Wednesday, 23 January 2013

System Addict - UK Vogue Jan 2013

Image created by artandwords on polyvore.com

Being in the middle of a move has disrupted some of the things I take for granted on a daily basis - like internet access. The semi digital detox has made me remember an article I found really interesting in the January 2013 issue of British Vogue by Kathleen Baird-Murray:

"Outsmarted by smartphones; too Pinterested for our own good; over-pecked by Twitter... Kathleen Baird-Murray asks: is it time to pull the plug on 'anti-social' media?"

The article explores a cross-section of experiences where technology could be said to impinge, rather than enhance, our lives; weaving personal anecdotes together with scientific evidence, the author makes a persuasive case for a more thoughtful approach to social media use.

It's a topic that caught my attention because it has recently been brought up in conversation by different friends from different social groups: it seems to be one of the questions of the moment, and one that is definitely on my mind as I continue to try and make sense of how I use my time.

My own answer has been to create a kind of 'personal policy' - something flexible enough that allows me to respond to changes in circumstances, but disciplined enough for me to feel like I'm in control of my social media use, instead of being dictated to by it.

Elements of this 'personal policy' encompass blogging, facebook and even email use. At the heart of what I want to achieve is being able to use technology to improve myself and the relationships I value in a constructive way, without opening the door to the little insecurities I know I'm prone to. 

One example has been the decision to largely check facebook via my email account so that I'm only responding to the interactions that are actually relevant to me, instead of being sucked into spying on other people and comparing my life to theirs. I also try to avoid checking facebook more than a couple of times a week, unless I know I have a reason too, otherwise I'm all too tempted to feel neglected if there are no messages or notifications. 

Similarly, although I have a smartphone, I deliberately don't receive email and facebook alerts on my mobile so that I can preserve some semblance of blissful ignorance and attention to the present throughout my day.

Distancing myself a little from the 24/7 availability of social media enables me to be a bit more focused about what I want to achieve through it. I can more easily keep a sense of perspective and it's easier to appreciate the good things access gives me, the things I enjoy and benefit from - a creative outlet and opportunities to write, the chance to catch up with or encourage people spontaneously and with very little legwork.

The article was a reminder that these kinds of decisions really do matter, and I'm not alone in grappling with them. 

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