Does this sound familiar at all?
You meet up with a friend – perhaps you’re in a bar, or a coffee shop – and you’ve not seen each other for a while. You’ve been busy at work, or there’s been a lot going on at home. But instead of sitting there chatting and catching up over a drink, you’re taking it in turns to check your phone.
You’ve checked yourself in, and tagged the other person in your status: “Drinks after work with Gemma!” And then you get drawn into that cycle: who’s liked my status? Who’s commented? Have I got any emails? What’s happening on Facebook? What’s trending on Twitter? And then after a couple of hours, when you’ve had a couple of drinks and you’re ready to head home, how much time have you spent on your phone, and how much have you really spent with Gemma?
For many, Christmas is the bright spot in their social calendar, with the office Christmas party, drinks with friends, dinners with families, and once you’ve made it past the big day itself then New Year’s Eve glimmers on the horizon. In December it’s likely that you’ll see more of your friends and family than the rest of the year. But even with so much time set aside to spend with our nearest and dearest, and with time off from work, away from the constant pressure of emails and deadlines, we still can’t seem to set down our smartphones and tablets, or step away from our laptops.
Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet, offers some simple suggestions to help you unplug this Christmas, to make sure that you spend some quality time with your loved ones away from the screen:
- Turn on your out-of-office for your work emails, stating when you’ll be back in the office – and stick to it. If you say you’ll be checking your emails occasionally over the Christmas break, it’s OK to do so – but maybe only once or twice a day, not every 15 minutes
- Don’t bring your phone to the dinner table. It’s OK – you can go back to them when you’ve all finished eating, but by leaving your phone behind when you sit down to eat you remove the temptation to check your emails/texts/Facebook/Twitter and give yourself space to enjoy each other’s company
- Got a great gift, or having a really fantastic festive moment? Take the time to enjoy it in real life first before posting a photo or update online.
Remember: the internet will still be waiting for you in the new year when you’re back at work, but why not try and spend some time with your friends and family this year where they get to see the real you, not the virtual one? It’s time to unplug, and step away from your smartphone.