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Why I want a digital-free Sunday: Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

By Randi Zuckerberg | PUBLISHED: 10, Nov 2013, 13:17 pm IST | UPDATED: 19, Aug 2015, 17:50 pm IST

Why I want a digital-free Sunday: Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg There are millions of people around the world who, although daily users of social media to improve their lives, feel overwhelmed, insecure, and confused about how these technologies are changing their friendships, their families, and their careers.

Even I - one of the first people to work for Facebook after it was set up by  my brother Mark –  have had difficulty balancing ‘tech’ and ‘non-tech’ moments.

As an entrepreneur, travelling the world while trying to stay connected to my family, my friends and my team, I reached a point when rather than owning a computer, a phone and a tablet, the devices were owning me.

I felt so much pressure to be always ‘on’, always connected, that by the time I looked up, a year later, I had been to 25  countries, made hundreds of friends and business contacts, built a production studio and launched a business.

But I had forgotten to actually live my life without a device attached to my hand. Even though I love my phone and tablet, our shiny, beeping gadgets are competing with our loved ones for attention.

I had forgotten how to just unplug and enjoy the company of those around me. I had forgotten how to be present in the moment.

It’s not surprising, then, that some people are taking a ‘digital Sabbath’ on Saturday or Sunday. I believe in it. If we want to make time with our families important, this may be a nice thing to try.

Perhaps we could make a point to ‘go out alone’ as a family for dinner one night, and leave everyone’s phone at home before getting into the car.

Most problems of modern friendships online can be traced back to the problems of a poor tech/life balance.

When people build up expectations of their friends’ actions offline or online - and those expectations aren’t met - that’s when disagreements, resentments, and hurt feelings start.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a friend you usually text, maybe it’s time for some actual face time. If Instagram is the modern equivalent of sending a postcard – well, you wouldn’t spend your entire vacation writing postcards, would you?

For people you’re really close to, a birthday wall post that reads ‘Happy birthday!!!’ isn’t going to cut it, even if you use three exclamation marks. Pick up the phone and make a call. Let them know you care.

My husband Brent proposed to me on a beautiful Valentine’s Day evening in 2007 at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California. After the initial enthusiasm, tears, surprise and shock, I decided it was time to make some phone calls.

We quickly made a mental list of everyone in our lives who would be supremely offended if they found out about our engagement via only a Facebook post and not directly from us.

Luckily, Brent had been super sneaky and had already given a heads-up to my family and our close friends so the list of people we had to call was pretty short. The next step was to post the ‘ring shot’ on Facebook.

But then I put the phone away for the rest of the night and didn’t check it again until late the following day. I wanted us to really enjoy our time together and the start of this new chapter in our lives by giving each other our undivided attention.

In the early days of Facebook, when everyone in the company was not only a co-worker but also an online ‘friend’ of everyone else, a few of us went on a fun-filled trip.

Upon returning, I was confronted by a colleague who had seen the posts about our trip and demanded to know, through stifled tears, why she hadn’t been asked to come along.

I didn’t have a good answer. Nobody had excluded her; it was just that this excursion was thrown together at the last minute. I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. I wasn’t even in charge of the guest list.

But she felt sensitive about being left out, and seeing all the photos of her friends having fun without her made her feel jealous and unhappy. Sometimes the best aspects of being connected are also the aspects that are hardest to stomach.

This new phenomenon, which has accompanied the rise of social media, has an acronym: FOMO, which stands for ‘fear of missing out’.

FOMO refers to the feelings of jealousy and inadequacy experienced upon seeing the impossibly awesome lives of your friends, and studies have shown that this is a real thing. It’s easy to hide behind a screen, a text message, a photo, an email.

The hard part is truly getting out there and living your life, being true to yourself and connecting with others.

Technology has shown us a new world. But there’s work to be done.

Work hard. Play hard. Post hard. Tweet hard. But, most importantly, live hard.

# Sourrce: The Daily Mail. Dot Complicated by Randi Zuckerberg, the former Facebook marketing executive, is published on November 7 by Bantam Press, £16.99. To order your copy at the special price of £13.99 with free p&p call The Mail Bookstore on 0844 472 4157 or  go to