I originally stated in my opt-out post that I was going to delete my social media profiles on July 1. The point for leaving my accounts active for a couple of weeks was to allow friends to capture my contact information. The more I thought about it, though, most of my friends have my contact info. I shot messages to a few people I wanted to make sure had my contact info. I figure everyone who don’t can find me online. I am not that hard to find.
With that out of the way, I got down to the business of closing accounts. I started yesterday with Last.fm, Spotify, Rdio, Google+ on my Google Apps email. Today, I followed through with the biggies.
Interestingly, when I did my social media sabbatical in 2010, only Facebook would allow you to deactivate, but not fully delete your account. Twitter has now jumped on board with the deactivation-before-deletion waiting period. My Facebook will officially be deleted in 14 days. Twitter makes you wait 30 days before your account is deleted. I understand why there’s a delay. Sometimes people make rash decisions, and the waiting period is a safety net. As for me…I just feel lighter having initiated the process.
As discussed in the opt-out post, I plan to keep my Google+ account active on my Gmail address. I have, however, going to take everyone out of my Circles except family members. I will no longer post anything publicly.
On a nerdy aside — It’s kind of cool to watch the animation when you delete a Circle. It drops down and rolls out of sight. Bye Bye.
After three months, my social media sabbatical is officially over.
Interestingly enough, when I unplugged at the beginning of September, I was certain that I would be sitting in a corner like a crack addict, itching to post a status update. While I cannot say that I didn’t have something akin to withdrawal symptoms at first, the obsessive/compulsive urge to check in fell off rather quickly. To tell the truth, being away from social media was quite liberating. Without the benefit of Facebook or Twitter, I was forced to actually pick up the phone and call people if I wanted, or needed, to have a substantive conversation. Email is pretty much still my default method of communication, but it was nice to hear people’s voices — particularly the laughter. There is absolutely no comparing “LOL” to hearing the heart-felt laugh of a family member or friend. In fact, just last week my buddy Dotch and I shared something that, in the scheme of things, was rather mundane, but we must have laughed for five minutes straight. Had I made the joke in an email, text message, IM chat, or on Facebook, it just wouldn’t have been the same.
This exchange led me to question just why I was jumping back into the fray. It’s as simple as this: there are just as many people that I don’t get a chance to talk to during my time off and I miss them. Social media is a good way to keep up with more people than I have time to call. I think what I’ve learned from my sabbatical is not to lean to heavily on Facebook and Twitter for interaction with friends. It cannot serve as a substitute for a phone call, an email, or, more importantly, face-to-face time. The convenience of social media, at least for me, lends itself to the disconnect. I don’t think this issue is limited to me, but I won’t project.
As I suspected, the things that I did miss were different for each mode of social media. Facebook provided the more personal updates about friends, their kids, and family that I appreciate. Twitter had become my news ticker. Without Twitter, I found that I merely spent more time online scanning news sites and blogs. Google Buzz served as my outlet for engaging in substantive discussions and debates. This void was filled with forums and blogs.
As I mentioned in my piece when I signed off, I realized that social media was really the symptom — not the disease. I am easily distracted, and it was probably too convenient to blame social media for my persistent habit of checking in.
With that said, the time off was a great breather. If you log into Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times a day, I suggest that you try taking a break. For me, it helped put things into perspective. As I return to the social media sphere, I have an idea about how I plan to re-engage. Much like just about everything in our lives, there has to be boundaries and limits. I think what friends will see is that my engagement will now be much more predictable. No longer will I be dropping into Facebook throughout the day. Twitter is a little different, because I still see it as akin to peeking in on the news. The key is to peek in, do a quick scan and then move on. Google Buzz, which tends to require more of my attention, is something that will have be reevaluated. Even when I logged off, there was some discussion about its longevity. Perhaps time has resolved that debate. Google Buzz is either going strong or interest and participation is waning.
As I sit here typing, it occurs to me that I don’t really have anything too profound to share. I’m sure many of you have thought about, if not acted on, these this issue. I reached a burn out point with social media, and though I’m returning, it’s definitely with a cautious approach. I may, in the end, decide that the return only confirmed that my time off was the right thing to do, and I’ll just shut the whole thing down and return to calling and emailing my friends. That’s actually my preference anyway. (I never understood why people sent me messages through Facebook when they knew my phone number and/or email address.)
I’m happy to answer questions, if you have them. Otherwise, that’s it. No great fanfare. Just a quiet reentry into the fold. So, without further ado, here’s where to find me in the social media space.
If you followed me on Twitter before my exit, you’ll need to find me again. Unlike Facebook, I couldn’t deactivate my Twitter account. It’s pretty much an all or nothing proposition. Google Buzz appears to have retained who I followed, and those who followed me.