Meet John*. John is 32 years old, a private banker by trade and his typical day starts with a 1 and a half hour gym session 4 times a week.
After gym it is time for breakfast of a three-egg omelette and bacon with coffee filled to the brim with butter. Not because it tastes good, but because Dr. Google says carbohydrates are bad and fats are good….yummy! Breakfast is consumed (true fitness fanatics don’t eat, they consume. Eating is only done by people who enjoy it) whilst taking in the daily news from various sources on the internet….News24….Mail and Guardian….and EWN, sharing and liking stories at a feverish tempo. Time is money!
After breakfast it is time for a shower and then off to work which is about a half hours drive from John’s home. Today is one of those days….accident on the way to work. “Accident on M1 after Marlboro” he tweets, followed by “Just hating the traffic #trafficsucks”. On his way to the office he feverishly checks four times whether any of his tweets have been retweeted or favourited.
Arriving at the office, it is through the parking lot, the lobby and up to the fourth floor, not forgetting to check in at the office on Facebook and waiting for likes to come in. Arriving at his office he is greeted by Pete* who asks him: “Guess where I went last night?” “I know, you went to Butcher Shop, had the 300g Rump Steak, 3 Glasses Wine and Tiramisu dessert” he replies remembering what he had read on Facebook last night. Throughout the day any possible break is spent checking status updates on Facebook and liking posts where a likes are due.
After work it is back home to put in a session of his internet generated workout plan. Two workouts a day you ask…..overdoing it….no, WebMD says it is perfectly fine and good for you. His 8km run is posted on Strava and directly shared to Facebook. For the remainder of the night he waits for likes of his activity whilst reading a book on Kindle or Zinio. Tomorrow the same ritual starts again.
On 19 June 2014 it happened. John was sitting in his office, checking his likes and comments on his most recent post on Facebook when suddenly his screen displayed the dreaded “server can not be found” error message. The server must be off, he thought, taking out his phone to read the comments. “Connection error” the app says upon opening it. By this time John feels the nervousness come over him while he reaches for his briefcase to take out his Ipad.
With a nervous trembling he opens the app on his Ipad only to be greeted by the “Connection Error” message. It happened…..Facebook shut down! Not able to take the tension he gets up from his desk and walks out of the office, not actually knowing where he is walking to, as long as he gets out of the building. He sat outside the office and could not believe that everything was gone, he world has come to an end.
Just as he was about to be overcome with emotion, a ping emanated from his trouser pocket. He hastily removed his phone from his pocket to see “Pete liked your status update”. A sense of relief came over him, known knowing that his Facebook empire did not just fall apart.
This may sound excessive, but it is a reality in today’s world. People have become totally reliant on the internet and social media to live their lives. This, in turn, has a negative effect on people, families, relationships and friendships.
For instance, on Monday mornings, after the weekend, I’d guess more than 50% of people already know what their colleagues and friend did over the weekend with the effect that there is less to talk about. People are so consumed by seeing what their friends do and post that they miss out on the important things at home.
How many times do people spend on social media when that quality time could have been spent with family. Just look around, how many couples do you see going out and both sit playing with their phones. What happened to watching the news at 19h00 each night and reading the paper in the morning. If something happens in between so be it.
Maybe Facebook shutting down wouldn’t be such a bad thing?
*Real name withheld for purposes of privacy.