Between the bear earlier this week and my birthday yesterday, I experienced my own little bit of Facebook fame, garnering more likes, comments and reactions than I’ve ever had. I’m not too embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed the attention and checked in frequently to see who had commented.
For me, Facebook has become a fun way to connect with high school and college friends, “meet” writers, cyclists, and horse people who share similar interests, and share photos. It reminds me of peoples’ birthdays, invites me to events, and knows my hobbies so well it posts advertisements directed to me— yarn, exercise gear, shoes, and such. I admit I’ve gotten lured into shopping thanks to FB ads, and also have wasted time participating in inane surveys asking me if I can identify movie stars, how many states I’ve visited, whether I can distinguish a specific shade of green, or how much Yiddish I know. And probably tons more.
Then I read James Stewart’s “Common Sense” column in this morning’s New York Times, and sat up a bit straighter.
“Fifty minutes. That’s the average amount of time, the company said, that users spend each day on its Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms….)”
Whoa. I thought about my own habits. I check my email in the morning and then jump over to FB. I don’t use the other features. I’ll scan a screen page or two, extend birthday wishes if need be, and then proceed with my day. Unless I have posted something, like the bear blog or it was my birthday, I tend to not check it all day long.
Or do I? I’ll pull my phone out while waiting in line at the grocery store. I’ll check my phone upon leaving yoga class. I’ll check when I re-enter the house and then again before going to bed. I don’t keep my phone besides the bed; I still read real books.
“That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours) It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participate in sports or exercise (17 minutes; and nearly as much time as people spend eating and drinking. (1.07 hours).”
I’m not even in the average age group of users, the 18-34 range prized by advertisers. When I was in that age bracket, I was a college student, then working, then raising small children.
What would I be doing with those extra 50 minutes? Writing a great novel or play? Mastering a new sport? Taking up a new hobby? I worry that I’d probably still be on-line—browsing, shopping, chatting, emailing.
I was off the grid briefly in April when we were hiking in Arizona. and didn’t miss the constant need to check in, report my status, or tag my friends.
Yet, this entire social media is here to stay. The challenge is to monitor one’s use.
I hope to start by cutting 50 minutes at least in half.
What about you? Do you suffer from Internet Addiction Disorder?