I made an intentional decision on December 23 to not post to Twitter or Facebook through New Years Day. I wasn’t doing it to grandstand or say “hey look at what I’m doing”, but at the time I wasn’t sure why I was doing it, or felt compelled to do so. I just knew I needed a break from creating original thought or re-posting other great content from the inter webs. I was tired, and it had been a long year, I missed my family, and I needed to unplug. As one day turned into two, three, and four, I realized how much I really needed this social media sabbatical.
To be fully transparent (and those of you who follow me know this) I did use Instagram, but it isn’t the same medium as a Facebook or Twitter and it didn’t cause me to put much thought into anything that was being posted. For me Instagram traditionally is just a fun way to show off my family and meals I am cooking, so I felt pretty safe in using it! Over the course of the 7 days of not posting I learned a lot about myself, and how I spend my time with the content I either create or consume for social media and most importantly, I learned why I needed this sabbatical so badly.
6 Important Things I Learned From a Social Media Sabbatical
- The world does not revolve around anything I post. It sounds a little silly because I have very few followers on social media (mostly by design) and even fewer actually care about what I post. But sometimes in the heat of the moment when I create something, read something, or think something I think it is the most important thing in the world at that moment for me to get it online. And it’s not.
- When I am not immediately retweeting or sharing something I read, I actually get to internalize the content. This is a big one for me. I only try and share things that are relevant that I think friends or followers will actually benefit from, but sometimes I get it out there so quickly I don’t get to fully immerse myself in the content, and that is a huge disservice to myself and to those that read what I’m posting.
- Sometimes a good book or a magazine article is king. Because we live in such an online age I forget that there are countless magazines that are delivered to my house or office each month, most of which if I’m honest, I never crack open. I tend to read the articles that most interest me online, which is fine, but sometimes sitting with a story and letting it wash over me and marinate is exactly what I need. Being able to highlight, tear out a page, scan it, and think on it is a pretty powerful action. It’s something I did several times over the last week and I will continue to do so. It’s actually given me some great content to remix and share over the next year.
- When I am constantly on Twitter and Facebook I write less original content. For some people this would not be an issue. For me, it’s a HUGE issue. I like to write and would like to someday write more officially…as in write a book! And for me to live out that dream I have to write everyday, and while I can be influenced by what I see online through various platforms, I have to make the time to write down my thoughts.
- I care too much about if someone “likes” what I’m posting. One thing I am striving for in 2016 is to be totally transparent, and I will tell you write now I care way too much about what all of you think about what I write and post! I’m pretty sure I am not alone here. How many people (like me) check your likes on Facebook or Twitter? For me I learned I was finding “value” from a “like” far too much, and in doing so I was hurting my ability to create content.
- My family is more important than social media. No, I didn’t need this social media sabbatical to tell me my family is more important, but I did need the reminder. By not reading, posting, and retweeting I actually engaged with my family more. This is important for me because I tend to be on the overdrive end of the workaholic spectrum and the intentional act of unplugging from social was extremely powerful for me. In fact, I found that the days of not posting anything were the best days of my vacation because I was fully present and engaged.
I am excited to build my platform in 2016 and be an even better thought leader and contributor to the communities I am a part of, but I am even more excited to do so in a more thoughtful, healthier, and balanced way. I am thankful for this last week of social media fasting as there is no way I would have learned these 5 things any other way. I challenge all of you to think about the ways you interact on social media in 2016 and to slow down the sharing long enough to fully digest and internalize that which are are sharing.
I wish each and everyone of you a fantastic year as you influence those around you with your platform!