Everyone succumbs to the dreaded ‘detox’ at some point. Usually food and drink related, September has seen calls for a digital detox to curb addiction to social media. Fine. Just don’t forget small business.
There’s nothing wrong with month-long abstentions. Some folk need a goal. It helps many to refocus and consider what’s important to them.
The September digital detox is a reaction to the world’s obsession with everything online.
Once it was a mild habit of checking emails several times a day. Now, apparently, most of us are on one social media platform or another every few minutes.
I provide written content and some social media support for a range of clients. For me, much of my online time is genuinely work related. Over the last 18 months I have actually reduced the time I spend updating personal feeds.
What grabbed my attention over the last year is the banality of most ‘social’ content. If it’s not endless ‘selfies’ or jibes at one political leader or another, it’s constant moaning about the state of pavements or the demise of once vibrant town centres.
Hello! People sat on mobile phones and tablets, ordering takeaways and buying gadgets from large online multi-nationals… take a look in the mirror.
We have all seen the local high street change beyond all recognition. The big chains have fallen, units remain empty, and there are less people meeting and greeting to have a chat when out shopping.
The same is true of pubs. They must compete with cheap booze stores and supermarkets that flog beers and wine at half the price. And where the local was once somewhere to chat, debate and enjoy some entertainment, many now prefer the sofa with a tablet strapped to their arm.
That conversation and ‘word of mouth’ that once kept local tradesmen (and women) busy has more often switched to social media recommendations.
How often have you seen some post a Facebook status asking “Does anyone know a…” when looking for a decent product or service in their town?
This is my main concern about September’s digital detox. Those small businesses, the ones trying to gain a foothold and fight the big-budget monoliths, need publicity.
Moreover, they need positive publicity.
That takes me to another pet dislike of social media. People’s default setting is to moan, criticise and destroy. Whether that’s political reputations, TV ‘stars’ or sports personalities. Knock ‘em down, and hard.
So, instead of a complete shutdown in September, why not be positive for a month. I don’t expect everyone to be complimentary about Donald Trump or Theresa May, but why devote hours to lambasting them?
Worse case, you’re probably just winding yourself up more.
Instead, use your time online to praise the local bakery; big up the local boozer for its cheery landlady; promote that family fun day at the park that raises money for charity; and celebrate the bunch of volunteers who pick litter each month because they want to make a difference to the community.
You never know, you might feel good about it.
Limit your time on Twitter. Allocate half an hour to catch up on family Facebook posts in the evening. Post a picture that shows how great your village, town or city looks in the late summer and early autumn light.
Stop posting so many ludicrous selfies. And STOP adding those ridiculous fairy ears to your pictures!
Enjoy a September digital detox by all means.
However, like many other forms of diet there’s often the inevitable rebound when service returns to normal. You might find yourself crashing on the social media pounds as you gorge yourself on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we welcome the first days of October.
As ever, the best advice is moderation. Chop some things, cut down on others. But a complete shutdown? Think about the people and businesses who still need the social media lifeline.
Enjoy #digitaldetox across September.