5 Lessons Learned From My Social Media Fast

lake okoboji

While I was gone on vacation I decided to not use social media. I was gone 8 days (disclaimer: I tweeted 3 times and used Facebook 4 times, only when I was really bored with nothing to do).

At the beginning it was quite difficult. I get used to thinking about things that I should tweet or things that I could blog about. I could still have that mindset but there was no reason to because I wasn’t going to use twitter or blog. Here are the take-aways from my time away from social media:

  1. Too much of social media is self promotion. And I’m as guilty as anyone else. I think a lot of Twitter/Facebook/Blogging becomes simply who can yell the loudest “LOOK AT ME!!!” Without relationships, social media doesn’t have much power. And when it becomes about self promotion the relationship factor is minimized. I came to this realization when I had in my head that I had to Twitter about the sovereignty series posts that went live while I was gone. But really my motivation was self promotion. I totally went out of my way during my “fast” from social media just to make sure people would come to my blog. Lame, I know.
  2. Taking a break is a healthy thing. I was always of the mindset previously, that if something had value then there was no reason to stop doing it just for the sake of stopping. But I’ve changed my mind. Taking a break provides perspective and makes you more effective when you re-enter.
  3. You need to have boundaries when using social media. I’ve heard hundreds of people say it: “I’m addicted to ______(twitter, facebook, blogging).” And I’ll admit, they are easy to get addicted to. 10 minutes becomes 2 hours pretty quickly with any of those. After some thoughts about all this I’ve come up with a few boundaries that I want to try and keep up with. They are to not use the computer before 9am or after 10pm. I try and use Facebook only twice a day and update my status no more than once a day. The hardest one will be what my buddy Vin calls #antisocialsunday on Twitter. Basically it is abstaining from using social media for all of Sunday. I might adapt that a bit to not use it from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday, but the premise remains the same…be in the moment with people.
  4. Social media is a wonderful and powerful tool. The biggest reason I was apprehensive to taking an 8 day break was because I wondered why anyone would take a break from something that has value. Now I’ve learned that I was wrong, but I also realized the power of social media by not using it. I can keep up with news, sports, friends, family, etc…all by using social media. I have almost zero idea what my friends did while I was gone and outside of looking at the Minneapolis newspaper a couple days and watching SportsCenter, I have no idea if anything big happened while I was “dark.” Either we rely on social media too much or it really is that powerful of a tool. I’ll go for the latter.
  5. The expectation to engage in social media comes more from me than anyone else. You know that feeling? The feeling of needing to blog or Twitter or get on Facebook. Because you need to. People are waiting to hear from you. Yeah I feel that sometimes and it is totally something from within. Sure it is great to be engaged in the conversation going on, but the expectation for me to be engaged only comes from myself. I need to silence that voice.

Have you taken a “social media fast”?

What kind of perspective on social media did the break provide?

(Photo: Taken by Rose from the dock on Lake Okoboji)