What you need to know:
- We all have our poisons but there's nothing worse than the poison which tastes good and feels good and takes its toll slowly over years
- We all know it's a problem but because we can't completely extricate ourselves from it because social media is part of our lives
The worst possible thing happened to me this week. It happened to the whole world but since I own this space, I'll be selfish and focus on myself for a second. I was right in the middle of talking to my Nigerian princess and about to get my millions of dollars which she had inherited when my world collapsed as Facebook went down. My one chance at instantaneous riches had vanished and the world will never be the same again.
The hours without WhatsApp got me texting like one who lived in the stone age. I even tested my voice by calling a bunch of friends, and I swear I sounded alien. I now understand why generation Z, would rather DM rather than hear the other person's voice—or their own.
The hiatus on Zuckerberg's platforms, stretched infinitely for most people because Kenyans spend on average around 3.5 hours of their days every day online, primarily on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. The break left most people without anything to do unless they finally remembered their Twitter password, where they all went to rant about how unfair everything was. I feel sorry for our parents who were without WhatsApp, which as we know is their steady and consistent source of misinformation and incredulous forwards.
The break was a quick refresh button especially for me because I am online from dawn to dusk unless it's interrupted by someone. Oops! I meant something to do. It was also a mental relief. A well-needed one. WhatsApp wasn't working meaning that no work-related texts were coming through and I wasn't getting a million text notifications from all the WhatsApp groups I've been forcefully added to. I was at peace for the first time in a while.
I remember my friend, Boniface 'wa Nguruwe' Mwangi, writing how hard it was for him to go through his social media cleanse. I've been promising myself I should do the same thing, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Most of us reading this know they've promised themselves a break, but FOMO has us limping back after a few hours.
But you know social media addiction is something we should paying attention to now. A study recently reported that 16 percent of millennials and 19 percent of Gen Z's reported that social media had caused them anxiety. This was exacerbated by Covid, as many of us now isolated from our networks, got cabin fever, and the only way to connect with the world was through social media.
We blinked and almost two years later, we are living on our phones, and hanging on to every meme. It's who we are now.
Is it ironic that many of us say we want to be less on social media, yet we are trapped pedaling furiously on the digital wheel, hoping that if we do it fast enough we'll either fall of, jump off or someone will come to save us.
An intentional social media hiatus or schedule might be useful to all of us, if this week's happenings are anything to rely on. I think we're all tired of having to be constantly on. We are stuck between enjoying the dopamine hits when people interact with our content but also dealing with anxiety as we wait for the likes and comments to trickle in, or our post to go viral.
We all have our poisons but there's nothing worse than the poison which tastes good and feels good and takes its toll slowly over years. We all know it's a problem but because we can't completely extricate ourselves from it because social media is part of our lives permanently, but we need to develop healthier ways to engage.
Take a break every few days. Talk to people in real life. Stop taking what people say online as what everyone thinks. Stop getting into social contexts and trying to make it an extension of online conversations you saw and learn to enjoy people and situations as they are, in the real world.
For feedback write to the editor: [email protected]