The early morning moon hangs perfectly over Myrtle Ave on one end, while the sun slowly rises on the other. It’s that perfect time of early morning where the two quickly greet while changing shifts for the day. The logical response would be to pause and enjoy the moment, but social media can make us anything but logical. I pull out my phone, taking dozens of pictures from different angles and filters. I *need* to share this. And just like that, the moon has set, the sun has risen, and another moment missed because something inside me dictates that 12,000 strangers need to see this special moment too.
It’s those moments, and the literal hours spent with my face buried in my phone, that I’ve decided to turn my back on social media. Well, most of it. It probably seems ironic that the marketer who is constantly pushing for digital content and channels is opting out of it all himself but hear me out…
Social media is still a powerful resource that can bring about change, positivity, knowledge, and differing viewpoints – if we use it in the right way. I myself have forged some amazing relationships online, and created powerful campaigns to raise funds and awareness for causes and organizations that I support. I like to believe that these platforms were created for those purposes, but I wonder if perhaps we’ve strayed too far from that original path. Was Instagram created to highlight snippets of our lives – child births, vacations, marriage – or was it always meant to be a popularity contest? Was Facebook meant to bring about awareness and unique viewpoints, or a platform where folks just argue endlessly?
Imagine for a second it’s 1999 (if you can), and you’re showing off a photo album of your most recent vacation. It’s amazing. You went to Italy and managed to capture the best moments on your disposable camera. Not just so your close friends and family can travel vicariously with you, but mainly for your own memory. But, they see it, and their response is lackluster. The angles were off, the outfit could have been better, and the food pictures were less than appetizing. They’ve “seen better”. You immediately throw the album into the fire. It sounds insane doesn’t it? But that is what we have become – capturing moments for likes, not for ourselves, and removing anything that doesn’t reflect the approval of others.
I was guilty of it myself. I took photos that would appeal to followers, or posts that I thought most would agree with. I was creating content that was not genuine to who I was, but for what would resonate best. If I were a business, this would be great – that’s the engagement we want as marketers. But for myself, I had lost sight of the purpose of my online presence.
With some reflection over a donut and a coffee last weekend, I disabled Instagram and disappeared from the ether, so to speak. No long goodbyes or explanations to followers, I just wanted out of there. I had long ago deleted the noise that is Facebook. I immediately thought…but who will I share this photo of me and my donut with? Just kidding.
I’ve decided to maintain my presence on LinkedIn. I know it’s social media at it’s core, but platforms like this and Reddit have something that I missed on other platforms – a true cross-sharing of interesting information. It’s still noise, but in the best way. It’s knowledge, opinions, experiences and viewpoints. In a matter of minutes, I was engaged deep into a Reddit conversation over what book I should read next, and who *really* makes the best pizza in Brooklyn (Di Fara, obviously).
Will I eventually go back? Maybe. But for now I’m good with this extended vacation that doesn’t need to be “liked”.
Have you taken a time out from social for the New Year, temporarily or for good? I’d love to hear how long it lasted, or the impacts to your mental well being.