Since September 1st, many changes have taken place for me, but one of the bigger ones was that I decided to take a social media vacation during September.
I did this to see where I wanted to go with my online identity and to take a close look at how I used social media.
No, this didn’t mean that I went completely cold turkey from all forms of social media, but it did mean that participating in all the various forms of social media, went from being what I considered was my job and a major part of my life, to something less important, much less important.
During this time I have purposely deleted social media accounts, pages, groups, communities, logged out of and stopped participating in many forms of social media.
Also I turned off all social media notifications on my devices, which had caused me to act like Pavlov’s dog – automatically clicking on a pop-up to see what was going on or stop what I was doing and pull-out my phone.
Looking back, I know that I needed to do this – badly. It seemed that I was participating in some form of social media, just about all the time. Over the past 18 months it got to be too much.
So what did I do?
I deleted as many of the social media apps off my phone as I could and logged out of those that I couldn’t delete. What a difference that has made! At first it was hard – there were no beeps or buzzes happening, in other words I was out of the loop on stuff that was happening online. I kept reaching for my phone to check what was going on in the world of social media and couldn’t – easily or quickly.
However, as the weeks went by, I found that I didn’t care about what I was missing online and was more in the moment of my real life, wherever I was and whoever I was with.
My phone has gone back to being primarily a phone again. Yes, I also use it as a camera, music player, GPS device, along with checking my email way too much (I haven’t done away with email on the phone, but I am getting closer).
In other words my phone is no longer my social media hub.
I started using full screen more often, in the past, I usually had Twitter maximized and whatever program I was using minimized to show one column of the TweetDeck feed
By having my screen setup this way, I was able to keep up with my Twitter feed, but constantly found myself interrupted by reading too many Tweets, breaking news or clicking on links to read and then charging down that rabbit hole. It meant that I was not focusing on what I was working on, which made getting things I wanted done – done poorly or taking a lot longer to get them done.
Social media notifications are gone.
All social media software not related to my Blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ — deleted.
For almost 2 years I had pretty much blogged everyday and attempted to write a article post 4-5 times a week, mainly to keep my stats/page views at higher levels to meet my social media marketing goals. Looking back, some of my article posts were pretty damn lame.
Over the past month, I didn’t worry about it, I missed several running log posts, a couple of weekly summaries and had very few article posts during September.
I stopped worrying that I HAD to post all the time, to keep my page view numbers up and just posted when I wanted to or had something that I wanted to share.
It felt good
Twitter and TweetDeck are my social media apps/software of choice. I like the quick conversations and how you learn things going on before the “news” has them. However, for a long time I was getting involved in far too many Twitter chats (sometimes 2-3 a day), had TweetDeck open full-screen with over 20 columns of #hashtags that I was “keeping track of”. This along with all the different links that I tend to click on, which took away from me focusing on what I wanted to get done.
Looking back having Twitter open most of the time was distracting to whatever I was attempting to accomplish and a time-suck that provided me with countless rabbit holes to go down and investigate…but hey, I was a part of the grand illusion – I was being part of the conversation and always knew what was going on.
Facebook became just another arm of social media marketing, something I had to have and had so many “friends” I had never met face-to-face primarily for business purposes, not personal.
I had a page for each of my blogs, was part of 8 Facebook groups, was attempting to keep up with all of them, social media marketing groups and a lot of the people I have met over the past few years, in addition to my family and friends.
Facebook was something that I originally and still really do not like or trust to do the right thing for the people who choose to use this service, but it was a necessary part of what I was doing. The big difference is now that I don’t have to use Facebook for anything that I don’t want to and don’t, I don’t have to work to increase the number of people who like me or my pages, just to have better numbers.
I have gotten down to 3 groups, 1 page to manage (Team RWB-Maine) and pretty much limit Facebook to “friends”, people I have met, worked with or family. Yes I still check the timeline a few times a day, but not nearly as much as I used to do. Which meant that I unfriended many who I do not know and only friended for business purposes, sorry about that, but I needed to regain control of my timeline again,
The forgotten social media app, I use it primarily for photo storage (I had all of my photos in Picassa before Google+), auto upload of photos from my phone and to check on how one or two groups are doing. Like Facebook I got rid of all the private pages and will be going through and “unfriending” those that I don’t really know beyond them being a name..
The truth is that I often forget to go there, because I really don’t have too many people who are very active on it.
What has been the result of these changes?
I don’t feel the constant pressure to always be a part of the conversation or “in the know”. Now if I get involved cool, but if I don’t it is not a big deal.
I only take part in 1 or 2 Twitter chats a week and then only if I feel like it, I don’t feel obligated or that I have to do them.
My phone or even my computer are not always buzzing or beeping to let me know that someone “talked” with me on one of the social media apps and I don’t immediately stop whatever I am doing to see who is “talking” to me.
More time to focus on other things that I didn’t do nearly as much: read a book, play computer games, talk with TheWife, actually watch a show on TV or a game (versus having the TV on in the background and doing social media).
I just feel that I have more time and am less busy.
The reality is that
I found participating in social media very addicting, the constant rush that someone would take the time to respond to something I wrote was very cool. The ability to have conversations with someone, anywhere in the world was a big deal and I looked forward to the next comment, Like, Tweet or whatever the response is called for that social media app and felt like shit, when no one responded to my “Pearls of Wisdom” or post pontificating on how much I know about … well about whatever the hell I was yakking about.
The first couple of weeks of this social media vacation was a lot like going through withdrawal. In fact I believe that social media is a form of addiction and so do a lot of other people and what I experienced was a form of withdrawal.
Yes, it was hard for me to turn-off all my notifications, delete a lot of the social media apps off my computer or phone, logout of most of them and then not have that constant stream of buzzing and beeping notifying me that someone was listening or reading what I was saying.
I really do not think that people need to know where I am, what I am eating or much of the other useless pieces of information that so many of us share on social media – that tell so much about ourselves to those that own those apps that we use to share our personal info.
The further I move away from the incessant noise of social media, away from constantly sharing and communicating using social media, the more I realize how much time I spent doing it and how much of my privacy, I voluntarily surrendered to the world and whoever wanted to have it. Which is not always a good thing.
Am I now anti-social media?
I plan to keep social media a part of my life, but to use it to enrich and empower it, not take it over. Social media are simply tools that we can use to communicate with one another and I can use them the way that I want, not the way that others want me to.
Social media has empowered the “little guys” out here to show that they are knowledgeable and have something to give back to their communities, provided the ability too communicate with others who have similar interests, allow more opinions to be heard and made the big media outlets, less powerful and taken away their ability completely to censor what we read, hear or see.
It doesn’t mean that all of what is passed is factually based or even good information, but it has allowed more and different information to reach more people than the limited and biased mass media information that is doled out to John Q. Public.
What have I accomplished?
My social media vacation has accomplished a lot:
- It made me stop and look at what I really want social media to be in my life and
- How I plan to use these tools in the future,
- Looked at how I view my privacy – not that there is any if you decide be online very much
I enjoy blogging, reading and commenting on blogs, keeping up with people I know on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, but as far as letting social media taking over my life, as I chose to let it over the past couple of years, ain’t happening.
I have a feeling that my social media participation might just stay right about where it is now, it just feels comfortable and about the right level for me moving forward.
Social media are simply a set of electronic tools that I will use to communicate with others, but it is not my life and is no longer a part of my job. Therefore, I will choose how I use these tools and enjoy my full and great life beyond these little electronic boxes.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded – I have been.