What Happens When You Stop Being Social

A posting hiatus leads to interesting observations

by Jason Falls |

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.


About the Author

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).