Why I Gave Up (Most of) Social Media

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.

-B

Oh, hello.

I am cautiously dipping my toes into the world of WordPress and blogging. Let me just say – any of you who are adept at website build and code – I commend you. It took me 2 hours just to figure out how to make the bold font on my title. So, kudos to you. I hope to add a little “pizzazz” to this page eventually, hopefully without burning down the internet in the process.

This is the very first post and I know I should probably write about something profound or so interesting that you’ll want to come back…but I’d just like to say hello. Coming up with new, fresh ideas and content is the perennial challenge so let’s start with getting to know each other a little bit.

My name is Brian and I live in the constant chaos that is New York City. It’s an odd choice for an introvert. It’s like saying “What’s the most calm, chill place where I can be alone with my thoughts?” and then saying “Yes. Now move me to the complete opposite of that”. (By the way I don’t know where that chill place is, but if you find it, let me know).

Wait, so, why NYC?

I moved to NYC 10 years ago to pursue a career, but also my heart. I had lived in Boston since college, working in a sales role (another terrible choice for an introvert), experiencing those typical mid 20’s revelations and questions of what I really wanted to do with my life.

I went to college with a major in Communication and Marketing but ended up in sales because it was glamorous and I made so much money, and…wait, no…I ended up in sales because I was saddled with so SO much debt and it was a job that would support my 20-something year old goal at the time which was: get me out of my parents house. I always wanted to work in marketing, but when you’re young and starting out, you can’t have it all.

6 years into my glamorous Boston sales lifestyle, I was ready for a change. I mentioned my heart earlier, and this is where that part comes in. I met Ray in the summer of 2010 on Cape Cod. I knew pretty much right away that I had finally found my best friend and the person I would spend the rest of my life with, and also the person that would put up with all of my idiosyncrasies. There was a catch (duh) – he lived in New York City. I loathed New York. I grew up across the way from it and swore that I would never move there no matter how fun Home Alone 2 made it seem.

We spent the last few months of 2010 commuting back and forth between Boston and New York. Anyone that lives or grew up in the North East knows that the drive between Boston and New York on I-95 is like the gauntlet from hell. It’s the Battle Royale of bad drivers and even worse attitudes. Nobody wins, but all suffer.

Needless to say, the Pro’s and Con’s of living in NYC began to shift. Around this same time, a professional opportunity appeared in New York as well. Not only was it much more geographically pleasing to my life circumstances, but it was the shift I needed – moving me out of sales and into the marketing track that I really wanted to pursue. With the guidance and support of some amazing mentors, I packed up my truck with the (very) limited possessions that I owned, and began my new career in my new city.

So, here I am just under 10 years later.  I’m still in Marketing, Ray and I are still together, and New York still hasn’t sent me running yet (except for that year away in Seattle which is a story in and of itself for another time).

Again, I know this wasn’t profound as some first entries can be, but I do hope it allowed you to get to know me a bit. If you have stories of moving to (or running from) New York, switching careers, or like ANYTHING about dogs, than drop a note. I love stories, and I hope you’ll like some of mine.

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