Becoming Unglued: Why We Need a Day to Unplug
On Oct. 4 of last year, Facebook and Instagram experienced an outage and it got a crapload of coverage. Many people went insane — myself included. I run a small consulting and media firm (shameless plug in the form of a link) and it’s my livelihood. I couldn’t work. I was constantly checking my phone but instead of checking for texts, nonsensical news off the web and “likes,” “follows” and everything in-between, I wanted to see if Mark Zuckerberg and his crack team of experts got their shit together. That lasted about an hour or three. I don’t remember. What I do remember, however, is a sense of calm after an hour (or three) in. The helplessness was welcome. The overall “oh well, what can you do” was pretty nice for a change. It was nice to see messages on Twitter just venting over Facebook and Insta not working instead of the usual plethora of negativity and rabbit-hole “newsness” and comment trolling. I miss that day. It passed pretty quickly.
We need a day like that again. Sort of like the fallout of George Floyd when many of us went hashtagless and put those black squares on our pages, we need to press pause. Bo Burnham has called social media a curse. He’s right. It’s also a drug. I work in the field, and I wouldn’t mind it shutting down even if for a day. Since it’s not being regulated and it’s so terribly toxic, I’m suggesting to President Biden that we have a National Day to Unplug. We need a day where we physically CANNOT use social media. We cannot help ourselves. We cannot regulate ourselves. The screen-time option on Apple devices and, most recently, on Instagram is a nice idea, but we, as users, have the ability to enable and disable it. It doesn’t work. The only way we can live in the moment is going to a concert where they take our phones away. I often tell a friend of mine that there should be a support group for those of us who can’t put our phones down for work or for pleasure, but there could never be because they couldn’t find someone to lead it. If there is one, by the way, drop me the name in comments. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong.
A National Day to Unplug or a catchier name would give us a break for a bit — even for a day. Let’s not add to the heaping pile of anxiety, depression, self doubt, and everything else we already have — just for one day. That was a lyric in “Heroes,” right? Sign my petition and maybe it’ll make its way to President Biden — or you know sell farts, take pics of it and read tweets about it.