Monday, August 1, 2011

Social Media Break in August

I recently spent a few days in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, and had a great time with family and friends. While there I noted (not for the first time) that I wasn’t as connected to them as I’d like. Then on the drive home to Chicago, my husband and I were talking about how much time I spend on social media, which is easily accesible via my smart phone. We’ve agreed for a long time that I spend too much time on social media and not enough time on the face-to-face relationships in my life.

I’m not going to knock social media, after all, I’m a big fan. I love being able to connect with people I already know even though we’re miles apart, and I love meeting new friends online. I’ve developed some very deep friendships with people I only know online, or whom I first met online. Most of my time on social media these days is very shallow, however, and even my close online friends have been neglected.

Cutting back on social media has been a goal of mine for a while, and my husband also has a different goal he’s working on meeting (which I’m not going to detail here). So we agreed that we would each work on these things – for my part, I will be “fasting” from social media during the enire month of August.

I will not use:
Google Plus
Words With Friends
This blog (i.e. I won't be posting after today until September - hope you'll stick around!)
(or any of my other rarely-visited sites, like LinkedIn, Ravelry)

I will still:
Read some blogs
G-chat with co-workers
List items on Etsy
Participate in any online discussions for my Etsy team as I hold a responsibility to them
Respond to email
Text on my phone, but only to people, not to social sites (I texted to Twitter/Facebook before having a smart phone)

I decided to keep doing certain things like email and text because part of what I need to work on is connecting with the already established, solid friendships and family in my life. Instead of telling my friends or family the little things happening in my day, I’ve been telling Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Combine the number of people following me on those sites, and I’ve been sending thoughts, videos, questions out to 600-700 people . . . and losing touch with the 10-15 people who mean the most to me.

Another part of what I need to work on is feeling like every little thought I have must be broadcast to the world . . . and feeling disappointment during good parts of my life, because I can’t broadcast it. It’s one thing to enjoy watching your kid ride his new bike for his birthday, and it’s another to spend most of those moments of excitement and joy holding your phone up to try & get a good photo of him to share with the hundreds who follow you.

While I don’t think I’ve gone on a full social media fast before, I’ve done specific fasts for Lent and “just because” before – no Livejournal or no Facebook, for example. It was hard at first and then I got used to it. I expect this to be pretty difficult for me because I admit to getting a lot of validation from my various online worlds. Compliments on my humor, taste or perspective on life are major ego boosts and that’s going to be tough to let go, not to mention the fun of online interaction. I’m going to have to work on my impulse control, on being more mindful and intentional about how I spend my time.

Doing this doesn’t come without fear. I’m scared of failing – reading things I shouldn’t be reading, saying, “SCREW THIS!” and posting something somewhere. I’m scared that people I like will drop me because of my absence (and yes, I know that if they did that they’re weren’t really my friends – that is neither here nor there, it’s still a fear). I’m scared that when the month is over, I won’t be interested in maintaining those friendships. This will make me sad because, well, I like all of you. Additionally, I don’t want to have to tell someone, “I’m scaling back to those really important to me and you didn’t make the cut.” Most of all, I’m scared that eventually I’ll find myself in this same situation again. I suppose if that happens I’ll just need to try again. And if it happens again, I’ll need to try again. And again. I should probably not look at this as a one-time-fix-all sort of thing, rather a detox period that I need RIGHT NOW and that can be repeated in various ways in the future.

So – I’ll be gone during August, which will be a busy month for me anyway. I’ll see you in September and I guess we’ll see then how I did and what changes I made. If you need to get in touch with me, I’m at

Wish me luck!


J said...

It's tough, I agree! I've tried it for Lent and failed after about 20 days. All the best to you and enjoy the disconnect- it truly can be glorious. :) I may follow suit!

Mama Pea said...

Good luck! I'll still be your friend! :) I think what you're doing sounds like a great idea! I downgraded from smartphone to dumbphone (gasp!) last winter and it was hard for a few weeks, but now I'm so glad I did! My wallet is happier too :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I hope your time off helps you get perspective--sounds like a wise idea. But no Pinterest? You are HARD CORE, sister!

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