Chances are you’re already neck-deep in social media. Stalking the new colleague’s Facebook profile instead of getting to know them face-to-face, tweeting the ish out of Twitter’s latest trends, failing to set your own, and photographing every moment of your weekend’s adventures to share on Instagram, forgetting to actually enjoy the moment.

While social media has given us a platform to rant all we like, meet interesting people we never would’ve otherwise (unless you have faith in fate) and instantly share news and info, the surge of new networks is becoming a bit much, don’t you think? Now being a millennial and working in a digital environment, there’s no escaping social media for me. No doubt it does wonders for business, our “social” lives and keeping us in the know, but social media, like most things in life, is a double-edged sword, that if used mindlessly, can jab at our sense of reality.

Do you even still read a full story or does a 140 character tweet from @News24 (without actually clicking through to the link for the full story) suffice for you? When last did you go on a good ‘ol fashion date with someone whose trolley you (purposely) bumped into in the grocery store? Does your ratio of online friends outweigh your real-life friends? (sad, but true for most of us) Do you spend more time online than offline?

See where I’m going with this…

Social media connects us, for sure. But the fact that it does and the very idea that it makes us more social, is paradoxical. It has certainly revolutionised the way we interact, both on a personal and professional level. You can Skype with your far cousin in New Zealand, have a Google Hangout with your bud teaching English in South Korea and meet new people from around the world on Facebook in the comfort of your own home all you want and you can even exhibit your online CV on LinkedIn for the best companies to see, but if you’re not mindful of the way and the extent to which you consume social media, it might end up doing more good than bad. While social media allows us to inexpensively engage with people, it can disconnect us from real face-to-face interaction.

There is, after all, nothing quite like real human interaction. Reading about your best friend’s wedding (the one you missed) and seeing photos of it, will NEVER EVER compare to the experience of having physically been there.

Here’s what isn’t social. Constantly whatsapping while you’re out with a bunch of mates (even if you’re all doing it – in which case y’all look like a bunch of dof tweenagers). Just saying. Also, it’s disrespectful. Messaging your colleague sitting across the desk from you… Now that’s just plain lazy! If someone’s taking time out to spend time with you, show some gratitude. Okay, so I’m also guilty of having done this at times, but on reflection (yes, that’s a hint – reflect reflect reflect!), I’ve come to realise how ridiculous this is.

We all have a friend that pours the days of their lives out on social media, but when you meet them in person, is as shy as a mouse. Just goes to show how social media can give a voice to those who can barely hold a conversation with a fellow human face-to-face. But then they usually overshare, and overcompensate. Pff… The world would be a much better place if some people took the courtesy to replace their Facebook account with a diary.

Now I’ve tried staying offline for some time, back when I didn’t work in digital, and I probably lasted 3 days max. I still texted, but completely banned myself from all social media. It then went down to a day, after which my interest piqued again and dropped again and these days I barely post to my own social media profiles, browsing no further than the first page of my news feeds. So I spent the time I would’ve otherwise obsessively scanned through news feeds, to focus on writing poetry instead. There’s way too much to digest out there and frankly, I think it would inevitably drive us all nuts. Those two uninterrupted hours on Facebook or Twitter could be better spent using our Muscle Tool to get back in shape or learning to Do Everything Better. Or whatever else floats your boats, as long as it’s constructive.

If you had to think twice about anything I’ve mentioned, then perhaps it’s time to put a lid on the noise that is social media, yeah? At the least, discipline yourself enough to stay offline for at least a few hours a day. If you really need to send a text, send it. But if it’s a ridiculous case of #FOMO (fear of missing out), a form of social anxiety that comes with the plethora of social media we’ve subjected ourselves to, then stay away.

There’s a tree, somewhere out there, waiting to be hugged.

PS. How’s about sharing to your Facebook and Twitter before parting from them?