Life Musings

An unintended social media detox

1st of July 2018. New chapter, fresh start, fresh hope for the future and when I left the past firmly behind.

Soon as the Glasgow chapter began I noticed one important development – I subconsciously went into an unplanned social media detox on my private accounts. Until Christmas Eve.

“So what?” You might ask (and rightly so), especially when there are more pressing things to be concerned about.

Social media detoxes have been important for me despite not reaching the “posting my breakfast, lunch and supper” level. I did it for a week in 2016, two weeks in early 2017 and one month in late 2017.

I found out that life was vastly better without it.I’m not alone with seeing the implications of regular use. Many studies conducted over the last few years point to mental health side effects. University of Melbourne for example found signs of depression, anxiety and sleeping problems with regular social media use. Similarly with the University of Missouri.

CDC in the US claims that it possibly contributed towards the 25% increase in suicides since 1999.

Despite the unusually small sample size, University of Copenhagen’s research found that Facebook envy can develop through regular use.

Even the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement determined that for 14-24 year olds, out of five social media platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram). Instagram was the most negative influence for mental wellbeing – and contributing towards bullying.In their defense Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have implemented mental wellbeing features into their mobile apps.

Don’t get me wrong, social media, despite the flack it gets, has been equally a force for good. It built businesses and industries, made people famous and overthrown corrupt regimes.

Most importantly, it’s allowed us to connect beyond borders in a way never done previously.

All I’m saying is that like alcohol or fast food – in moderation – social media is fine. It’s more important to live in the present time and environment, especially when we don’t know if today is our last.

Maybe I should fish out the Nokia 1100 – I feel another detox coming on.

Feliz Año Nuevo, Frohes Neues Jahr, С новым годом, Happy New Year. I hope your 2019 will be loving, prosperous and memorable. More content will be coming to Hansen’s Corner during 2019. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to get the latest updates.

Life Musings

Tis’ the end of advent

Did you know that Advent Calendars are almost as old as the earliest cars?

There’s no firm date of when they began. Some say the first was made in Hamburg dating back to 1902 while others point to Gerhard Lang’s mother in late 19th century Germany. Sticking 24 tiny sweets into small holes on a piece of cardboard for her son to count the days down to Weihnachten (Christmas Eve).

Then the adult Gerhard Lang produced what is thought to be the first printed advent calendar in 1908, with 24 pictures marking each day from the 1st to Christmas Eve on the 24th of December.Later he even created doors for each day with a picture inside.

The concept then spread like wildfire.

In Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway they took the idea further in TV and radio programme form for children. Barnens Adventskalender for Swedish Radio in the late 50s and NRK’s Jul i Skomakergata made in 1979 are famous examples.

Here in the UK, the advent calendar switch was only flicked on in the late 1950s. However the chocolate fuse was lit by Cadbury’s in 1971 with the first chocolate advent calendar. The rest is sweet history, much like my tortured metaphors.

Nowadays it’s a staple for many before the perilous task of getting Christmas presents that won’t become household waste by Boxing Day. In recent years the door to a lucrative market segment of luxury advent calendars was opened.

You can get a wooden calendar with sweets from Fortnum and Masons (priced at £125); a calendar with 25 miniature Edinburgh Gins for £100; a £120 advent calendar by Wera containing screwdriver tools.

If that’s not luxurious enough then there’s a £10,000 advent calendar with rare whiskies (and that would get my vote) as well as Porsche’s advent calendar worth $1 MILLION including a yacht, kitchen and watch.

Some will claim today’s advent calendars as excessive, insane or even vulgar. Some will call it an example of “excessive commercialisation” like what Easter and Halloween have become. I would agree with them to an extent – much of the commercialisation surrounding Christmas distracts us from what Christmas is really about.

However many in the crowd that complain also seem to find it difficult to lighten up and have a bit of fun. Boy do we need it in today’s world.

For me, advent calendars are a fun way to count down the days to when you can become an excitable kid again. Whether it’s the Thorntons Snowman or Milky Way advent calendars I got as a child to the marvelous Lindt advent calendar I was given for this year.

It gets us to think about Christmas, feeds our chocolate addictions and it helps keep the chocolate and retail industries alive. Win-win for pretty much everyone.

Although, I’ve yet to open my advent calendar. Shameful waste of chocolate or a good way to overdose on chocolate in one day? You tell me.