Social media sabbatical
Technology & You: Who Serves Whom?
About a year ago, a savvy social media whiz I’d met at a workshop mentioned she even kept her iPhone nearby at night, ready to check her Twitter timeline (and other networks) way past the witching hour – this, a week before her wedding. I was floored. Addiction, anyone? If you want to see whether you are at risk, take this quizz.
Over a day a week
I was no where near showing signs of social media addiction, belonging to only a handful of networks and active on fewer still. Yet the question lingered in my mind: was I investing more than a sensible amount of time reading and/or participating on various fora, Twitter and professional networks?
I tracked my average time commitment over the course of two weeks: I was spending over a day a week on this “virtual life”, and more if that week included publishing a blog post.
What is over a day a week worth to you? Time is the one commodity that, once spent, you can never get back.
Being passionate about one’s work, professional involvements and creative outlets is good.
But it’s easy, sometimes, to go overboard and let things get out of balance. How many of you fear missing out on something (or, gasp, becoming invisible) when you go off-line? How did you spend that time before this rich virtual world became a part of our daily professional and personal lives?
Around mid-June, I went cold turkey. I did not write a blog post, did not visit LinkedIn (save for accepting a few invitations to connect from people I knew) or Viadeo, didn’t Tweet (but extend copious thanks for all the mentions, RTs and new followers received during this sabbatical), and only glanced occasionally at blogs I follow and professional fora to which I belong.
The first week was strange, I had to invent a new “first cup of coffee morning routine”. The quiet meant I had to find other ways to take needed breaks from work; my eyes got more rest and my body more exercise!
I started writing letters again. Real ones. Ones that take thought and care so that the message makes sense despite the time lag and so your penmanship is legible and not sloppy tidy. I made friends with the postman who no longer came just to deliver mail every day, but also to send my missives on their way.
I got back into yoga, and my back thanked me.
And with still a few hours to spare, I re-learned how to just “be”, letting thoughts and images wander, able to notice – really notice – the breeze on my face and the warmth of the sun (when there was any!) relaxing my muscles. In the present moment for all that it can offer.
End of sabbatical
Four months is a long enough hiatus. It’s fun to be back on-line and start interacting again. Not in a haphazard, always connected way, but rather in a more measured and planned one that allows for a broader set of activities not necessarily mediated by a digital screen.
Could unplugging at regular intervals be the new trend? The folks over at Offlining seem to think so.
What do YOU think?