Last week, I decided what I was going to get myself for Valentine’s Day (me and myself have a loving relationship). I was going to give myself a day off from social media. I would not write a blog post. I would not twitter a tweet. I would not facebook a facebook status. I would unplug as much as is possible in today’s world.
As the day approached, I realized with a start that I don’t think I’ve ever taken 24 hours away from social media, like completely away, since I started blogging almost 2 years ago. There have been days that I didn’t blog and there have been days that I didn’t tweet or Facebook *much*, but a whole 24 hours with nothin coming from me? I don’t think it has happened.
Mark Valentine’s Day 2012 on your calendar. I spent the whole day away from producing content, and the only stuff I did was play on Pinterest.
You know what the weird thing is? I REALLY enjoyed myself.
I love social media, but it’s work
Here is the reality that bonked me on the head during my ever so brief hiatus. Are you ready?
Social Media is a lot more work than we think it is.
Now, I’m not asking anyone to play a violin for me, but consider everything that goes into this “social media stuff.”
• You are perpetually “on” in two ways – you hope to provide interesting content and you hope to provide content that won’t lead into a complete crap storm (unless you enjoy those, but I do not)
• You are constantly monitoring. Did someone mention you in a post or link to a post of yours? Did someone ask you a question? Did someone nicely tweet out a post of yours? Your ears are always ringing.
• You are always trying to respond in kind. I get extremely brilliant comments here on my blog. That to me means that each comment deserves an equally thoughtful (though maybe not as brilliant) reply. That’s a lot of writing in a short span of time.
The list goes on and on. Really, we have our brains running perpetually on overdrive and we don’t even notice it because social media “stuff” is happening ever so covertly in the background of other stuff “stuff” we are doing.
The clock is always running
Even in the most stressful jobs, there are times when it’s probably okay to be a bit slower to reply. In some more traditional jobs, you have the generally accepted 9-5 Monday-Friday gig. You may do a bit here and there over the weekend, but it’s generally considered “overtime.”
In social media world, we don’t take breaks because a) we don’t feel like we can and b) because the clock is always running. When I go to bed, it’s only 7 or so in California. It’s already the next morning in places like Australia and New Zealand and Malaysia and the Philippines. People are emailing me, tweeting me, Facebooking me, all while I am sleeping. From the moment I wake up, there is stuff to reply to. Sometimes, insomniacs may catch themselves responding to things at 3 or 4 in the morning.
You know you’ve done it.
Is this all natural though? Are our brains meant to be this “on” all the time? Or, let me put it another way. Is it healthy for our brains to be stimulated by the same kinds of stuff nearly 24/7, 365? I’m not sure it is. A day without the daily grind showed me that a lot of social media really is a grind. It’s pressure. It’s risk. It’s frustration. It’s pulling back something you want to say or saying something you shouldn’t have said and then apologizing, all in the very public world.
That’s kind of crazy when you think about it, right?
I went about 2 years without pulling away fully from social media for more than 24 hours. That’s 2 years without a single day off, pretty much.
When was the last time you unplugged, completely, for any length of time? What was your experience?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thestarmama/69575266/ via Creative Commons