O'Really?

December 20, 2018

Dry January: Can you switch off all your social media for a month? #DigitalDetox

socialmedia

Dry January: can you abstain from toxins like alcohol and social media for a month?

Here in the UK, there is an annual tradition known as Dry January. It’s pretty simple, in the wake of all the festive indulgence (🍻), around 4 million people voluntarily abstain from alcohol for the month of January. Why? Because they can save money, sleep better, lose weight [1] and even raise money for charity in the process. If you haven’t tried it yet, Dry January is an enlightening (and enlivening) challenge.

But dry January needn’t just stop at alcohol. Other toxic social lubricants are also available. Have you ever wondered what life would be like without the distraction of social media? Ever tried going without? Go dry by switching off all your social media for a month – just to see what happens. Is social media as toxic as alcohol? Could going cold turkey (🦃) for a month be beneficial to your health and those around you? Switch it all off, meaning:

  • No LinkedIn
  • No Facebook
  • No WhatsApp
  • No Instagram
  • No Twitter
  • No Blogging
  • No “voluntary panopticon
  • No [insert your favourite social media here]. How far you take it will depend on how you choose to define social media…

Abstention requires a bit of planning and preparation, but if you tell your friends now, you could experiment with switching off all your social media for the month of January. Will you be able to handle the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) [2]? Will your quality of life improve?

The idea of digital detox has been around a while and there are several ways of doing it. You can either go the whole hog like Jaron Lanier and just delete everything [3]. If that’s too drastic for you, try using blockers or timers set to zero minutes. Since the most toxic forms of social media are typically found on smartphones, there’s a few options for detoxing:

Abstaining from alcohol can be beneficial for your physical and mental health. [2] Abstaining from social media could probably help too. Why not give it a whirl and see for yourself?

As this is last (and first!) post here for 2018, have yourselves a happy winterval and a healthy new year in 2019.

References

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_missing_out
    2. De Visser, R.O., Robinson, E. & Bond, R., (2016) Voluntary temporary abstinence from alcohol during “Dry January” and subsequent alcohol use. Health Psychology, 35(3), pp.281–289. DOI:10.1037/hea0000297
    3. Lanier, Jaron (2018) Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Bodley Head, ISBN: 978-1847925398 jaronlanier.com/tenarguments.html

 

April 28, 2011

Are machines taking over the planet?

TastyTalk of machines taking over the planet is the stuff of science fiction but if world domination was just a simple numbers game, some machines have already “taken over” from their human masters.

One machine, the particular brand of computer processor found inside all iPhones and lots of other electronic devices, has been quietly spreading around the globe at a phenomenal rate. There are some interesting statistics on just how many of these processors are out there published in an interview with engineer Steve Furber [1]. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

“Around the end of 2007, the ten-thousand-millionth ARM [Advanced RISC Machine] had been shipped, so there are more ARMs than people on the planet. I believe production is currently running at about 10 million a day. It is projected to rise to about one per person on the planet per year within two or three years”.

Those numbers highlighted in bold (emphasis mine) are completely mind-boggling. As humans, we are outnumbered by just one brand of machine! Of course, they are just lots of “dumb” computer chips with no intelligence. But Furber suspects that:

“there’s more ARM computing power on the planet than everything else ever made put together” [1]

So if you could find a way of using all these processors at once, maybe they’d become magically self-aware in a neural network [2,3,4,5]? Cue ominous Terminator theme tune

References

  1. Jason Fitzpatrick (2011). An interview with Steve Furber Communications of the ACM, 54 (5) DOI: 10.1145/1941487.1941501 (since 2007, numbers have risen to 10 billion in 2008 an another one billion in the first quarter of 2011 alone!)
  2. Steve Furber (2011). Biologically-Inspired Massively-Parallel Architectures: A Reconfigurable Neural Modelling Platform Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 6578 (2) DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-19475-7_2
  3. Steve Furber, & Steve Temple (2008). Studies in Computational Intelligence Computational Intelligence: A Compendium, 115, 763-796 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-78293-3_18
  4. An estimated one million ARM processors give you about 1% of the capacity of the human brain see the details of the Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker) project
  5. James Cameron, et al (1991) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2)

[Creative commons licensed picture of Terminator terror by Tasty by cszar]

March 11, 2011

Drop the Digital Dummy!

Pacifier anyone?Here is an experiment to investigate dependence on your “digital dummy”. A digital dummy is any computer, smartphone or other digital device on which you suckle data like a baby. What you need to do is:

  1. Delete all your so-called “social networks” on LinkedIn, Facebook etc. Being sat in front of a computer is distinctly unsociable.
  2. Delete your twitter account.
  3. Don’t bother reading your email (90% of email is useless noise).
  4. Blast your blog into oblivion.
  5. Ignore your feed reader, or “mark all items as read” because if Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) actually exists and you are a sufferer [1], the currently best known cure is to go cold turkey.

After completing all these steps, wait for at least one week and observe results. Hasn’t it gone quiet?  Is your life any better? Repeat as necessary until sanity returns…

References

  1. Flisher, C. (2010). Getting plugged in: An overview of Internet addiction Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 46 (10), 557-559 DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2010.01879.x

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