What Happens When You Stop Being Social

by · July 19, 201324 comments

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve not proactively posted anything on my social channels since July 3. It’s been a little experiment, just to see what would happen. Would anyone notice? Would I miss it? Would my Klout score drop? (God forbid!)

I did check my friend’s activity, like a few posts or place a comment here or there, and I participated in the necessary social media conversations for CafePress’s community of designers and users. The experiment wasn’t about unplugging completely or ignoring those whose content I’m interested in. It also wasn’t related to my real job, so I kept up those communications.

While I don’t know that there are a whole lot of learnings to share, here are some observations made after 15 days of silence: 

  • You do matter. The people who notice, ask after you. They are your true friends if those can be had in this crazy, virtual world of ours.
  • But you’re not important. Not to say you aren’t important to somebody or even a group of people. But overall, the world doesn’t miss you. Did I hurt your feelings? Well, you’ve got too much ego invested in this. Take a break. As odd as this might sound, the fact the world doesn’t miss you is a good thing.
  • Posting is a faint cry for attention. If you don’t post, you don’t stay glued to your phone, awaiting superficial validation that someone loves you. Your use of social media is very much about your ego. If you acknowledge that going in, you can at least offer value and humility in your “Look At Me”-ness.
  • You don’t need to share everything. Certainly most people don’t. I’ve always shared to a fault. A recent interview that focused on my life outside of work upset a couple of family members. It was probably good for me to reset and realize my personal angst isn’t fit for public consumption. (Though for the record, both overreacted.)
  • Devices are eating our brains. Until my little test, I didn’t believe in zombies. Now, unless people put their goddamn machines down more often than they have them up, I’m going to stop believing in actual humans.
  • Considering what to post when you do decide to post again is much more thoughtful when you’ve been quiet. I keep asking myself, “What, if anything, do I have to say?” When I think of something, I’ll post again. Hopefully, it will be useful.

Sure, this is a personal journey and one that has as much to do with the busy-ness of life and perhaps my own self-awareness as any great social marketing insight. And yeah, I get that someone with a lot of followers has a different perspective than the average bear. But what I have to say today is this:

Put down your phone and tablet a bit. Talk to someone and look them in the eye. Don’t worry about telling the online (fake, superficial) world every pithy quote you dream up or show them pictures of every dish, dog or donut shop you happen upon. Share those things with real people in real life. It will change your perspective. And perhaps even how fulfilled you feel at who and how much people react.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.WhatDidEricSay.com/ Eric Miltsch

    Love it.

  • http://www.virtxpert.com/ Jonathan Frappier

    Great post!

  • JT Pedersen

    Enjoyed the article. For less noble reasons, I’ve simply been focused on key projects, my own social media activity has been down for the last two weeks as well. What I did notice? When I do post, the reactions (e.g. likes, pluses, shares) spike much higher.
    When you post less, as you note, what you do post tends you have greater impact.

  • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

    So, did your Klout score drop or not? Get to the good stuff! =)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Just checked. It actually went up!

      • http://www.pixiq.com/contributors/damienfranco Damien Franco

        That’s hilarious!

      • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

        Ha. Buried the lead. All the way in a comment reply.

  • Ilene Evans

    Devices ARE eating our brains! And I agree that posting is very much intertwined with my “look at me”-ness. Do I need social media to keep a pulse on my blog? My business? I’m not sure, Maybe I”ll have to try an experiment of my own.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Great stuff. I think we should organize a “guru gag order” week where everyone who runs a big blog and that stuff goes silent at the same time. Safety in numbers. You in?

  • http://www.twitter.com/unmarketing unmarketing

    Even more interesting is how long it would take people to notice if you didn’t announce you were taking a break. I notice people haven’t posted in a while only when I see a post from them and realize they’ve been gone!

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      I see that often. I now go a month or two between posts, and nobody thinks of me at all.

      I know that people are reading, though, because I get Unsubscribe notices.

  • Lorette Nicole

    Your whole article is the “good stuff.” Yes! put the contraption down and look someone in the eye. It IS about “validate me,” mostly. In the past I’ve tried to have civil discussions with people on a certain social platform and I got, “It’s MY opinion and I’m ENTITLED to express it,” “Well, it’s a free country and if you don’t like what I say then, you can “&%$#@!” I even had someone tell me; for expressing my heart felt concern for the person who’s post they were commenting on, that they were going to have their father come to my house and arrest me – because I offended them for speaking truth. DOH! If you don’t join some peoples’ pity party, they pretty much reach through the internet and choke you – while screaming, “VALIDATE ME!” It’s completely insane. Thanks for being real.

  • http://theskiny.com/ Helen Vong

    Great advice!

  • Xelo

    Great post to remind us to be in touch with the ones who physically surround us and not only our digital network ! thanks for sharing :)

  • Emma Burford

    I’m heading off to unplug for a couple of weeks and reconnect with the offline world, should be interesting to see how I cope without my social fix ;-)

  • Dawn Renee Rice

    I’m currently doing this on my personal social media and after 4 days not only do I not miss it, I find myself getting more done.

  • tamcdonald

    Jason, I recently took a week off completely. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-mcdonald/my-digital-vacation_b_3596264.html
    My biggest take away was setting limits on time, removing apps like Foursquare from my phone and keeping my phone in my pocket instead of my hand when walking or talking with someone. Amazing the amount of people I’ve said hello to on the sidewalk and the actual conversations I know have with the baristas at my coffee shop. I was always friendly, but too busy checking in to do more that smile and order my Americano. Some great observations from you in a different perspective. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great minds and all! Thanks for swinging by and sharing. Lets catchup in the analog soon!

      • tamcdonald

        Any plans for a NYC trip in the future?

  • http://www.swordandthescript.com/ Frank Strong

    Read the headline on RSS and my first thought was…when we cut out social media, we start doing other things. The story angle here though is completely different from that initial thought. I go away at least once a year for a couple weeks where I’m pretty much shut off from social. Often when I get back, I feel as if its a bit like starting over, which is equal parts reinvigorating and daunting all the same.

    Leaving social is like taking a drop of water out of a glass.

  • Martha Brettschneider

    Wonderful observations! Very much in line with the book Hamlet’s Blackberry! As someone balancing mindfulness practice with building a social media presence, I really appreciated your perspective.

  • Meredith Blevins

    I’m a writer. Have been for years. I started doing some social media, am doing more. But here’s the thing: With all this virtual socializing going on, away flies the time for real creating, making beauty, doing whatever it is you want to sell or pitch. I’m an old broad, so maybe I have a different perspective, but I feel sad when I see a family out to dinner and every one of them has their iphone out, texting away. I am hopeful it’s a blip on the screen. That it came at us so fast we swallowed it whole. And, that soon we’ll get back to real stuff. Doesn’t mean laying down the new, just setting different priorities. Thanks for raising this issue, Jason.

  • JimYoungPRBrigade

    Interesting article Jason, it’s nice to get a
    reality check on our ‘social lives’!

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