The anti-social media experiment.

The anti-social media experiment.

Sep 20, 2011 | Written by Stephen Lay

Social Media is fast becoming one of our most dependent communication tools.  The emergence of smartphones is allowing us to be constantly connected to our friends, families, celebrities, political figures and the guy around the corner that owns the milk bar.  

It is also allowing brands, large and small, to engage with their customers, enabling them to be able to get insights that was once impossible. Being able to check-in to places, "like" brands, engage in open dialogues, is allowing marketers to understand consumers better than ever.

However, being constantly connected may be great for engagement, but is it making us more anti-social in the real world?

A few weeks ago, my friends and I encountered an issue that has been brewing for some time.  Every time we go to a restaurant it ends up being like this:

The moment we sit down, it's phones out, check-in, update status, comment, likes, upload photos, the list goes on.  Banning phones from the table didn't work, as the urge to visit facebook was too strong.  

So we decided to on a challenge, an group experiment.  The 7-day Social Media Ban.

The rules were simple.  No social media for 7 days.  If you made it through the week then you get 'kudos'.

The group of 10 got to midnight to use facebook as much as humanly possible. Many took the opportunity to say goodbye, one decided to start a poll; "How long can you abstain from using facebook?".  

The result? 

8 of the 10 made it to the very end. One failed to last a single minute, and the other failed with a little less than 24 hours to go.  The moment the ban was lifted, only a few jumped straight back on to say hello to the world. 

In the end, this post sums it all up.

"I am back on Facebook!  

Here is what I found: I realised how much time I waste on this thing and that I don't really need to know what my neighbours cousins are doing next winter.  I have realised that I don't need to tell the world that I am feeling hungry.  In this little time I've learnt to enjoy a dinner with people at the dinner, I have been forced to enjoy my surroundings when I am waiting for the train, I have been forced to be more observant of the world around me and enjoy the beauty of the real world.  In a way I think I have been hiding behind facebook.    

So what does this all mean?  Well I am now a lot more conscious about how facebook can take over reality.  I will make an effort to not use my phone when I am talking to people, especially during meal times.  Admittedly, I think I was becoming very addicted to facebook.  I used it on the train even when I was in conversation with people, I obviously used it when I was at dinner with other people.  I am going to try to enter back into the world of real people, real conversations, real smells, real touch and real lolz.  

Thanks to Linh, I received my first hand written letter in the mail for as long as I can remember!  A hand written, stamp sealed, mail boxed letter seems so much more than just words in an e-mail or a chat window.  I love it!

My friends and family, I am sorry for all the times I have neglected you when we have been together.  I am sorry for being distracted in our conversations because of my facebook notifications.  I am sorry for being preoccupied in telling the facebook world how good the food is when I should be telling you how good your company is.  In return, I will pay more attention to you when we are together.  I will endeavour to give you my full attention.  I have bought myself a pack of stamps, ready to seal some hand written, heartfelt letters..............maybe."

20.09 2011
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