Turn around and face the wall! Look at it.
Which wall you ask? It’s the one right in front of you that you’ve been building for the last few years.
I wondered, “What would I miss if I stopped using them?”
Day one was nothing like I expected. I figured that I could remain away with ease. That was not going to happen.
After about three minutes without a popup alert, email alert or chat window popping open I was kind of freaked out. I realized quickly how social media interrupted my workflow.
Every twenty god damn seconds these little bricks were being tossed at me to get me to turn my head. “HEY, HEY, OVER HERE. GIVE ME YOUR ATTENTION!”
And I was gladly giving it up to stay current with news, friends, their food, conferences, products, travel, drinking at 11 a.m., politics, pedometer readings, recent playlists, jokes and spam.
So over the next two weeks I fought off the urge to login or participate. And when I say, “fought”, I mean it.
I was so used to the interruptions that I would catch myself attempting to login to Facebook that I would then force myself to leave the computer and what I was working on to walk around my tiny apartment for a minute or two.
Then I would sit back down and focus on the task that I was working on. To be totally honest, the first big task I worked on . . . was a private Twitter-like system for personal use! One dude tweeting on a desert island.
I broke my Twitter habit by emulating the behavior of tweeting my thoughts in the tiniest echo chamber. After a week of this I had collected around one hundred pithy thoughts.
The immediacy that social media provides was there . . . but the ideas, the thoughts, all still mine. I could flesh them out if I wanted. If I disliked them, I still had to deal with them. There would be no adding another brick to a wall that I couldn’t see the top of with over 11,000 of my own tweets.
The results of taking this time off from social media were numerous.
I had time for my family in new ways. When I left out the desire to share the moments we were together on Facebook or Twitter I found myself involved in it, present. I had no concern about how I would make someone laugh or if the post would be “Liked”.
Another result was that I started making real world things . . . you know, with my hands. I took the time to research and learn speaker cabinet design. Then as part of that began to build them. Prototyping with my son and iterating on the designs until we created these.
One of the more important results was to realize that I didn’t need Facebook any more.
Personally, I found that it was really nice not to have to interact with people I went to kindergarten or college with – not to mention dated.
All of those relationships had some weight, that when missing, left me lighter – and again, living in the present. Which allows me to remain busy making more history.
When my sabbatical from social media ended I did come back to a few sites. Twitter is one and LinkedIn is another. I’m much less active on Twitter than I was previously and more active on LinkedIn than before. For me, these have a weight I’m comfortable with, until the next time I do this.
Putting A Bow On It
My social media sabbatical was an opportunity to take down the wall that I had created over the last five years and remake it. This time in a way that provides the most value to me and allows me to see the real world over the top of it.