No, I don’t mean that catchy Marvin Gaye rip off tune by Robin Thicke.

It’s in your head now ain’t it? Hahah.

Ok, maybe I am, but somehow I found myself humming this catchy tune on the way to work today, after collecting my daily cappuccino from cafe nero. Then a line from the song got me thinking….

I hate these blurred lines”

Immediately, my mind was transported back to my teenage youth ( yes i’m still a young one!! ). I saw myself dancing to this tune at the teenage disco, trying to attract the attention of the girls next to me and hopefully spark up a conversation about my horrible dance moves!

It was a much simpler time back then, where you were more concerned about what excuse can I tell the teacher about forgetting my homework or getting the latest akon song via infrared to your nokia 3310. We were all a social bunch of people back then, always seeing each other in person and catching up on what happened in the latest shows and football scores. Keeping that presence of being with friends, kept the brain and soul happy, always seeing them in person and laughing the day away.

That was until an epidemic hit that changed the social landscape forever….

Defcon Social

I still remember vividly when I found out about the new craze going round school called “bebo”, sitting on the wall outside school waiting on the bus. This foreign word made me look like a confused donkey at my friend, “What in hell is this bebo that everyone keeps talking about?”

Eventually I found out on the bus home how quickly everyone was getting “online”. Everything started to shift drastically, everyone had to have the latest social media, from MSN messenger to facebook. It was exhilarating and exciting that we could connect anytime and anywhere, spending your nights waving at each other over MSN, even when we just lived down the road from each other. The whole concept of “online friends” was exciting and powerful, where the more you had the more popular you were……

….or so it seemed.

As the craze went on and became the norm, we slowly lost our sense of being social in real life and in school. Childhood friends hid behind walls of text on a computer screen, meeting up for an 18th involved setting up a facebook event, where all the friends went from “going” to “not interested”. Where the hundreds of online friends you had, would never appear to just talk over a cup of tea in person.

The thought of just talking in person soon made people shutter, getting that shocked response of “What? You don’t have WhatsApp? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pigeon Mail?”

But yet everyone was still “online”, always “happy”, ready to do what they were told by their digital friends. However in reality, I saw bright bubbly people become more disconnected than ever before, isolated and battling severe depression, at such a young age too.

This increase of isolation, jealousy and depression heightened expedentialy with the rise of instagram, where it was more like a social media hunger games. People competing to battle it out to get the most likes, just by starving to death, borrowing to debt and filtering beyond recognition for the selfie likes. Just for that coveted goal of being an “insta” influencer, which in itself is still just as absurd to me since I first heard it.

The Millennial Matrix

This trend of being in the matrix and plugged in, where the red pill is considered “fake news” and thousands continued accepting the program and took the blue pill. Well it continued on through the rest of my life. It even followed me into my career and work.

I find myself 100% guilty of accepting the program when I first moved to belfast and started working as a software engineer. I got properly hooked on all of the social medias especially on the work slack.

I found myself being that guy, the one always online, at weekends, late nights and early mornings, ready to jump at that “defcon one” customer deal, where they could walk out at anytime if the problem wasn’t resolved then and there.  It cost a lot as I look back, I scarified a lot of time with my family, friends and my previous significant other. I never realised what I was doing to myself and others until I got a reality check when numerous significant events happened to me at once and I decided to book a week off work to go home.

I decided to help out around the family home, to be in the countryside again, a hundred miles from my connection to the digital world… my laptop which sat in a locked drawer in work. The longest I had been without it! It was pretty tough!

But it was the kick I needed up the arse to live in the now and moderate my addiction to the online world.

Lukewarm Sober

I’ve slowly controlled the addiction. After multiple burnouts, stress induced panic attacks and “I’ll just spend the day in bed” episodes. I decided enough was enough, to get back to my former self, the always optimistic and cheerful person I use to be prior to being plugged in. So this is what inspired me to create my own blogging website (hypocrite I know ha) , to channel my output into something creative and productive, rather than scrolling for hours instagram, facebook and slack to see what I’m missing out on, even if I couldn’t take part.

But anyways, this brings me back to that line “I hate these blurred lines”. If you blur the lines between two things, you make it harder to tell them apart, where they become so similar that we can no longer tell the difference. The difference between your digital life and real life. This also goes for your work and life balance, take the time to have a reality check in. It’s much better to have the real world rule more than the digital world, just for your own sanity.

This isn’t a complete one sided attack against the online social media either, I can see and appreciate both sides to the coin. It has made it possible for us to get connected to distant people and keep up to date with round the world events. I’m just getting my point across that it’s more like a realisation that our generation needs to have a balance, like any indulgence such as alcohol or junk food.

Just don’t get lost in it, you are Neo!

For me? I took the option of asking for both pills in the end. 😉

Until next time!

SH

 

Note: My first blog post! a bit of a serious post but one that I’ve been thinking of quite a lot. Hopefully you liked it 🙂