Reading is one of my favourite ways to wind down and relax. I find that it takes you into a whole new mindset, and allows you to escape reality a little bit. Typically, I read the stereotypical ‘boy meets girl’, ‘predictable’ sort of genre, because it’s an easy read, it’s happy and cheerful [mostly] and if I’m honest, I’m a total romantic, and I love reading about all of the different ways two people can fall in love.
However, my latest read, although being within this rom-com sort of genre, had it’s own unique twist; and it was a twist that ended up having a lasting impact on my perception of my own life, and of society around me in general. After reading it practically cover to cover in only 2 or 3 days, I took a step back and felt almost perplexed at the impact just one book had on me.
For those who haven’t read it, here’s the author’s description:
“Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. A marketing manager by day, she tweets her friends, instagrams every meal and arranges (frankly, appalling) dates on Tinder. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall. Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy’s problems – a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria, that she just happens to need help doing up. Soon, too, Daisy finds herself with two welcome distractions: sexy French exchange-help Jean-Marie, and Jack, the brusque and rugged man-next-door, who keeps accidentally rescuing her. But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone?”
Let me tell you how this book has changed my life. The millenials among us live our entire lives through social media – it is no longer a series of platforms to allow us to be social; it has become the basic foundation of not only our social lives, but our careers, relationships, education, etc; so much so that we actually rely on it to function more than we think we do. In many ways, we have lost touch of who we are as individuals – we have an online presence, and that’s about it. We conform into an image that we have painted of ourselves with selfies, bio descriptions and instagram captions. It’s very rare that people’s first impressions of us are our actual appearance and personality in a face-to-face conversation. It Started With a Tweet almost brought be back to the present, and made me aware of the way technology is changing our lives.
‘The age of social media’.
In some ways, I think all 20-somethings can relate to this perspective of our generation. This book is likely to be relatable to almost anybody – tweeting several times a day, instagramming and snapchatting our meals, cocktails and selfies; and creating relationships based on the appearance of another through an app on our phone screens. It has reached the point where it is almost perceived to be normal, to go out for a meal with a group of friends and all be sat staring at our phone screens rather than conversing. “Did you see what so-and-so posted on Instagram?” “Look who I matched with on Tinder!” “You’ll never guess who added me on Snapchat last night!” I’ve got to be honest, it’s exhausting. We’re so obsessed with the world within our phones that we don’t actually have anything else to talk about. Towards the end of the book, Daisy had this similar realisation. She went back to her old London, city life and met with her best friends, to notice that they had their head stuck in their phones, and had nothing more to talk about. It was extremely relatable – you almost feel out of place if your phone isn’t in your hand.
Are detoxes from social media really necessary?
In some ways, it makes you realise if it’s actually becoming an addiction. In the book, we discover how disastrously Daisy relies on her phone. It’s clear that the situation is a borderline obsession, as we treat our phones as if they are as important to us as one of our own limbs. We literally live our entire lives through a lens rather than experiencing it with our own eyes. Is this enough to be classed as an addiction? Realistically, how many of us would be able to cope 2 weeks without it like Daisy did? This book highlights the extent of what this addiction has become. We spend our lives glued to our phones, comparing and dreaming and wishing – but never actually doing anything about it. Comparing ourselves to others in this way can have such a huge impact on our emotional wellbeing, so much so that we lose ourselves as a result. We become so focused on what everyone else is doing, and how successful and happy everyone else is, that it has a damaging influence on our perceptions of ourselves.
Confronts a modern day issue.
In many ways, it could therefore be argued that Anna Bell in ‘It Started With a Tweet’ confronts a serious modern day issue. When I first started reading the book, I never imagined the deeper meaning it would bring alongside it. It emphasises how un-present we are. We’re too busy documenting our lives than actually living in it and enjoying it. We’re merely existing, and not living our lives to the fullest impact. I guess in some ways, it’s not surprising that so many of us have lower moods, lower self-confidence and lack basic communication skills. The world might be evolving but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s moving forward for the better. I don’t know about you, but my nan is always telling me about how technology is going to end up causing us problems as a generation, and in some ways this book has made me realise how right she has always been. It’s hard to have a conversation with someone when you know they’re scrolling instead of listening. It’s hard to serve somebody in a shop or restaurant and they’re on their phones instead of making human contact. It’s hard to just be unapologetically yourself without feeling like every judgmental eye is sneering in your direction.
The lack of mindfulness of millenials.
In the book, even when Daisy was on a date, she wasn’t actually present. Her mind was occupied by what was happening in the world inside her phone, and all she wanted to do was take a photo of her cocktail rather than engage in actual conversation with the guy she had just met. It emphasises how we don’t take anything in our lives all that seriously, as we are instead thinking about how others perceive us and what’s going on around us rather than what is in front of us. Mindfulness is considered as something profoundly religious, and for that reason many 20-somethings tend to avoid the word and anything that comes with it. However, mindfulness is the art of simply being completely in the moment – listening to everything around you and focusing on your senses and current emotions. With technology and social media, we are often doing 2, or if not several, things at once, meaning we are very rarely present and in the moment – even when simply brushing our teeth.
A distraction more than an aid?
The way technology has evolved, it was believed that it would be a life-changing development that would aid all areas of our lives for the better. But in reality, it is often more of a distraction than an aid. This is proven by Anna, who writes so perfectly about how we’re never totally present and in the moment enough to actually value our own life. We sit safely in our comfort zone, believing this is exactly where we’re supposed to be, and not looking outside of our phones for what, or who, we truly need in our lives. Maybe I’m being a bit hypocritical here because I’m here blogging and relying on social media in order to write, but there are many ways it can go too far. When was the last time you sat and simply watched a film, without scrolling through your phone or looking something up on the internet or answering an email? When was the last time you drove without listening to the radio or music, or talking to someone on hands-free? My first guess would be that you can’t remember, and if anything, that just emphasises how we are too often multi-tasking, and too rarely living in the moment.
Is a bit of fresh air all we need?
Anna describes the tranquility of the countryside perfectly in ‘It Started With a Tweet’. As somebody who actually lives in the country, it isn’t too difficult to picture the sort of views and fresh air that she describes, and so maybe that’s something that I take for granted. However, the book makes you wonder if breathing a fresher air can help you to be more present in life. There is something about walking through green fields and mountainous hills that makes you want to put down your phone for a minute, and just take in your surroundings. I urge you to try taking a break from your phone and taking a walk without it; noticing the nature, the sounds, the smells, and everything that is going on in the present moment.
Have you read it yet? Let me tell you, if you haven’t, you are really missing out! If you’re ready for a change of perspective, you can buy the book here!