Marketing Musings, Social Media
Imagine. What if you couldn’t check Facebook, watch TV, read the latest tweets, listen to the radio, or call your best friend? For me, that would be a complete nightmare.
If we’ve met, you know me as a person that is never offline. I have Twitter feeding texts to my phone; I am emailing clients around the clock; I always have Facebook open on my browser, texting, checking in on foursquare, tweeting, sharing, and dialed in—all the time. Last month, Verizon reported that I used 900 text messages in less than 30 days. For some of you, this sounds completely obsessive and a bit crazy, but for me it’s my life. As a Marketing and Social Media Consultant, it’s imperative for me to be online, reading blogs and tweets, learning, and sharing all the time. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. However, in the last couple of months, my brain went into overdrive. I couldn’t take it anymore and needed to get a break. I needed a media fast.
Last weekend I challenged myself to a (social) media fast; I went offline for 48 hours. I turned off my phone, closed my laptop, and completely disconnected. At first it was a little nerve-racking. As I left for my weekend getaway, a few thoughts kept popping up, “Oh, I forgot to send a meeting request for my team meeting” or “Shoot, I need to tell Bob that I’m out of town.” Once I got past the initial angst though (about 5 hours), I started to feel better. The longer I was disconnected, the better I felt. In fact, it was a bit liberating to know that nobody could contact me and that I wasn’t obligated to respond. By Sunday, I was dreading the thought of turning on my phone and opening my computer. I loved the brain vacation and the ability to just be free.
Things I learned and suggestions from my media fast:
- Life goes on—Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. Although I’d like to think of myself as an important part of Projectline, I know that business will go on even when I’m offline. Not that I actually thought business would stop, but I wouldn’t ever want to be a roadblock for anyone trying to get things done. Now I realize that everyone needs a little break and it’s completely reasonable to go dark for a day or two.
- I was TOO connected. I realized that I needed boundaries. I’m a bit addicted to my inbox, wanting to be responsive and helpful all the time. At night, I like to check my email to catch up before the next day (I have customers in multiple time zones). But it’s happened many times where I’d be sucked in for at least 2 to 3 hours before bed. I need to dedicate my evenings to enjoying my time and not making work be my life all the time.
- A chance to think freely. The media fast made me think how I don’t usually have the time to just BE and evaluate my life. Of course we’ve all seen the statistics on the influence of media but what I’m talking about is actually thinking about the direction of our lives, our goals and priorities, and being able to reflect on how we live our lives without media distracting our attention.
- Try new things. Doing a media fast is the perfect time to try something new—no distractions, all learning. I ended up playing card games, going on a hike, and ate at some new restaurants. Take advantage of the time and ability to do something you wouldn’t normally do if you were connected.
- Joint fast. If you decide to do a media fast with someone else, choose to do it with someone you really care about (and only do with someone who is also doing a media fast!). Luckily, I did a weekend getaway with a close friend and we had plenty of activities and exploring to do on our Anacortes adventure. However, if you’re with someone that drives you nuts after 10 hours—you’ll go nuts. Without media, you’re with that person all the time, so choose wisely.
Overall, my media fast was an awesome experience. I had the opportunity to truly relax, rethink my priorities, and come back to the media world with a clear head. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Anyone else want to try a media fast? Let me know how it goes!