I recently took a vacation from social media of all types (except for SnapChat, because cold turkey can kill I hear!), and the benefits were wonderful!
But it wasn’t just social media I took a break from, it was a break from using technology and CONSUMING SO MUCH INFORMATION!
It was a short sabatical.
A typical day went like this:
Wake up, check phone,
Exercise, use Nike+ app and Spotify app,
Make nutritious breakfast, surf the web (KCCO! DMA is brilliant),
Shower, and get dress, while listening to music on Spotify/Youtube (Pandora is oldnews btw),
Play guitar before work, using phone to search tabs and how to vids on Youtube,
Check: phone periodically betweek clients at work, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat,
Eat lunch, surf the web, read emails, tweet out some philisophical and esoteric nonesense,
Wrap up at work, checking phone periodically,
Head home, surf the web, watch a movie (Netflix, Hulu, HBO),
Eat a delicious dinner with my lovely wife (avoid using phone for fear of the snarling “glare”), we have a rule (which is not always followed to the T) no phones at the dinner table,
Before bedtime, read a book, surf the web, mess with creative apps (Sketchbook, Over, Brushes, IMovie, PicPostPlay, GifBoom).
Alarm is already set on my IPhone.
And is starts all over again the next day.
With a break from technology, I had much more time… for myself and for others.
No checking the phone incessantly. Some genius on the internet shared checking Facebook regularly was analogous to walking over to the refrigerator to open it and stare in, despite being hungry.
Just to check.
A feeling of morally superiority came over me, maybe stroking my ego for being “disciplined.”
But that is secondary to the actual benefits of not ‘wasting’ time, and doing something more constructive.
I read a few books. I didn’t tweet any quips or words of wisdom gained from this literature. I wasn’t thinking of my next post, how it would sound, how to formulate it correctly to gain friends and collect likes. I wasn’t living my life with the foreshadowing thought of which filter to use, what caption to accompany these “slices of eternity” (< that’s from Søren Kierkegaard).
I think a big question to explore is the WHY?
Why take a break? What had happened to me?
While at a farewell gathering for an older friend, a gentleman commented on the depth of my involvement in social media. “You are one of those social media type of guys?”
Am I? Was I? What the heck does that even mean?
My mind was racked with justifications, rationalizations and maybe… excuses.
"It’s a thing my generation does."
"Benjamin Franklin use to cart rolls of paper through the streets of Philadelphia for the sole purpose of appearing industrial, he had his own printing press buisiness, he was the first PR specialist. Me like him, this is my forum to self promote, self enhance, aggrandize."
Are there truth to these reasons? Sure.
In polling some close friends, I asked them to gauge time and percent of a day spent on social media or using technology to that, on average in one day. They had different responses, some as low as 1-2 hours.
Me. I’m an addict. I’m multitasking constantly.
HOW can I truly be “fully present” when my mind is spread thin, pulled in multiple directions at all times?
In my line of work, generous attention and generous attunement can be healing in and of itself.
This practice keeps me rooted in the importance of mindfulness.
But what about the practice of mindlessness? Tuning out. Going zombie.
No longer is the use of social media what we do when we are waiting.
It has become what we do while everything else waits for us to finish.
And we (read: me) allow it to be so.
I have been mowing over the implications of consuming this much information.
Are we not said to be in the age of the information ecomony?
Isn’t it well know that Knowledge is Power?
Power. Ecomony. Information.
What happens when our desire for upward mobility, self promotion, via consuming information becomes the problem? I saw a figure that reported there is more NEW created content every 24 hours than total in the last 30 years… each day. That is a TON of info to absorb, process and integrate.
But what happens when someone does do just that? Do they go super saiyan? Do they levitate and leave the earth? I doubt it. Do we become smarter?
Maybe there are categories of users, super users (hyper-users) and hypo-users? And the average, the typical bell curve distrubation of average users who fall within the middle ranges of use. Maybe there are certain personalities who have a proclivity to use social media more than typical, such as extroverts or type As?
We have may questions, and i’m sure as time goes on, the proper research will shed light on this idea. The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), the Bible of mental health, has for consideration the diagnosis of internet gaming disorder.
To take a break is healthy. As the timeless wisdom reminds us, too much of anything can be bad for you. For example, we are made of water, we are recommended to consume a certain quantity of H20 daily. But if you consume too much, you get hyponatremia (water intoxication) which is potentially fatal.
Too much social media. Too much twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat.
How can my generation overcome this powerful tool? We praise it for it’s good and it’s ability to connect and share. But what about the side effects? How do we use this tool without it killing us slowly?
Many more questions come of these questions? Many answers to follow as time passes and scholarly people figure out what is operating underneath. You don’t have to be a social scientist to figure out too much social media pulls you away from what is important in life. The pictures have made their rounds on the internet, of a group of people staring into their phones; children on swings in a park playing on tablets, not swinging of course; and Albert Einstein’s quote underneath each picture, reminding us of the long term psycho-socio-political consequences.
Maybe I am a “social media” type of guy. But, I refuse to allow it to steal away that, which is most precious, my time, FOR SELF AND OTHERS.
Is there a balance? Does anyone really care if we strike a balance?
More thoughtful discussion is needed to have a clear answer, and to find better alternative solutions.
I see crash courses in social media advertised, but no courses for managing social media accounts, nor couses in self management.
As I ease back into the use of social media, I find myself asking, “is this really that important?”
Like the empty fridge analogy, will something different be there if I check more/less frequently?
What are we really hungry for? What is that thing we a searching for to satiate that great human need of belonging and connection?
Better post this to Facebook (OH, THE IRONY!)