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By 10 July 2014 | Categories: feature articles

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Log off and have an actual conversation before you become a social media slave, writes Deep Fried Man

Last month, Facebook trended on Twitter. Which doesn’t seem right. It’s a bit like catching Ronald MacDonald buying a Whopper, or eating a mango on a Kulula flight. The reason that Facebook trended was that it was down. For 20 minutes. What does the average individual do when he or she cannot login to Facebook for 20 minutes? Put the kettle on and get a rusk? Do a quick meditation? Do some actual work?  No! It seems that there are two things that the average individual does when faced with 20 minutes of no Facebook: 1) Panic and 2) tweet about it.

The second step is just a bit lame, really. Facebook isn’t working and so we run onto Twitter to complain about it? What would happen if both were down at the same time? Would we resort to posting selfies showing how sad we are about it on Instagram? And if Instagram was down too? We would probably get so desperate for instant social media interaction that we’d all log onto LinkedIn for the first time in four years. And, if all else fails, there’s always Google+, which doesn’t have enough traffic to ever go down. 

The first step, on the other hand, is a bit more disturbing. If a social media platform goes down for less than the amount of time it takes to make a salad and we behave like the apocalypse is about to begin, then this is a sign to me that we are becoming too reliant on social media. We need to start reminding ourselves of how we remained in touch with what was going on before the internet: We spoke to people. 

That’s why I say it’s time to get out there and have the same social interactions you have daily on social media platforms with actual people, face to face. Show them pics of your children. Show them pictures of your lunch. Slag off celebrities. Complain about the state of the nation. Do whatever you want, just do it outside in the sunshine opposite another human being because you only live once. And it’s pretty liberating to write that without #yolo at the end.

Or, as my father puts it “You know what we did in my day when Facebook didn’t work? We lived actual lives. Facebook didn’t work throughout the 60s. Then there was the 70s and 80s and 90s, and Facebook was still down the entire time. And so we went out and accomplished things and had sex with each other and drank alcohol and ate at restaurants without ever feeling the need to tell the whole of the internet. And do you know what? It was awesome.” Ok, so my father didn’t actually say that at all, but if he knew what a good conclusion to this column it would make I bet he would have.

I’m not trying to deny anyone their social media fix. All I’m saying is make sure that you own a Facebook account, rather than Facebook owning you. Now if you’ll excuse me it’s time for me to go post that on Facebook. I think it’ll make a really great status.

Photo courtesy of GA Goodman
Article first appearead in TechSmart 130, July 2014

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