It’s been nearly a month since I went off the grid. On November 1, Off the Grid October (OTGO) ends, and New Relationship with Social Media November begins. Actually, that’s not just a November thing. I plan to make redefining my relationship with social a forever thing.
When I originally went off social media, I was surprised at how many people resonated with the idea. A couple of people joined me. Others called (yes, on the phone! a real voice!) or texted; some sent e-mails or commented on my blog post. I don’t think what I wrote was special. I didn’t write something powerful or moving that will forever resonate with people. Instead, I simply expressed what I now know so many are feeling.
When social media came on the scene in the early aughts à la Friendster and MySpace, it was completely new. In 2005, only 7 percent of adults used social media; today, that number has grown to 65 percent and up, with young adults at 90 percent. The problem is, along the way, we didn’t have any guidelines by which to define how that technology would integrate into our lives. Over time, more social media platforms sprouted up: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and so many more. For me, it was like my social media life became a part of real life. But it also became something that was taking away from real life.
In this brief stint away from social media, I’ve experienced a few important things:
- The Facebook lens has disappeared. Pre-OTGO, I would often think about how I would share something on social as I was living it. That lens is gone, and I want to keep it that way.
- I’ve reclaimed my stories. Before OTGO, I felt like my friends already knew everything that was going on in my life. I’d frame things with, “I don’t know if you saw this on Facebook, but . . . ” and many times, they had. Not anymore.
- I get to hear people’s stories. When my friends share things that matter, I get to have a real, raw human reaction.
- I don’t think about social media anymore. Pre-OTGO, I used to look forward to checking in; now I rarely think about what’s going on in the world of social media.
- I began to curate my own news. Hello, NPR. Goodbye, click-bait headlines.
- I still have friends! Leaving social media felt like saying goodbye to the biggest party in the world. But actually, I’ve had so much more personal connection in the last month than I have in a long time.
- I’m a better parent. I’m more engaged and less distracted. And that, of all the OTGO outcomes, is the most meaningful to me.
This past month has been incredibly rewarding. I want the good stuff to continue. But the reality is that social media is a part of my life—and I don’t see that changing, especially professionally. To keep the benefits coming, I’ve set boundaries to redefine my relationship with social media. They are:
- No apps. I deleted the Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn apps on my phone.
- Third time’s the limit. I will check social media preferably once but no more than three times a day. The only exceptions will be for professional reasons.
- Nine to nine. To maintain healthy boundaries with technology, I will access social media only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
I’ll start with those three. If I see myself slip, I’ll add more.
November marks the start of a new relationship with social media. How about for you? Is it time to redefine your relationship with social media, and if so, what guidelines will you be following?
Here’s to a new, better online life.
Image source: flikr | wilgengebroed