I Took Time Off Social Media & Didn't Die

I'll be the first to admit it: I have a social media problem. It is my alcohol, my coke, my distraction from reality. As someone who's used social media on a daily basis for the past decade, leaving it for good is simply out of the question. Not only is it the number one way I stay connected with friends, family, and network with other like-minded people, but it's been incredibly influential for my business.

However, in order for a successful recovery, you must first admit you have a problem. Done. Like millions of people right this second, I was wasting way too much time on Facebook. Maybe you can primarily be found getting your Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Google+ fix, but Facebook was my drug of choice.

I'd tap the blue icon on my phone the second my eyes opened. Seeing the notification icon lit up red would instantly send a rush of endorphins through my body. After 10-15 minutes, I'd get up to make breakfast. After breakfast, I'd skim through the News Feed. And after that, an hour, sometimes more, would be gone.

This would go on every day, and it honestly wouldn't surprise me if at least 3 hours per day were spent just in Facebook alone, not counting leaving it open in a tab while I got work done. Speaking of working while doing that, here's the simple truth...

You're Not Getting Your Best Work Done

Sure, you're "multi-tasking." However, multi-tasking is an illusion we're getting work done, but instead we're simply staying busy.

They're two totally different things. If you truly believe you're an awesome multi-tasker, I'd argue you're also an awesome liar to yourself.

Making the disconnection process even more difficult is one word: Messenger. Facebook has created the most popular messaging platform on the planet, and it really is one of the best out there. But like the News Feed, it too can sneak up on you. Just one message can avalanche into a time suck vortex.

A month prior to taking some time off, I deleted Messenger from my phone, and turned off Facebook Chat on the web. The phone part lasted, and helps me stay better connected with what's around me, and in the moment with other people.

The web part did not. For many people, Messenger has become the go-to. I simply cannot shut it off entirely. As a rule now though, I only check/respond to messages on the web.

So, bright and early on a Monday morning, I declared I was taking a week off social media. Later that day, I clicked a link that took me right to Facebook. Fuck. However, I'd spend the next few days away, only to hop on very briefly to thank someone for their awesome hospitality on Thanksgiving. The next few days after that, I'd hop on once or twice for just a few minutes at a time.

The whole "week off" thing didn't stick, but it wasn't a failed experiment, either. That following Tuesday and the days that followed, something interesting happened...

My Creativity Was Firing On All Cylinders

I guess because I didn't have all this information, a lot of it being total nonsense, floating through my head, my brain was able to focus attention on more productive things. My writing improved. My idea machine felt more efficient. My mood was more positive. And whaddya know...all this time suddenly opened up in my day!

One phrase that's frequently thrown around is "FOMO" or the fear of missing out. The force was very strong for about two days before it subsided. While I'd love to say don't worry, you won't miss out on anything, the reality is you will.

There were a couple important messages I was super late responding to, and a couple local events I didn't know about. However, the people I care most about were still able to reach me through texting or calling. Since I like keeping up with everything technology and mobile related, I simply stuck to using Feedly.

Overall, the experience was very enlightening. It reminded me just how much of an impact social media has on our psyche, as well as our ability to get work done. Cutting it out completely is, quite frankly, an idiotic decision, but maybe, just maybe, take some time off and see how it can change your life.

Photo credit: Art Crimes

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