So, I recently wrote a book (Unfriending My Ex: And Other Things I'll Never Do) about my addiction to social media and my iPhone. Because of the slippery slope that social media (and texting) provided me in acting out my most dangerous and risky impulses, I found myself inspired to write a brutally honest memoir that I'd hoped my generation (and anyone who has ever felt the chainlike pull of their digital activity) might be able to relate to and thus gain some perspective on their own social media-led activity. I started off with a digital detox (no iPhone, no computer, no Wi-Fi, no DVR, no iPad... I only allowed myself a landline, which proved to be so retro and exciting I still have it today). The detox made me think about my digital fingerprint (#pun) differently but my addiction crept back up on me pretty quickly. I don't think my book solved anyone's addiction but I do think it created and enlivened a conversation and discourse about how we can start using social media instead of letting it use us. I hope it helped people unplug at least during some important moments in their lives, even if they remained eyes glued to their phone in others.
Here are six authors who might actually make you want to unplug:
Nnamdi Osuagwu, author of Facebook Addiction: The Life & Times of Social Networking Addicts
Everybody needs a little fiction in their life, though one might hypothesize that we may be only a few short years away from significant parts of this book becoming a reality. If we can't laugh at ourselves, what business do we really have laughing, right? Well, if you're addicted to social media, put yourself to the test by reading this book, which takes a very satiric look at the lives of twelve "social media addicts" who enter into rehab to fight their dependencies.
Randi Zuckerberg, author of Dot
OK fine, yes Randi is Mark's sister and yes, Dot is a children's book. But it's really good! Or maybe my social media addiction has decreased my attention span to the level that I can only now enjoy books written for six year olds. Either way, kind of have to love that Randi wrote this. It's about a young girl named Dot who discovers the joys of playing outside after her mother takes away her smart phone, tablet and computer. A six year old going through a detox is kind of an amazing concept but, more importantly, the book will certainly get you thinking about everything you are missing outside (and inside) while you glue your eyes to your digital devices.
William Powers, author of Hamlet's Blackberry
Ok, so the title alone tells you the book isn't exactly... up to date? I interviewed William when I was writing my book and I was always amazed at the elegance with which he describes his addiction and the impact it had on his home life and family. He delves deep into our psyches and talks about how evolutionary programming may be responsible for our addictions. We are wired by nature to pay attention to stimuli, which is something I talk about in my book as well. We can blame science! That dopamine rush is blamed for almost all addictions, so why not this one? While neither Powers nor I can fully blame our body's reaction to stimuli for some of the impulsive decisions our digital personas have made, we do lament the slippery slope social media provides us and our vulnerabilities.
If you're looking for inspiration, look no further than Baratunde Thurston whose trip away from the Internet for 25 days became a necessary break for him. He did things a little differently than I did. He allowed himself the Internet (I know what you're thinking: what a cop out but actually his reasoning was fair and simple: He likes the Internet; it doesn't detriment his every day life. What he needed a break from was the constant emailing and texting plaguing and interrupting his life every ten seconds. He also needed a break from the constant pressure of social media platform posting. He gave up tweeting, Instagramming, liking, tagging, commenting, bookmarking and as he calls it "re-anything-ing" (love that). Like me, Thurston talks about a sense of discovery and introspection that he gained from his detox. He discovered new places, books and people. I won't spoil the whole thing for you but if you want to read about Thurston's experience, he does a great job detailing it here.
Gemini Adams, author of The Facebook Diet
If you thought my book was a beach read, you're really going to have to strip down to your bikini for this one. It makes Unfriending My Ex look like a Faulkner novel. It's certainly the lightest on this list but just as impactful - and it will make you laugh too. The book includes 50 very funny cartoons that are "signs" that you are a Facebook addict. While Facebook is already being labeled as passé by some of its youngest users, there are ways you can relate the lessons and funny moments in this book to all of your favorite social media addictions.
Dave Eggers, author of The Circle
I've chosen a rather esoteric look into unplugging for the last book on this list. While Eggers doesn't cover a lot of the same topics that I do and doesn't delve into social media addiction the way the other authors do, The Circle has a way of making you take a step back from our interconnectedness and if you let his writing get to you, you're likely to just drop your phone on the floor and take a few steps back from it. The book explores the social construction (and deconstruction) of privacy and the effects that our information abounding on social media might later have on our freedoms and on the concept of democracy in general. It's a great (fictional) read and exploration into the life of a woman who takes a job working at a large social media corporation and all that is unveiled before her eyes as she lives her days there.