social media detox

Opinion | Look up from Your Phone on Your Next Commute

I just uploaded a selfie onto Instagram, complete with a sophisticated quote, imperceptibly blurred, and some contrast to underline the color of my eyes.

Now I’m waiting. Waiting for that like. Mr. Serious must have seen it, 30 minutes have passed already. But no like, yet. I mean, I got 32 likes, but none of them counts. I want that one.

It’s the social media anxiety that forces me to share my face with a “beauty effect” in the morning; to like dozens of “Viennabestcity” pages just to get my follower number to 500; to assume that I’m flirting with someone who likes my old pro le pictures; and to share a live video of the OSCE conference I’m attending to prove that my career is moving forward. And, damn, you should like me!

Vienna is obsessed with that “thumbs up” button. Well, at least young people are. People walk through the city like zombies, eyes glued to their smartphone screens, checking their like scores while drinking coffee at Hawelka, or texting all the way on the U-Bahn from Gasometer to Westbahnhof.

A few days ago, I left my phone at home. Looking about aimlessly, I spotted a guy entering the U-Bahn with a gigantic red heart balloon. I was sitting next to twin kids who were playing with their scarves and laughing with their mom, looking at their reflection in the window. At the next station, they bustled off the train in their swollen winter jackets. I turned my face to an old man who smiled at me. He saw the same scene and wanted to share his happiness with me, right in that moment.

Isn’t this better than a like?

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