No cat videos or keyboard warriors '“ Get Carter's 24 hours without social media

You've no doubt heard of Dry January, Movember and Stoptober - all month-long initiatives aimed to either improving health and/or raising money for charity.

Friday, 14th September 2018, 3:53 pm
Updated Friday, 14th September 2018, 5:03 pm
Simon sorely missed the Skeletor Twitter account during his social media ban

But hands up who knew this month has been designated Scroll Free September?

Thirty successive days with the aim, according to the Royal Society for Public Health, of staying off '˜toxic' social media.

If you're reading this via the link on The News' Facebook or Twitter feeds, I guess you're not taking part '¦

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Simon's cat Bugsy with a cucumber

Me neither. After all, how I could live with myself if I had missed all my friends' back to school pictures of their kids?

However, I did have a Scroll Free September Day. Twenty four hours without social media. This is how I got on ...

7.15am Alarm goes off. The alarm is on my mobile phone so my main vehicle to access social media (outside of the office) is in my hand straight away.

7.16am About to click my Facebook app when realisation quickly strikes that today is the start of my day-long break from tweets and postings. Instantly, I'm a tad relieved that, if I get any invitations to play Candy Crash via FB, I will not be able to utter my favoured profanity when I see them.

Another one of terrible jokes Simon Carter missed on social media by having a Scroll-Free Day

7.46am Despite a few cups of coffee, I'm feeling sad that I won't able to take one of the nonsense personality quizzes lots of people seem to like posting on FB.

I recently took a Which Sound Best Matches Your Personality quiz. Okay, I was bored. After answering an eclectic series of questions '“ including picking my favourite picture containing something purple (a berry smoothie), saying whether I would go and live in a space station (yes '“ certainly if there were no ridiculous Buzzfeed quizzes up there), and choosing which way I prefer to eat potatoes (Chips. Or, if I was a hipster, skin-on fries) '“ apparently my sound is Crashing Waves On A Beach.

This is what it said about my personality: 'It is soothing, fuzzy, repetitive. Sometimes the waves are small. Sometimes they're HUGE.'  Total guff indeed.

What kind of person are you if you have a 'fuzzy' personality anyway?

A while ago I took the Which Film Star Would Play You In The Film Of Your Life quiz.

The answer was Jayne Mansfield, which confused me no end as she is a woman and I am a man.

Noticing that my 'wacky' FB profile pic at the time was a nostalgia shot taken when I was 18 and with hair Jon Bon Jovi would have given the thumbs up to in the mid 1980s, I eventually presumed the algorithm that works out this gibberish thought I was female ...

9.32am Now at work and wondering how I will survive the day without reading any tweets from the Grumpy Skeletor parody account, one of the funniest things on Twitter.

Sample tweet: 'I've been chased by comets and massive reptiles, thrown into moats and billboards, fired into a distant star on a firework and even once froze myself by accident with my own freeze ray. On the bright side, however, at least I'm not being associated with UKIP.'

Skeletor also regularly abuses his arch rival He-Man, fails to capture Castle Greyskull on a weekly basis, and has a pathological hatred of Mrs Brown's Boys.

When asked on Twitter why he had a skull for a face, he replied: 'Watched three minute's of Mrs Brown's Boys. So angry with myself I had to dunk my head in a vat of acid.'

10.50am Quite miserable now as I know I won't see any cats doing stupid things on FB until tomorrow. A compilation video of felines being scared by cucumbers secretly placed behind them went viral a few years ago.

Keen to upload my own hilarious clip to social media, I quietly placed a large gourd behind Bugsy while he was having his tea. On finishing, he turned round, took one look at the cucumber, didn't jump two foot in the air '“ didn't jump at all, in fact '“ shot me a filthy, contemptuous look as if to say 'you really are a total imbecile' and walked casually off to have another lengthy snooze.

1.45pm One advantage of not going on social media today is I won't have to read any of my mate Martin McConachie's horrendous jokes.

Three recent examples of his 'humour' ...

1) Andrew Lloyd-Webber went into a Burger King. He said to the assistant;

'˜Could I have two whoppers please?'

She said, '˜Certainly sir. You're very handsome and your music is really good.'

2) My pet budgie broke its leg so I made a little splint out of matches.

Should have seen his little face light up when he tried to walk.

3) Walked past a farm and saw a notice that read '˜duck, eggs'.

I was just telling my mate about the unnecessary comma when I found myself covered in yolk.

See what I mean ...

2.38pm  My mind is wandering. 'Just think,' I tell myself. 'How many social media postings with links to music charts I totally disagree with will I miss today?'

Only last week, a link directed me to Billboard's 100 Hottest Songs Of All Time. I only clicked on it because I was intrigued at how many Transvision Vamp songs would be in the list.

Given absolutely no information as to the thought processes behind how this 'chart' was compiled, No 8 was Physical by Olivia Newton-John and No 11 was We Belong Together by Mariah Carey. No 1, if you're interested '“ and in fairness you're probably not '“ was The Twist by Chubby Checker. Adding to my disgust that a Mariah Carey song was so high up, there were no Transvision Vamp songs anywhere to be seen either.

3.50pm A thought occurs to me. 'I wonder how many very angry people are on social media today, being very angry with other people?'

It has never been easier for keyboard warriors to have a go at someone else for voicing an opinion, and lots of them do. At very regular intervals as well.

One classic example was on The News' own website a few weeks ago with our Dish Detective's review of the new Five Guys burger joint at Gunwharf.

For their three out of five stars review, and a less than impressive verdict on his burger, the DD was called both a 'w*****' and another four-letter word you will never see in a family newspaper (or even the Sunday Sport). Just for stating his opinion about a piece of food!

There is obviously nothing wrong with voicing an alternative view, but the levels of vitriol and name-calling can be phenomenal. Thanks to social media, taking part in a constructive debate has never been easier. But thanks to social media, it has also never been harder thanks to the angry mob '“ unless, of course, they agree with your view ...

4.20pm Never under-estimate some members of the general public's ability to post ridiculous comments either. Again, social media regularly provides wonderful examples.

On this very site last weekend, on the story about a chemical being sprayed in someone's face at a McDonald's restaurant in Portsmouth, someone posted '˜was it a Mcspray?'. Words don't often fail me but, with regards to reading social media comments, they often do. Some are senseless, some are vindictive, some spectacularly dimwitted. And sometimes you get all three on the same story.

6.45pm It's been a tiring day not reading any social media postings from Angry Tweets (@HereditaryRage). They always raise a smile. Sample tweets:

1) I'm sorry I hurt your feelings when I called you stupid. I honestly thought you already knew. 2) Life's hard. It's harder if you're stupid. 3) I think the '˜People you may know' section on Facebook should be changed to '˜People I am deliberately not friends with.'

8.39pm A friend texts me to ask if I'd seen the '16 Professions That Are Dying Out' list that he'd kindly sent to me on FB.

'Newspaper reporters are there,' he needlessly added for good measure. I wasn't surprised. Don't laugh if you're a floral designer, middle manager, estate agent, telephone switchboard operator, door-to-door salesperson and detective '“ you're also on the list (I looked it up once my 24-hour sabbatical was over). 'I'm a newspaper columnist, not a newspaper reporter,' I moodily texted back.

9.26pm Thinking what a different beast social media would be if everyone followed the postings of the Psychology Living Twitter feed.

Sample tweets:

1) Your mood should never dictate your manners. It doesn't matter how angry, upset, or sad you are. Always be respectful and polite to others.

2) Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything. 3) Maturity is when you keep your mouth shut when you want to say something mean to someone. Only people at peace with themselves can do this.

It would be interesting to see how many keyboard warriors could ever live by those scriptures.

For 24 minutes, let alone 24 hours. Let alone an entire month ...