When I first found out that Lena Dunham was bringing out a podcast, I was excited. I’m a big fan of Girls and I’ve read Lena’s book cover to cover (even the slightly more cringe worthy parts.)
The podcast, titled Women of the Hour, comes out every Thursday and consists of an hour long talk show in which Lena Dunham interviews a variety of women about their careers, achievements, views on feminism, their hair, their bodies, their vaginas, their friendships etc. etc.
This week, I tuned in from the comfort of my bedroom floor (I was wrapping presents) and was excited to hear that the show would feature an interview with Zadie Smith – one of my fave authors (who is bound to feature at least a few times in this blog!)
The interview revolves around Zadie Smith’s decision to firmly cut herself off from all forms social media and to not use a smartphone.
On first hearing this my reaction was something like: “Oh no. Is this going to be one of those interviews that makes me feel super guilty for being obsessed with Instagram and the Daily Mail Online?”
If that’s what you’re thinking, well luckily the answer is “No.”
Zadie Smith herself talks about how she lacks self control when browsing the web and how she finds herself particularly prone to falling into “a Beyoncé Google hole for four hours” or to looking up negative criticism about herself online.
It’s simple: giving up the Internet helps her to write more and to obsess less about negative critics. It helps her use her time better and live in the now, rather than in a chaotic cyber world filled with Kylie Jenners and funny cats.
Hmmm.. I ask myself. Maybe I should give up social media and get a flip phone?
There’s not doubt that the Internet is addictive and I could do without all the late nights, up til 2am reading crap online. Stories like those of Essena O’Neill definitely prove that social media can be damaging, and particularly if it is taken too seriously.
More interestingly, Smith also mentions that way that technology such as television and the internet affects our brains. Zadie Smith’s theory is that television caused the first “paradigm shift” in which the way her generation reacted with the world around them.
The Internet, has caused a second “paradigm” shift, and one that is harder to get out of; we cannot simply just “turn the internet off.”
I agree that the Internet affects the way that we react with the world and with each other. However – and I may just be speaking for myself here – I don’t think it is realistic for most people to “cut themselves off” from all social media.
So how can we find a middle ground between living with social media and not having totally unproductive and wifi focussed outlook on life?
It’s up to us, individually, to manage the way we perceive the online world. This can be by remembering that most of Instagram is heavily edited and fake, by using some self-restraint when it comes to Facebook stalking and even by trying to go for a coffee and leave our phones at home every so often.
No, I don’t think that I will be deleting by Facebook account anytime soon. However, maybe I should try a short cyber detox and see how I feel.
What do you think?