x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Confessions of a technophobe or how not to get ahead on social media

I have been unsuccessful in stopping the habits of social media from breaching my defences, infiltrating my mind and invading my psyche, says Su'ad Yousif

I did the oddest thing the other day. I was reading the newspaper, mostly scanning headlines and looking at pictures. While I was doing this I came across a picture that warranted closer inspection. I did something that officially blurred the lines between my real and virtual existences. I made a move to double tap the picture. You know, as you would on Instagram to “like” a picture.

My brain sent messages to my hand instructing it to move towards the page and to extend my index finger, in preparation to touch the picture. The fact that I was not staring at a screen but had a physical copy of the newspaper in my hands, didn’t seem to resonate until after my finger was hovering over the picture.

What is there to say? Well to start with, I’m none too impressed with my brain. I would like to tell my brain that it’s not the boss of me and that I control me, but my brain just told me to say that, so I’m really completely at its mercy.

Next, I take this as a sign that I am genuinely losing it. It’s quite disappointing really, because I was never one to be glued to social media. I normally check Facebook once a day, unless I’m actively looking for something. I have a secret Instagram account that I check every few days. I’m not even on Twitter, although I did make a bold birthday declaration last year that it would, finally, be the year I would tweet myself silly, I later reneged on that as I did on agreeing to admit my real age. I simply don’t want to be that connected.

Obviously, this has proven unsuccessful in stopping the habits of social media from breaching my defences, infiltrating my mind and invading my psyche.

Research into the social lives of monkeys has shown that there is an upper limit to the number of monkeys in a group, within which they enjoy intimate knowledge of each other, above which social order crumbles and smaller groups are created. That limit is 50 monkeys.

For humans the “threshold of human organisation” limit is roughly 150 members. Given that social media allows one multiple times that interaction in a single tweet, who’s to say that, along with social order crumbling, you don’t lose a bit of your sanity along the way.

Having said that, I will not go down without a fight.

I figure that my imagination can beat anything social media has to offer, I just have to give it free rein.

From now on I will use hashtags in my daily speech patterns. For example: “Thanks for hashtag dinner, so nice to have hashtag good times with hashtag good friends, hashtag stuffed, hashtag too much salt, hashtag follow me, hashtag yabadabadoo”.

I will make regular public announcements to update those around me on my status. For example, I will stand up at a children’s birthday party and say “Sometimes I don’t understand why people bother having kids”.

I will take selfies in public and will then go around showing them to people demanding that they tell me they “like” them.

While out with friends I will not be spoken to directly. Communications can only happen via

WhatsApp, BBM, GChat, Skype or plain old SMS. Eye contact will not be tolerated.

When looking at your face I may feel the need to zoom in. This will involve me getting in your face, holding my thumb and index finger together and then spreading them apart repeatedly until the desired magnification is achieved.

Having developed the attention span of a goldfish, if we go out and you start to talk about a topic I’m not interested in I will want you to change it. This will be expressed by my tapping you in the middle of your forehead with my index finger, as we close down topics that are uninteresting until an interesting one is found. If none are found then I will walk away and that will be that.

Will these ideas work? Who knows. But starting to accept the above as valid ways of acting in public may save me from myself or give me a healthy nudge over the brink. Who’s in charge now? #Iamhostagetomybrainpleasehelpme

Su’ad Yousif is a civil servant based in Abu Dhabi