Monday, August 06, 2012

Results of my Social Media Fast

During the Month of July, I fasted from social media, which included Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Blogging. I'm a very active guy (probably a bit of an understatement)in terms of social media, and my question going in was 'how big of a role does social media have in my head?' I'm a guy who checks their Klout (social media impact) score on a regular basis, and probably tweets more just to increase it.

Someone smart once said that if you want to see how tightly coupled you are to any kind of habit, stop doing it for a while and see what happens. So I did. To sum it up: I missed social media a lot, I was amazed how tightly linked to it I was, and in the end, I came out slightly less linked to it. Here are a few thoughts that I jotted down as I went through the fast:

  1. My brain was trained to think in terms of statuses.  I found myself reading something, seeing something or doing something and feeling compelled to think of the event in terms of a twitter post, or posting a picture.  I noticed how I took pictures just to document the event and post it.  I noticed how many of my posts were to present the highlights of my life in the way I wanted my life to be perceived.
  2. Living in the present moment.  I think I did a much better job of this while not being on FB.  I was less concerned about checking in, posting a picture or a status, and more concerned about just enjoying what I was doing.
  3. I missed keeping up to date with friends.  I learned just how dependent on FB I am to keep in touch with lots of my family and friends.  People would ask, "Did you see what so and so said/did on facebook?" and I felt like I was missing out.  My close friends and family, I would call or text.  That mid-circle of friends, I missed out on what was going on in their world by not being on facebook.
  4. Facebook is tightly linked to my communications and authentication.  I use the 'log in via facebook' capability a lot in my applications, and without facebook, I was hosed.  I also depend on FB for communications - lots of people's e-mail addresses that I don't have, and need FB to reach out en-masse.  It's also easier to post something amusing than have to send it via SMS or e-mail to friends, which I found myself doing.  I also use the facebook event invite feature, and without any kind of calendaring integration, I missed out on this functionality.
  5. I used Facebook to placate bordom.  I was amazed how many times I would grab my phone when bored and not have facebook to go to.  I found other things to do on my phone when I was bored, like check e-mail, but wow do I do that a lot.
  6. No place to vent. I missed out on having a channel to vent on when something went wrong, or being able to use twitter to post a complaint about a product issue that needed resolution.
In the end, I think I was able to reset some pathways in my brain in a good way.  I feel less compelled to post every thing I do, and less concerned about the world knowing what I'm doing or thinking at any moment.  I actually ask myself, 'why would anyone care?' before posting something, or just don't think to post things in general.  I never really did anything to deal with my constant going to my phone when I'm bored - I just changed what I do on my phone, not really dealing with the core issue at all.

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