Last week, we went on vacation. Although it was shortened due to the unfortunate path of Hurricane Arthur, prior to leaving, I deactivated my Facebook account. I wanted to see what it felt like to be disconnected from that form of social media. I stayed on Instagram just to post pictures from vacation, but other than that, I let it all go.
It’s not a bad thing to do. Disconnecting a little is healthy; it allows you to focus on the things that are truly important, such as your family and friends. I had become way too involved on Facebook, feeling the need to post constantly. I don’t feel the same way about it now that I shut down for a bit, examined my own actions, and evaluated my overall social media behavior. The result: I’m going to approach it differently from here on out.
Having read articles from Mashable (8 Reasons to Deactivate Your Facebook Account) and other social media experts regarding reasons to leave certain forms of social media, I decided to be my own test subject. As one who has now done it, I found I had so much more time in my days to do things I love, like read, write, exercise, be with my kids, and connect with other folks in person, not through a computer.
However, as a communication professor, and one who teaches public relations and who employs social media marketing as an indie author, I am somewhat obligated to “stay connected”—to “communicate”—though honestly, at times, I want to curl up with a good book or watch “24″ and not communicate. It can be exhausting, at least it was for me, because I was using it not only as a touchstone with friends, colleagues, current & former students, and family, but also as a marketing tool as an independent author. The hours I spent crafting messages and writing dopey posts could have been spent elsewhere, and most assuredly, in a more productive way.
It’s true; I didn’t stay away for long. I have a book I’m about to release and promote (in moderation), and more importantly, there are friends I have on Facebook that I love keeping in touch with on a regular basis.
So what did I learn from the temporary disconnection?
I’m going to approach it in a whole new way. I will dabble when I want and when I feel it’s right, and not because I feel compelled to do so. No one really gives a crap whether you’re on vacation, sitting by the pool, or at swim team practice. We are all doing the same types of things during the day. If we can be perfectly blunt, we want to feel special, but the truth is, we’re all doing the same types of things day in and day out, with an occasional trip to some exotic place. We’re all the same, people.
Which brings me to the pleasure I’ve found on Instagram. It’s a less bitchy forum. People “like” pictures you’ve taken and people don’t get snotty or decide not to “like” or boycott your postings. No one cares there. You just post things that are pretty or interesting or funny. Some people like them, some people don’t, and no one takes offense either way. I don’t think I can say the same for the way people behave on Facebook.
If it sounds like I’ve soured a little with regard to Facebook, perhaps I have. In speaking with other folks who have quit Facebook all together, it’s interesting to hear the resounding benefits they declare in having done so, with all of them reporting that it was “one of the best decisions they have made” for numerous reasons from leaving behind jealous friends to spending more quality time with people they care about to just not wanting to play the social media game anymore.
For now, the jury’s out for me. I have way too many people that I care about and want to stay connected with on Facebook who are not on Instagram, and it’s the real reason I decided to come back. Mashable also wrote an article about why millenials are leaving Facebook. The dynamics of social media are fascinating, and it was one of the reasons why I wanted to eliminate it for a bit. Now, I can honestly say that it’s my choice to stay connected simply because I don’t want to lose touch with friends that I care about and would miss tremendously should I shut it down for good. I also know my behavior with regard to it will be modified by my own choosing.
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Two quick things: I’m reading a good book, I watched “24″ last night, I’ve gotten off my duff and exercised, and I’m spending more time with my family.