What would happen if NO-ONE used Twitter, Facebook – whatever you will – for a whole day? Would we feel the after shocks anywhere? What would happen to crime rates and suicide rates, levels of self-esteem and stock indices? Would companies go bust in a day if their PR people took a break from their social media crusades? Would the internet – rather like a fat man riding a bike – collapse under its colossal weight if the Web 2.0 wheels that drive it stopped turning?

Analogies and imagery aside, I ask the question only because websites like Twitter, Facebook and the rest have become so entrenched in personal and professional life that it is an interesting thing to ponder… seeing as we will never be able to actually witness a complete hiatus in their use. For reasons unknown, I awoke on Christmas morning and made the intention to stop using Twitter and Facebook. By stop I really mean stop my habitual use of them and limit myself to checking and updating once a day for a few minutes.

For a long while before, whenever I was doing any sort of work on my laptop I would have a browser of each of the above continually open and check them at very frequent intervals. Not only did it become obsessive, but the amount of time wasted and broken concentration made me wonder whether curbing my use would make a noticeable difference, to anything. In the past, if I were to go a few days without checking my news feed and messages, I’d rush onto my account expecting something tremendously important to have happened in my absence. It rarely did. So why did I feel the need to check multiple times daily with such compulsion?

Don’t get me wrong: I love social media and think it is useful on endless levels, as well as being fascinating from an anthropological perspective. Just think how much information historians for the next millennia will have about us. The whole study of history – and many more subjects as we know it will be changed.

Twitter has done a lot to promote me as a writer. Thanks to it I have had articles I have written posted on many websites, been head hunted and have even met, attended a writing course of and become a friend of one of my favourite authors!

We are social beings and social media can help us feel more connected with those we meet. It is not, however, a replacement for real relationships.

Over a week on and it’s going excellently. I still get all the benefits of being plugged into the latest “gossip” and contributing my own two penny’s worth, without any of the brain zapping side effects. I have not downloaded the App equivalents for iPhones, despite inheriting my dad’s old one for Christmas. And best of all, I have so much more time and much less of the heartache involved from being disappointed when the guy I like still hasn’t replied to me. Sad, but true. And I’m not the only one.

Facebook-free Fridays? It will never happen. When will we ever get more than a roomful of people to agree on something? But it would make for a mighty interesting experiment. Try abstaining sometime, just to see. It’s not going anywhere.

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