Should We All Declare Social Bankruptcy?

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This year, we’re not just challenging our community to re-examine how our lives are impacted by social media and technology — both positively and negatively — but we’re also asking ourselves to be more introspective. We issued a challenge to turn off our phones during Valentine’s Day to reconnect with a loved one. We discussed what it really means to be human. We looked at how tech can help us be more productive and maintain the balance.

But what is social so ingrained in our lives that we don’t know how to function socially without it? We all have been there when someone sheepishly admits they’re not on Facebook — gasp! “But why not?” echoes around the room.

The downside of being so socially connected and constantly being on is the increase in anxiety. Unanswered emails. Texts you must respond to or they get lost. Facebook messages piling up. Those little red notifications and alerts constantly going off. We always owe someone at least one correspondence. But is it getting to be too much?

When we’re overwhelmed with debt, we can declare bankruptcy and clear it all. What would happen if we did it with our social lives? The ultimate Inbox Zero. My soul produces a sigh of relaxation just thinking about it. We’d have no inboxes to worry about. No texts.

Last week, Portlandia touched on this in their (wonderful) satirical fashion.

Carrie, feeling overwhelmed, seeks out social bankruptcy. Being constantly on is creating such anxiety it is causing physical pain — and who wants to live life like that? It is poignantly described when the banker counters her desire to unplug permanently with “Pink retweeted me.”

To which, Carrie responds with “I can’t wait to miss out on jokes like that.”

Social has evolved to a point where it can surpass fun and jokes and be an integral part of life — as Portlandia eloquently jokes about. It can truly allow for deeper connections, especially as our culture is more transient and moves about. But unplugging is crucial to our well being. We can’t live our lives face down on our phones. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Social Media Week

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