20 July 2013

Social Media Fasting

Recently a fellow tweep @little_freedia and I decided to go a week without access to any social media.  We decided to see how we would cope without it.  Would we have withdrawal symptoms? Would we give in prior to the end of 7 days?  Or would we discover things that we didn't know existed?

To make it easier (or harder) we had to deactivate all social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  For myself, Facebook wasn't an issue as I had permanently deleted my account more than a year ago.  Twitter and Instragram are my main social media nowadays.  We decided that emails were allowed as it really is a communication platform and not a social media outlet.

So on Sunday night 7th July, I deactivated my Twitter and signed out of my Instragram account.  Having done this I actually felt like a naughty schoolboy who has done something mischievous in the classroom.  Well I couldn't worry too much about this as I had made a commitment to my fellow Tweep and was determined to see this experiment through.

Monday came and normally I would access my iPhone and check Twitter.  This time I couldn't. So I  got ready for work and made my way to the bus stop.  Immediately, my bus arrived and I shuffled on board.  I noticed that virtually everyone had their head bowed and were on their smart phones. It struck me that I could not do that, so I decided to look out of the bus window. It was a glorious sunny day and as the bus made its way over the Sydney Harbour Bridge I glimpsed the Opera House looking resplendent in the early morning light.  It was kind of therapeutic looking out of the window rather than looking at my phone screen.

Work was a challenge as well.  Periodically during the day I do check Twitter and Instragram for the latest updates. Naturally, I was not able to do this. What I noticed was that I was more focused on my work and engaged more with my co-workers.  The temptation was to check my phone but I stood firm.

Monday evening was certainly the hardest.  I always send numerous tweets out during the Q and A show on ABC.  This time I had no choice but to watch the show and not participate from a social media perspective.  I noticed that some of my Tweep friends (Em, Jennifer and Mariam) got their tweets posted. I felt helpless and unable to congratulate them.   

Tuesday was also another hard social media free day but it seemed easier to handle than Monday.  I noticed also that I seemed to have more time on my hands by not using social media outlets.  I seemed to engage better with friends and colleagues as well as spending more time on things like reading books.  

This trend continued throughout the week.  The more I was off social media the less I missed it.  I also noticed that I seemed to be more in control of my time and, strangely, felt quite relaxed.  That may have been in part due to the fact that I had a long weekend in Ballina, rather than my social media exile.

Finally, the end of the experiment came around.  I was now able to access Twitter and other social media platforms.  Quickly I re-activated my account for Twitter and re-logged into Instagram.  It felt strange being back after a period away.  

So what did I learn?  probably the obvious things.  In today's society we are very reliant and addictive to social media.  It is a drug that we cannot live without.  It also takes over our lives at the expense of proper interaction with our friends and loved ones.  Like most things, once you have been absent for a period of time the addiction wanes.  I found that time seemed to slow as I had to revert to the pre-social media ways - talking directly, watching television and movies without accessing a phone as well as reading magazines etc.  

I am now thinking of doing this on a regular basis - possibly every three months.  I will see if I can get @little_freedia to join in again.  If anyone else wants to take the social media experiment then I can thoroughly recommend it.


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