Monday, April 27, 2015

Unfriend Yourself by Kyle Tennant, 2012

We are all connected. To each other, to our devices, to our networks, to everything... The world of social media has turned the rest of our worlds upside down.Can you disconnect for three days to assess the situation in your own life? This short book is split into three sections to help you DETOX, DISCERN, and DECIDE what role Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and all the rest can and should have in your life. Unfriend Yourself will help you think critically, biblically, and practically from a Christian perspective about the merits and ramifications of our social media culture.
Don't worry, the world can wait; your friends won't even know you're gone-seriously, there are over half a billion of them out there. I doubt you'll be missed.
(96 pages)

This is meant to be a sort of devotional for someone who is untangling himself from social media for a weekend. The book is separated into an introduction, three chapters (one for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and an end note. You're supposed to read the book piece by piece and really take the time to absorb what it's saying.

I didn't. I'm really sorry, and I know this totally skews my ability to review the book. But you see, I don't have a social media problem. And I'm not just in denial, either - I honestly don't do that much on social media. The only platform I'm on is Twitter, and if you look at my newsfeed you'll see that most of my tweets are auto-tweets about new blog posts that Bloglovin does for me. The truth of the matter is that I can never seem to fully plug into social media for more than short periods of time, and I wind up forgetting all about it. Then I remember I'm supposed to be interacting and networking and all that jazz, so I hop back on only to have no idea what to tweet about. That's why my Twitter feed is full of auto-tweets and updates about my schoolwork. Sounds appealing, right?

So what was I thinking, requesting Unfriend Yourself? Honestly, I was curious. I wanted to understand the fascination with social media that grips almost everyone I know, and I wanted to see if I could pick up any tips for dealing with other addictions (no, not dangerous addictions - just silly time-wasters that destroy my entire weekends, like playing Trivia Crack and watching corny Disney TV shows on YouTube).

Did the book deliver? Meh. I guess so. It was mainly focused on villifying social media, debunking what Tennant called the "promises" offered by sites like Facebook. I guess I learned something about the mindset around the media culture, and he offered some valid points about "networking" versus "fellowship," but I think he comes across a bit too heavily in some of his criticisms of Facebook and social media as a whole. If I were actually someone who was in love with my Facebook news feed, then I would very quickly take offence at Tennant's attitude toward Facebook, decide that he was wrong, and put the book down for good. As it is, I stayed to the end and picked up a few good points about the value of face time over screen time. Even as a late '90s kid who grew up alongside the internet, I can still see the importance of putting down the smart device, closing the computer, and getting together in person with people instead. A very large portion of my life takes place online, and though I have no qualms about continuing to operate on this level I am definitely motivated to spend more time with my friends and family irl.

Are you addicted to social media? Then this might be the book to get you stepping back and taking a critical look at how that might be harming you. The time investment Unfriend Yourself requires is minimal, and the results could be lifechanging. Even if they're not, the excercise of removing yourself from social media for a weekend is still a healthy one.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free review.

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