Yes, yes Red Dwarf X is coming to Dave in October and yes, Dave is running each previous series in a countdown-style build up but the title of this piece is about breaking free of social media.
Just like the addictive computer game, Better Than Life, social media sites like Twitter and to a lesser degree, Facebook have been keeping me nicely doped up while all around me goes to hell or if not hell, at least Channel 5. It's so addictive the lawn can be growing around my feet, the two year old is making his own lunch and the police are breaking down the front door after a neighbour grew concerned at the pile of letters mounting up on the front door mat.
The greatest trick the little social media devil ever played was convincing the world they weren't wasting their time. They were 'networking'. They were developing their editing skills, writing snappy little one-liners. Creative people being creative for free, and slowly but surely being sold things by the same methods. And yet I keep going back for more, like a crack-addled Gollum, gazing lovingly into the little blackberry screen while dust collects on my bookshelf.
But what is life like without Twitter of Facebook? Is it a cold blizzard-ridden wasteland, like the one Lister and Rimmer found themselves Marooned on, with nary a hashtag game to keep the madness at bay, and no nourishment save a tin of dog food? No. But, like Rimmer's desire to leave the humdrum Red Dwarf and all its dull, every day tasks, to seek adventure with the crew of the Holographic ship, Enlightenment, social networking does offer an escape. It can elevate your status, however artificially, it can whisper in your ear, 'hey you're a funny guy. You keep on tweeting jokes like these, and I can see big things in your future.' And then one day the voices that you keep hearing in the distance, those tinny, annoying little voices that seem so familiar that you keep ignoring because you've got jokes to write, start punching through the walls of your alternate existence. The voice of your wife, the voices of your kids, saying 'daddy, why are you always playing with your phone?' and finally, finally you can see it the way they do. Play. You're not doing anything important, you're just playing.
Then you know what to do. You go through all the checks, switching on the laptop, signing in, opening the browser, logging into Twitter, all the time your brain is screaming, 'don't do it! It's death!' like in Future Echoes, Lister presses the switch that he's been foretold holds his doom, and...
Nothing. Sweet silence. Birdsong. A rainbow. Okay not a rainbow, but not death, not the end of the world. Just back to reality.
Red Dwarf X begins on 4 October on Dave.