It may strike you as odd that someone who is a self-professed tech nerd (or maybe just a nerd, generally) and early adopter wants to push back from the social media buffet. For quite some time, I’ve wondered if I suffer from an undiagnosed case of ADD, because I am easily, and frequently, distracted. The exponential speed at which the digital medium is growing , has thus become the grandest of distractions. To take this a step further–social media is the ultimate challenge to a person easily drawn in (I don’t want to keep repeating the word ‘distracted’) by various forms of media. Facebook…Twitter…Google Buzz…LinkedIn. You name it. I’ve tried it. I have been incredibly active on the first three.
Active sounds so nice and harmless. However, what I discovered is that being ‘active’ really translated into near-obsessive participation. At any time during the day, I felt somehow compelled to check in on one, or all, of these social media outlets. I used different sites for different things. Facebook was for keeping up with family and friends. Twitter was for tracking photographers and technologists. Google Buzz was, well, something of a Twitter extension. It was a place where I could engage in dialogue, often with people I’ve never met, about technology. Each site had it’s own lure for my attention.
I tried using some programs or websites that can, in some form, aggregate the information feeds from each site; but having all the information in one place was no less distracting or time consuming. Now, I don’t want to suggest by saying distractions that the information being shared by friends and “follower” on these sites was not worth my time or attention. My issue really is that it’s just too much information. I couldn’t believe that I was reaching a point of information overload.
After finally acknowledging that even my insatiable curiosity has become over-saturated with information, the question then turned to: “Just what do I do about it?” I didn’t really consult with many friends about this, because, frankly, none of my friends really heavily engaged in social media. Well, at least not to the extent that I am. Instead, I searched online for perspectives on the issue. The result of my search turned up a lot of articles and blog pieces about quitting a particular site–namely Facebook. My thing, though, is that I’m not quite sure I want to quit the sites, I just need some help gaining control with the, seemingly obsessive, need to put my eyeballs on these sites. As some of my friends will tell you, I tend to be an all-or-nothing person. I’m either all in or I’m all out. I am trying to change this rather rigid posture (across the board) and practice moderation. This social media bug, however, just may need my “I’m out!” approach. Fortunately, after digging around for a while, I came across a very well-articulated piece by Edan Lupucki on The Millions. Click on the title below to read the article.
I had an Aha! moment when I read the article. Or, perhaps I just appreciated that I was not alone with this issue. Whatever the reason, as I read through the article, the idea of a going on a social media detox really began to resonate with me. This could be a happy place between my normal, “Ahh…the Hell with it!” approach, which doesn’t always stick, and not doing anything to address what I feel is be a problem.
So there it is. I’m going on a social media diet, if you will. Actually, I’m also starting back with Atkins at the same time, so I’m doing a lot of consumption reduction right now. I intend to sign off of Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz for three months. (I don’t really use LinkedIn in a social way, so that’s a non-issue.) It will be an interesting to see just what I learn about myself. I suspect the issues have far less to do with social media, and much more about how my mind works. I’ll post an update at the end of the year to share my experience.
Interestingly, as I was gathering my thoughts for this post, a link to this following short video on TED popped up in my inbox.
The timing of this video is/was rather eerie, but probably serves as a good reminder that I should go about doing whatever I plan to do quietly instead of making pronouncements about my goal(s).