Of the internet and inactivity. #7DaysOffline

Holiday pictures. Oh how we long to take holiday pictures. No matter where we are or what we’re doing there, we take snaps of it. Yet, as Irish comedian Dylan Moran once pointed out, we’re so busy taking pictures that we don’t actually live in the moment. So we get home and look back retrospectively on somewhere we weren’t.

Think about it.

Given this, I have decided to launch “7 Days Offline” (or for those with social networking tendencies, #7DaysOffline). I’m tired of tweeting about something instead of actually being there and experiencing it. I’m tired of trying to find something witty, smart, unique or super-informative to tell people, when I should actually be in the moment and taking it all in.

It’s for this very reason that I have a well documented hatred for Crowne Comedy nights (and I have no problem stating on a public platform because I’ve spoken to the guy who organises it about my issue). These comedy evenings take place at the Crowne Plaza in Joburg, and people tweet a lot about it using the #CrowneComedy tag. My issue is this: they tweet about it is as it’s happening, on the stage, in front of them. They’re there, but they’re not really, because they’re too busy tweeting (often without attributing the comic – but that’s another story for another day). I can’t deal with it and I’ve forever muted #CrowneComedy.

The same goes for Facebook updates. I’m not an active Facebook user anymore, but I’ve seen loads of people who constantly update their status about every little thing. I used to be one of those people who did that.

Then you get Foursquare, where people tell you where they are all the time. What is the point of that? I had it about 3 days and then deleted it. It’s stupid.

Don’t panic, I hear your comments from the sidelines. You know, the “social media is essential” statement and the “it’s great for info-sharing” assertation. And you’re right. It’s also really good entertainment. And I love social media. I honestly do. But I don’t love it enough to miss out on being in the moment and experiencing something without inhibition – and, let’s be honest, it is a inhibition in many ways.

So I’ve launched #7DaysOffline.

As the name will suggest, I’m unplugging myself from social media for a week – i.e. from midnifght Sunday, February 26, until midnight the following Saturday. Twitter, Facebook, blogs. They’re all off-limits for me for seven days.

Of course, there are some rules:

  • I am not to log on to any social networking site unless required for work (as a journalist, it might be neccesary for me to do so). If I do have to log on, that day will not count and will be added to the end of the offline period. So, no matter what, I will be offline for seven 24-hour periods.
  • BBM and Whatapp will only be used to speak to close friends, family and colleagues. Contacts’ status updates will be completely ignored.
  • Email will only be used for work purposes.
  • Personal blogging is outlawed for the seven-day period. The only blogging allowed will be related to the Newswriting III course I lecture at DUT, and only on the dedicated blog.

Apart from it being my chance to tap into real-life experiences as they happen instead of tweeting about it, this is also a chance for me to do a little bit of a social experiment. Naturally, I can’t tell you what I’ll be looking at, but I’ll let you know as soon as I’m back up and running.

Do I want you to join me in this? No. It’s my choice and my decision. If you’d like to, fair enough. I just feel I’m missing out on a full experience as I sit on my phone trying to tell people about an event I’m not really at.

On that note. Farewell and see you in a week.

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