Last week, without any fanfare or farewell, I took a short break from all Social Networking. This is what I found out:
1. I became aware of how much time I spend socially networking.
When I wake up in the mornings, I usually grab for my phone and sort through my notifications. I’ll swipe off the sales emails and spam and usually open my gmail to see what’s come through on my KnowLiveShare account. Then, (and all this happens within about 60 seconds) I open Facebook to see what’s happening.
Statistics shows that the “average” Facebook user who access the site on a smartphones will check in about 14 times a day.
I’m probably AT LEAST that. I have a Facebook widget right on my homepage screen and, along with email, I open it often and keep it active throughout the day.
Not checking in wasn’t too difficult a habit to break–it actually took me only few hours. I naturally default to clicking in, so I had to remind myself not to. Over the rest of the week, I was definitely aware that I wasn’t logging in, but it actually wasn’t too painful. (I also took a break from Twitter and Instagram—which I primarily use to post pics of the kids for our distant family).
So what did I do with all this extra time?
2. I was more attentive in face-to-face interactions.
Throughout this week, when I was in meetings with our staff, out in the public or engaging in spiritual friendship, I didn’t seem to have that same urge to be tracking responses to a post or pic that I put up. Because my notifications fell silent after a few days, I wasn’t getting prompted to quick check in to read comments or likes. I felt like I was able to be more present with those I was with.
For example, on Wednesday I was standing in line to get coffee and normally—like most of my fellow Americans—that’s a moment when I’d check my social nets. By not doing that, I wasn’t as distracted when it was my turn at the counter.
It felt like I was able to be more focused on the people who were in front of me, and maybe a bit more interested in hearing their stories, because I wasn’t distracted or already up on what they’ve been doing.
I started to think of social networking like simple carbs, or candy relationships. When I eat a lot of candy or sugars, I’m satiated, but I’m not really satisfied. So, when I had the chance to really experience a real meal, I was genuinely appreciative of live interaction.
3. I didn’t miss all the spam (Suggested Posts)
This might have been the thing that caused me to want to take a break. There was a huge increase on my newsfeed of “Suggested Posts.” (These were not the same as “Sponsored Likes,” which are paid ads from sponsors that my friends have liked before. So what you like, if sponsored, is shown to me. Apparently, I have a friend who has a thing for fine European leather goods.)
Suggested Posts are different than Sponsored Likes, and are not much more than “click bait” headlines that lead to weird stories or alluring pics (let’s just call those what they are: Suggestive Posts) that I was getting really tired of having to hide and block all of that.
I just don’t really care to see what Nikki Minaj wore to last night’s big event, no matter how SHOCKING it may have been!
4. I missed out on some pretty big events.
My dear sister & bro-in-law had their first baby. And it was a much-anticipated family event. Pics were posted all over Facebook and Instagram within seconds of the birth… And I didn’t see any of it.
It was only after a day or two when my wife said something about how cute the baby was, I had to glum, “I haven’t seen her yet.”
I texted my congrats instead, but, honestly, it felt a little bit like I was standing outside of the party.
Belated Congrats Laurie and Matt! She is a cutie!
5. No one seemed to notice that I was offline. 🙁
I don’t say that because I’m begging for your affirmation. I know that the social world does not hang on my participation.
I say that more to reflect how my ego can be inflated, especially when I put so much effort and energy into personal-branding. It’s very easy to get addicted to how many likes and comments a post receives and honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Personally, I appreciate my role on social media as a content generator. All of us who are on social media are part of the programming that make it fun. If we don’t post, then there’s nothing to look at!
Part of my vocational and personal wiring to produce content. When I post a personal observation, a picture or even check-in at local hole, I do so because I hope to make my friends social net experience that day a little more interesting and interactive.
I guess I hope that viagra every like is a way of them saying, “Thanks Simon for the laugh!” Or, “I hadn’t thought of that.” Or, “Hey! Cheap tacos with you does sound good right about now.”
Not that I expected that everyone’s online world would suddenly feel black and white without me, but I did learn a little more of effect or bi-product of a social media presence is that I maybe can think too much of myself.
There can be a lot of pride that builds up behind:
- Carefully edited selfies
- “I’m having a great time!” (While you’re still working) pics
- “Our kid just did something amazing!” stories
- Thought provoking shares
- Witty posts
I don’t think there’s any wrong with interacting with friends on one platform from many life stages and across the globe. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to share life’s good news with people you know. The way I see it, social media is sort of like (but not the same as) having a bunch of diverse people I know from different stages of my life over for a party.
Which, in reality, won’t happen until my funeral, I suppose…
So for now, I’m back! I think that the way I use social networking might change because of this little experience. And I may take more sabbaticals in the future. But for now, I’m excited to be back among my friends.