The Social Experiment

Could you just put down your phone and leave it there?

Last Thursday, I went to the Zoo with the Little Man and I did something very mmmm ….’weird‘.

Weird? For you Poppins? God damn, that must have been weird, what was it?

Well, I took out my phone and documented the day as usual but something in me said ‘Do I really need to show this off to the outside world?’

On one hand, a bonding trip to Dublin Zoo is ‘Insta-gold’ but on the other hand, it was our special time. Just the two of us. Yes, I wanted photos but did they need to be shared with every Tom, Dick and Harry with an internet connection?

Daddy Poppins - an irish dad blog at Dublin Zoo

(A. It’s not a real turtle)

(B. I do understand Irony)

I spend my life Instagramming all kinds of crap, from my journey to the shops/gym to the mess the kids left in the playroom and everything in between. It generally gets me through the day, I mean, laundry, cleaning and cooking are pretty god damn monotonous and if you can break the monotony with a few dad jokes and the odd meme on social media then what harm eh?

At what point does social media take over?

I’ve no issue with taking a few pics and videos when I’m out having fun but sometimes it feels I’m doing things ‘for the gram’ (God I hate using that phrase) or I’m spending more time thinking about Instastories (or how to document something funny that just happened in ‘tweet format’) than enjoying the moment, anyway, It got me thinking….

Am I pandering to my Instagram followers rather than living my real life?

And am I happy about the potential answer to this question

Has my love affair with social media turned into an abusive relationship?

Is something I used to use to ‘break up the day’ now ‘taking up the day’?

With this in mind, I decided to not upload the photos and videos of the day and that night I did something extraordinary… I turned off my phone!!

(Like, I made a conscious decision to turn it off, it didn’t just run out of battery).

I wanted to see if I was addicted to it, as my wife regularly tells me, or if I could just go ‘cold turkey’ without too much hassle. could Daddy Poppins handle a social media break?

And so begins Daddy Poppins ‘Social Experiment’

Side note: I’m pretty proud of myself with that 👆 (if you haven’t been ’round these parts before that’s probably as clever as it’s ever going to get).

Initially, I didn’t know how long it would last, I mean, I do have online commitments but these could wait for at least a day, couldn’t they?

Those that know me will vouch for the fact that I’m a stubborn old mule so the first day was easy peasy. As my phone sat, off, on the kitchen counter I resolutely launched myself into box sets and family life and even spoke to my wife without constantly glancing at a device in my hand.

I had a real ‘lazy day’. That probably helped. How lazy? Well, do you know that Netflix now has Gavin and Stacy from the beginning these days? Well, I do and I’ve now seen it all.

Alright Uncle Bryn, calm down. I used the android box for that.

Anyway, I’m digressing. I found it a lot easier than I thought I would to escape from technology (yes, I still know about the concept of irony and the Netflix/technology factor), especially considering that ‘lovely’ *ahem* new iPhone feature tells me I use my phone for about 8-9 hours a day 😱. Yeah, you heard me. Now you can understand why my wife says I’m addicted.

If truth be told, at this stage, I loved the peace and quiet that not having to ‘check in’ and clear my notifications brought. Apparently, I pick up my phone around 100 to 150 times a day, Cheers for that Mr iPhone.

Ok, I know I’m spoiling the fact that I lasted 3 days by dropping that infographic now but I honestly would have lasted longer if I didn’t have some online work to do and more importantly have to reply to people who’d started trying different avenues to contact me to see if I’d been kidnapped or killed (That in itself says something about my phone use doesn’t it).

So, what did I learn from my social media break?

  • Family time is much more fun if you aren’t concerned about ‘Instagramable‘ moments.
  • Match of the Day is much more exciting if you didn’t have the results at your fingertips all day.
  • You will constantly feel that you’ve forgotten something the first few times you go out without your phone.
  • You will get twitchy about messages and important notifications that you could be missing around day 2.
  • The Boo can play Snakes and Ladders (which she calls ‘ladders and snakes’, awh!!) for days on end
  • You will be more ‘in the moment’ if you don’t have your face constantly stuck in a screen.
  • Your kids will take more credence in you saying put away the phone/tablet when you are able to do it yourself.
  • Much like your work email after a holiday, no one looks after your notifications when you are off. There will be a veritable ‘shit-tonne’ upon your return ‘to work’.
  • Your partner will be shocked by the fact you don’t actually have a phone glued to your hand (after years of it being stuck there I can see why they’d believe that it may need to be surgically removed).
  • Your online friends will notice you’re gone, they are a great support network.
  • You’ll be less distracted in general, meaning you are more productive. (even if my productivity was largely based around playing Snakes and Ladders with the Boo and binging through Netflix).
  • You’ll remember how comfy the couch is and spend less time hanging around beside the kettle and ‘phone charger socket’ in the kitchen.

And most importantly, I learned that…

Technology is an important part of modern life but shouldn’t be allowed to become more important than the actual ‘life’ part.

So I’m back on social media today, and yes I’m going to have a bit of craic on Instastories and plug this blog across all the platforms but I reckon I’ve learnt some valuable lessons from my time out from social media. I’m not going to be all preachy or give it all up, I get so much laughter and fun from my online friends (they’re definitely friends, they even checked if I was dead) but I do foresee more phone free weekends and dedicated family time in the future.

So if I go missing in the future I’m not dead! just ‘Carpe Diem-ing’ the shit outta it.

Oh, and here’s more pics from our time at the Zoo 😜 #ironyoverload

Daddy Poppins at Dublin Zoo
we really got immersed in the exhibits
penguins at Dublin Zoo
you gotta love the penguins
Dad and Son time at Dublin Zoo
Dad and Son time at Dublin Zoo

19 thoughts on “The Social Experiment

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    1. It can be all time consuming if you let it can’t it. My current attitude is there’s no point in being a parenting blogger if it makes you too busy to parent.

      I really enjoyed the break, even if it’s meant I’ve had to play catch up since. I’ll definitely do it more often in the future I haven’t ‘switched off’ (literally) for years.

  1. You know’ you’re right. It’s great to take a break…but when it works as your income stream too, drops in views etc can get your back up! I’m working on it though!

      1. I definitely find it a challenge managing social media accounts to promote my blog at the same time as trying to be present and not live my life through my phone. It usually means I end up neglecting the accounts (which is better than spending too much time on my phone I suppose) but I’m sure there’s a balance to be found in there somewhere. Sounds like even a short break made a difference for you though! It seems like something we could all benefit from.

  2. I know that my blog suffers from the lack of time I spend on social media but I made a choice about a year ago that I didn’t really give a nad. I usually try and get one good pic from a day out, maybe a few more if there is a post in it, but for the most part my problem with my phone is that I constantly am checking and deleting e mails. None are ever important, just drives me nuts having them sitting there #triumphanttales

  3. Great post! I find it awful if I see people in front of a wonderful sight but not seeing it as they are too busy to get that social media worthy picture. it’s good to digitally detox sometimes 🙂 #dreamteam

  4. Bravo on that performance of living life as is… the way we used to. remember bringing film to the drug store and waiting, dare I say, a week to see anything at all! Great experiment, one we all need to do. #dreamteam xo

    1. I must admit it felt very much like the older days, the board games came out and I watched soccer highlights without already knowing all the scores.

  5. Social media can be so time consuming can’t it. Even if you aren’t really doing anything, it’s just so distracting. I do like to take breaks and step away from it now and then.

    1. I can pick up my phone to do a quick job and found I’ve lost a few hours on twitter and never got to the original job at all

  6. I’m trying to dial back – I waste too much time reading too much rubbish online. I think it’s easy to get addicted to the intrusion of the phone. Good post – I only know one person who says ‘for the gram’. I’d never heard it before her. It’s a little tryhard for me. #TriumphantTales

    1. I hear loads of ‘influencer types’ say it (the kind I’m generally allergic to). I wouldn’t dream utter the words in real life but I felt it got across my point in this one instance.

  7. I am super impressed!! I honestly don’t think I could do it. Having said that I may or may not have been missed on Twitter recently (help me feel a bit better here!) I don’t know why but I just haven’t had the desire to scroll on through like I have done in recent years. I have no doubt it is a phase and I will be back soon, but it’s nice to know I can live without it. But my phone entirely? Na ah. Fair play to you! Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales

    1. I must say I found skipping the social ‘ok’ but I missed the alarms, electronic lists, reminders about events and having a clock in my pocket etc. more.

  8. Great post. It can become very time consuming all this social media malarkey. I have a few things that we do every week which are never filmed/ commented upon and I have started to make myself actually watch my kids swimming at their lessons instead of seeing that as twitter catch up time. I think I should limit it even more though. I am fairly sure the world won’t end…. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam

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