Time merely passes by before you hear or read of how people are “getting lost” in their online activities and surfing every single day (movies, gaming, social media). You will even hear of someone complaining of how another person they were hanging out with just whipped out their phone to reply to a text or tweet. Others would even dare say that this era is making people “stupid”. There has been this argument/division over years now, of how people have become unable to manage the time they spend online and interacting with others face-face. Is it really a valid one though?

But first, we need to clearly realize that despite where we stand on this agenda, a lot of our daily behaviour has changed over time as more and more gadgets and activities evolve to be accommodated on a screen. Fifteen years ago, our screen time was limited to just a TV and if you were lucky enough, a computer desk. Yet even then, the internet had not really been introduced to the African world to make us as glued to it as we are now.

For those whose lives depend hugely on the time you are online, this question may be worth considering; does technology keep us from interacting with our real world or does it enhance it anyway? With a day not having changed from the traditional 24hours, it may be true that we spend a lot less time doing any other thing than scrolling up and down pages. When was the last time you read that big old newspaper or a physical book?

What is most crucial to our time spent logged on is what happened when logged off

However, some do argue that we can’t separate our “online” and “offline” lives as they are both paramount parts of our lives.  They do argue that this view of trading lives is a myopic one as what we exchange on our everyday lives with friends and family on Instagram and Facebook is real life.

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What we live in is an augmented reality that exists at the intersection of our physicality and digitality. Everything we do in sites, social media platforms is a direct reflection of what’s happening out here. Instagram doesn’t exclude the offline but depends on it. What is most crucial to our time spent logged on is what happened when logged off; it is the fuel that runs the engine of social media. 

Do you agree? Maybe but all this would be true if the whole internet was social media, which it is not. The internet comprises of a whole lot more stuff than just sharing our daily photos, insights, check-ins, stories or videos. It consists of a sea-fill of information, entertainment, games, book-reading and review, engagement with others, all this is often done quite privately without having to do it in the public with other users seeing. A majority of corporate players are moving to this direction now. All this is happening to interact with you individually and not in the presence of your friends. So, no, let’s not limit the definition of this new era to just showing off our wonderful lives in still photos, opinions or videos.

“Wi-Fi detox”, a bit like therapy or irrigating the mind, taking out all the unnecessary slime.

But still, a whole bunch would rather have everything they do physically than through a network. How do you get to convince them that this argument is not here to solve any problem? Most of those embracing to have gadgets that just receive and send calls or texts, argue that the internet is sort of like eating the wrong food for long periods of time, or using drugs whose results will finally catch up and ruin your normal life. It is becoming the next big purge to do the “Wi-Fi detox”, a bit like therapy or irrigating the mind, taking out all the unnecessary slime.

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Just as that suggests you were eating too much and detoxing is only for those who have had far too much pointless stuff, this, you should not have done in the first place. With a world that not only depends on social media but on life itself such as our careers, going offline should only be for those who clearly do not need the internet. But it also sets a kind of reputation that you are so hotly in demand that you do not need to take a step back from the craziness and that you cannot even afford to do so.

See, even if I went off the grid, I will still need to go look up my emails for work or school. If I do not, I risk missing a deadline or not completing a job that would risk me being fired. Let’s face it, this purge should be for those that can afford to do so. We do not live two lives, just one that depends on us being on the internet or physically with people. What you decide to look up is a choice only made by you. How much time you spend on it is a choice only from you.

Of course, YouTube and Twitter are addictive, all about craving company and getting rid of boredom, but we mere mortals have work that depends on it. Checking messages and fielding calls out of hours is now a routine part of many office lives. The internet is the present and the future. However much you separate yourself, you will have a task that demands of you to go look up some ideas on Google or fill a form on an institution’s website or even worse…watch a video on YouTube. Get used to it and be a better manager of your time wisely!

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