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  3. Essay
  4. 2018.9.14

Digital detoxデジタル・デトックス

デジタル・デトックス© Getty Images
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What social media services do you use? Can you imagine doing without some of them, or even all of them?

Many people are avid users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Some may even experience a compulsion to scroll through their feeds all the time.

In the past, we read or just daydreamed when we were on the bus or train. Now, with smartphones in hand, many of us tend to pass the time looking at our social media apps.

I am guilty of this too. I often access news articles through Facebook, and I get a glimpse of how my friends are through their Instagram posts. But recently, I’ve become determined to cut my usage. For one, I’ve read about how social media giants are harvesting user data. Also, I see how my feeds are cluttered with advertisements and sponsored posts. It can be quite alarming to see ads for health supplements pop up in my feed, just minutes after I google “knee pain when I run.” I wonder what other data has been collected about me, and how I’m being profiled.

I am not alone in this. Several friends are even one step ahead of me. Some have gone off Instagram and others have deleted their Facebook accounts. All of them seem happy with their decision. With less time spent on scrolling through social media posts, they have more time to spend on exercise, reading, or just catching up on sleep.

Of course, deleting a social media account may not be as simple as signing up for one. Take Facebook, for instance. After submitting your request, it takes 14 days for the deletion process to begin. During these 14 days, your account remains in a deactivated state and you can choose to change your mind at any time. In fact, Facebook wants you to change your mind.

My friend who tried to delete his account received emails on how he would be missed by Facebook friends X and Y. He almost felt compelled to cancel his deletion request.

As for me, I need to maintain certain social media accounts for work. They are also a good way of keeping in touch with my friends, especially those living overseas. So I probably won’t start deleting my accounts.

Instead, I will start my digital detox by setting a quota for social media use. For example, I will steer clear of social media on weekends. More importantly, I will increase my sources of news by reading more newspapers and magazines in print, and using non-Facebook news apps. I will also think twice about what I “like” or share. As for keeping in touch with friends, there’s always email, snail mail, or even an actual meetup. (Tan Ying Zhen)

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