Last night I had a nightmare the belligerent “ding!” of my Gmail notification kept going off and I couldn’t reach or find my phone. I woke up cranky, turned over, and grabbed my it: I got two new e-mails: one from Modcloth (stop it Modcloth! You already know I love you!) and Twitter telling me someone fave’d a Tweet and my face instantly lit up like a fully charged laptop. Yesterday I wrote about unplugging and how it’s super vital for all of us at some point or another. We can’t possibly be checking our phones and e-mail 24/7 without going a little crazy, am I right? The fact that many of us are infinitely plugged in isn’t a great thing; Emma Thompson, moreover, thinks it’s deadly.
Emma, a goddess and wise, beautiful award-winning actress who we all love and adore, brazenly stated, “I’d rather have root canal treatment for the rest of my life than join Twitter. God knows what it’s all doing to us.” She also added, “I hope that everyone does realize that we are all just one giant human experiment at the moment. We are just a great big bunch of gerbils on wheels. In about 25 years time, maybe, a sudden generation will just drop dead. Everyone will just die on the same day.”
I mean, okay. I think Emma Thompson is perhaps inflating the direness of the situation, but she has a point. I don’t know about you, but social media stresses me out. I mean, just five minutes ago, I tried coming up with a funny Tweet, and I couldn’t even do it! I felt awful and disappointed in myself. Twitter, along with Facebook, Instagram, and whatever other social media platforms you use, can make us really unhappy. Studies have already shown that Facebook has the ability to depress us because we “see” other people having “fun” and we feel the terrible affects of FOMO. We feel like OUR lives aren’t as fulfilling because instead of going scuba diving in Hawaii like our co-worker did last weekend, we were at home watching Scandal and eating cereal for dinner. And so we spiral into this existential crisis-type panic, and wonder what we are doing with our lives. Or maybe that’s just me, I don’t know.
We’re also the generation of “pics or it didn’t happen.” We take photos of our sumptuous brunches, our new cars, our friends, our pumpkin spice lattes, our bikini bods at the gym, our manicures, the concerts we go to, our pets, our babies, our candles, our bedrooms, as though if we didn’t, we didn’t actually experience those things.
Is Emma Thompson right? Are we just a bunch of gerbils on wheels? Would unplugging make us happier? Living a life off the grid certainly sounds free and maybe not so controlled. What did I eat for dinner tonight? HA, you’ll never know! What was I thinking when I went to go see Neighbors? You’ll just have to find out in person. Sure, unplugging would be healthier, and I’ve had friends delete their Facebooks and they have told me they’ve never felt better. But is social media necessarily an evil thing?
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook do create communities. Using social media is an easy way to spread news and even market yourself or your business. We belong to such a hyper-digital age, it’s kind of hard to just throw it all away at this point. We’ve come too far, in both good ways and bad. However, Emma Thompson has a valid point. Too much social media isn’t always advantageous for our mental health. Like all things (cheese, shellac, tequila, etc.), perhaps using them in moderation is always best.