybe not even that many?
Isn’t it all a bit, well, crazy?
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the internet. I love being able to easily keep in touch with my friends in other countries. I love how it helps me do my job. It offers a wealth of knowledge and information. But most technology has a down side and in the case of social media, there’s a dark side too.
Proven connection between social media use and depression
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have found a clear link between the heavy use of social media and depression. It seems that social media can heighten feelings of envy, inadequacy and social isolation. And I’d add that it can also heighten feelings of suspicion.
How many relationships have crashed and burned because of misunderstandings, hearsay, gossip and suspicions over Facebook posts or photos? How many people have believed that their friends’ and acquaintances’ relationships are “perfect” compared to their own and felt dissatisfied? How many have strayed from steady relationships because of people they’ve first connected with on social media?
It seems social media isn’t so good for our relationships.
This video by Steven Bartlett says it all:
Steven focuses on the Millennials, but as a member of Generation X, I think this dark side can touch anyone who uses social media too much. I believe it can:
- Steal quality time from your in-the-flesh relationships – time you can never get back
- Create unrealistic expectations of what a relationship involves
- Prompt people to search for the “ideal” partner and relationship rather than work on small problems in their current, good (but not “perfect”) relationship
- Show illusions of “perfect” lives and relationships
- Cause us to compare ourselves to others and judge ourselves and others too harshly
- Undermine our confidence and self-love due to making comparisons
- Create a lack of genuine contact in our off-line connections
- Encourage gossip and malicious comments – bringing out our worst sides.
That’s not to say social media should never be used. It’s here to stay, there’s no denying that. But let’s be aware of why we use it and how often.
It should never be a substitute for our real-life relationships or be used to bolster our sense of worth. It shouldn’t take up too much of our daily life.
There is no such thing as the perfect relationship
Neither should we let it blind us with illusions of perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist, no matter how much someone styles and Photoshops their couple and family pictures. Don’t be fooled! Every relationship has its ups and downs, good times and bad. That’s how it’s meant to be.
And I stand by regular digital detoxes. They are the way to go, not just to save our relationships, but also our sanity.
Give it a go. Have a digital detox at the weekend and see how you feel.