What Would Happen If You Took A Break From Social Media?
What Would Happen if You Took a Break from Social Media?
What Would Happen if You Took a Break from Social Media?

Every once in a while we have the opportunity to read or view something that stops us in our tracks. Scott Stratten’s recent Oakville TEDx talk, Keep going until you stop, qualifies (an absolute must see).

Scott’s talk prompted me to take a deeper look at a couple of things – our evolving relationship with technology and its impact on our ability to be genuinely engaged. The love affair with social media can be a doubled-edged sword, both an investment and a cost. Once you step on the social media conveyor it’s pretty easy to just keep going, hyper connected 24/7/365. But to what end? How many of us assess the value of the time we spend online? Are we really “connected” and adding value to meaningful relationships or just killing time waiting for that next post, tweet or update?

Let’s start by clearing the air – this post isn’t about social media being evil and I’m not “that guy”, telling you to change your ways, or else. I live in the glass house :) I get it – I’m a small business owner who depends on new marketing. But I do struggle with maintaining a digital balance (adding/extracting value vs. wasting time) and life balance (screen time vs. face time). Frankly, sometimes I feel like a bit of sucker when I get caught up in the game.

It could be said that we’ve developed some level of dependency on social media – I don’t like to go as far as referring to it as social media addiction (I think that trivializes some of the real battles people face). But there is no arguing that we’ve developed certain patterns of behaviour that could be cause for concern. Scott Stratten talks about the feeling of dread when he realizes he left his Blackberry in the car – for me it’s the sense of dropping the ball when I can’t get to Google Reader and share links on Twitter. What is it for you?

In the end, I think engagement is the most important barometer – it’s not just the Holy Grail of social media but of all personal and professional relationships. My goal will be to focus more on being truly engaged online/offline while cutting out some of the fluff – and not beating myself up too much for taking an occasional break from social media. How about you?

Lastly, here’s a great gut check about getting lost online from Chris Brogan:

“Ask yourself what the top 3 priorities are: for the day, for your role, for your business, for your home life. Look at these lists of three. Do they make sense? Is that what you’re spending your days doing? If not, you’re still lost.”

Technology is embedded in our lives and I get the sense that many of us struggle with engagement and balance. I’d love to get your opinions on this. Does the thought of taking a social media break scare the crap out of you? How do you stay really engaged? How do go about achieving a digital/life balance? The comments are yours.

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About the Author

Mark Smiciklas
Mark Smiciklas is a Digital Strategist, author and President of Intersection Consulting; a Vancouver based digital marketing agency that teaches organizations how to leverage the dynamics of the web to achieve business goals. Mark is an established marketing and social media practitioner recognized for his visual thinking and practical strategic approach. You can connect with him on Google+.
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  • Wow, I can totally relate to this article. Lately I've been spread thin supporting my clients with their own social media efforts and activities. I haven't been able to engage /connect on my own sites because I am literally “spent”. There is so much time spent on planning and preparing, online research, seeking and selecting specific followers to offer value to them…And then to create the content or service around their needs(which changes from week to week) Then there is the actual engagement. I spend alot of time reading feeds and RTing – and think that sometimes something has to give. I have felt a sense of dread and of guilt when I can't spend time connecting with my community, the way I truly want to connect (conversations). I am not a small talk person,Although small talk can drive a deeper conversation. We have 8-10 hours per day. For those of us whose offices are at home, our schedule is somewhat flexible vs. Corporate or business schedule (9-5) so it is easy to “lose track of time” online. I want my time to be focussed and heading in the right direction. Calls come in and it's easy for me to spend 1-3 hours with a prospect sharing and engaging on the subject of utilizing social media around their business. One thing is for sure, there is so much more to social media than tweeting and commenting. That is why I am finally building a team that can balance me out. It is OK to step back and take a short break. I push away the guilt and give myself permission to be free because when I get back into the game, I am refreshed, renewed, and often armed with fresh tactics and strategies. I tell myself that if I worked in corporate I would be on at 8:00am with lunch at noon, fit in workouts, and off at 5 or 6. I don't need to be on til 10pm or 2am (which as been part of a bad habit fir me these days) there are sunsets to watch, beaches to walk on, friends to see, and movies to watch! ;). Merry Christmas everyone

  • Becca Brooks

    Gant, I like your drug analogy. As sad as it is, Facebook is my vice, and a source for information pointless and useful. For example, I had no idea that we would be experiencing a lunar eclipse late last night. But around 2 am when I started to notice all my friends' statuses were about it. So sure enough, I learned that the Sun, Earth and Moon were perfectly aligned through social media, not from my parents or just looking outside. Our generation relies on others for information, and the thought of taking a break from this scares me. Now, I'm not some dependent mooch who prowls around on the web all day to find something interesting, but I do rely on social media for a lot of my news. Taking a break sounds invigorating yet frightening.

    Becca Brooks
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Gant Lee

    Wow, great post!

    Since a majority of the people have taken what I would like to say, I would like to contribute a good analogy. If George Lucas were to have made the prequel Star Wars movies right after he finished Return of the Jedi, then people would have been burnt out on it. Likewise, I feel as if too many tweets can burn out the interest of the account. If you do something well, then you don't want to waste all of your good ideas and strategies all at the beginning

    On the other hand though, I think it is important to have a consistent presence on the web. Your viewers need to know you're still there and that you haven't abandoned them.

    Social Media is like a drug. The right amount gives you a good feeling, and over-dosing can be real bad.

    Gant Lee
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Strategic Communications

  • Jordan Griffis

    Taking a break from social media scares me. Big time. Which probably means I use social media too much because I'm definitely one of those people who is on facebook just to be on facebook or checks my twitter feed just because I'm not doing anything else.
    I guess the what I've taken from this is not so much to use less social media, but that if I'm going to give so much time to social media, I should be actively engaging with people and doing things, rather than scrolling aimlessly through my newsfeed with the TV on in the background.
    Jordan Griffis
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Sarah West12

    I think that it would not be hard for me to step away from social media. It is not something that I have to have but is something that sometimes depending on the day, consumes much of my time. I think staying connected is very important. In my mind I am always worried that maybe something has happened that I need to know about. Maybe someone has been in a car wreck, had a baby, gotten engaged or something else life changing has happened. When things like that happen we usually tell our closes friends and then post it as a status or something less personal but still informs the rest of the world, or at least our friends who will see our status on their news feed. I don’t usually care about all the other little things that people post unless it is something big than I just skim right over it. I think that me being this way means that I’m not as in need of social media as many other people are. I wonder how the U.S would do if everyone did not use social media for one day? To me that is somewhat of a scary thought but one to consider for sure.

    Thanks for the post.

    Sarah West
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

  • Kylie Paul

    I agree that the key to having a healthy relationship with social media is balance, something mine does not have. I think many of us (including myself) have become so attached to different forms of media that we go into panic mode with out it. I really liked what Greg said about how he realized he was often times on Facebook just to be on Facebook. This is something I've realized I do as well! Sometimes I will catch myself just sitting there with Facebook open with absolutely no reason to be logged on. With this realization I hope comes change. Although I love social media and could never abandon it completely, I need to do as you said and cut out the “fluff” and focus on engaging more both on and offline.

    Kylie Paul
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Rgdean

    Social Media is an interesting balance in my life. I think it was due to my lack of engagement that sort of killed it for me. A year back, I would have to be on Facebook. I would get back from class and get on Facebook. Wake up, get on Facebook. Eat while I was on Facebook. Then one day I realized I was never engaging in anything. I was on Facebook just to be on it. I was on other social media sites just to be on them, but not actively participate. This triggered a huge swing in my life. I usually forget to check Facebook now. I don't get on that often and usually have an inbox of all unread messages. I like the distinction you make about engagement being the most important barometer. Without engaging in what was going on, I realized I was just spending trivial minutes on a site. I'm sad that I never truly engaged in the topics and aspects of those sites at the time, but at the same time I am happy that it allowed me to distance myself. Social media is not addicting, but it is certainly habit forming. I now have a happy medium between my online engagement, and outside endeavors. I am happy with my level of social media interaction now. As a Strategic Communication student, I'm glad that I am learning the arts of social media engagement, rather than being a slave to it. Really interesting article. The core message really does sum up a big part of my life and social media.

    Greg Dean
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

  • I have taken an extended break from social media before. It was not a decision I made: I moved and did not have internet access for over a month. So what happened? I stopped playing Farmville and I got really behind in my online Social Media course: two things that can probably be argued are at the opposite ends of the good/bad results spectrum.
    However, I also go some weeks without participating in social media and I can tell you that those are the weeks I spend with my family at my childhood home. This relates to your comment: “engagement is the most important barometer.” So I might not be interacting online, but that’s because I’m being fulfilled socially offline. When I’m spending time in my tiny studio apartment I use social media to fulfill that need for interaction and connection: but I never beat myself up about it if I miss a tweet or status update.

    Heather Spencer
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Architecture

  • Weston Shepherd

    Weston Shepherd
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

    Since you were unwilling to go as far as to call it a “social media addiction” I will speak for myself and say it: I am addicted to social media. It's complete dependency and perhaps even to unhealthy levels. It's like when i first got a cell phone–I can't stop. I expected everything to lose it's novelty after a while but, obviously, it hasn't.

    Professor Handy has explained Twitter as a site for “narcissists” who think what they're doing is important enough to share. This is unfortunately true and the same goes for my Facebook and blog– I want everyone to think what I'm doing is as important as I do.

    And if I had to take a break, like any addict, I would go through withdrawals. Maybe even lose some sleep and weight. It's become my cell phone, schedule, notepad, etc. Without it I would lose touch and also lose my sense of importance in the world.

    OK, maybe not that far….but close.

  • Balance has been a definite goal lately but getting to that point is a process. I don’t think I could entirely give up social media because it has become too much a part of the daily routine and I see it having a lot of professional potential when I start my career but changes need to be made and that’s not new. During my social media experience I have come to many forks in the road and altered my behavior accordingly such as the epiphany that I probably shouldn’t post inappropriate pictures or litter my profile with profanity. Just as before I have reached a fork but this time instead of considering how to shape my Internet image I have to decide how much time I will put into it. I want to find a point where I am able to utilize the communication medium without it consuming my time. I have a friend who rarely accesses her Facebook, which has the benefit of not being tied down but I feel she is losing out on the potential to connect with those she has moved away from. I have other friends who thrive on notifications and make updates a priority over what’s going on in front of them. I am jut searching for that middle.

    Justin Yearwood
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Jessica Ann Green

    The thought of taking a break from social media is a little scary, I won’t lie, but it also seems so refreshing. There are days when I wish I didn’t care about updates and new tweets. I don’t have to post/tweet something every day to get my social media fix. I would rather not be a participant on Facebook or Twitter, but rather just be the fly on the wall taking in what others are doing with their days. I sign in and check my accounts to see if there was any activity I may have missed, but a quick read of my mini-feed is enough to satiate my social media appetite. A day without technology, which for my is really a day without my computer or my iPhone would be my worst nightmare. The computer I could live without, but only because my iPhone is a mini computer packed full of my interests in the form of apps. The iPhone would be the real kicker. I would most likely go into withdrawls. I can’t even go to class without it. However, a day without it may begin a little scary, but with enough preparation to notify any prospective caller/anybody that would want to contact me that day that I would be unreachable would enough for me to truly appreciate the gift I was giving myself. A day without social media and technology every once in a while isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t think I would be able to make it a regular thing. I love my ability to connect with people almost instantaneously, and its just too hard to function without the option.

    Jessica Green
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Sarah Moser

    At first I thought there is no way that I could take a break from social media, but then I realized it might not be such a bad idea. I feel like everyone needs a little break from social media to reconnect with the real reasons as to why we get on social media in the first place. For some people social media means to keep in touch with family/friends who live in another state/country. For others social media means to reach a target audience about a certain product/service, in the end we are all trying to connect with all types of people.

    It's sad to people delete their social media sites because they feel like it is getting to cluttered with people's everyday routines or silly games that make you waste a good part of your day. Because of that I feel that the digital world is slowly sucking us away from the real world, and I agree that people need to find a balance between the world. I admit that I get on the computer as soon as a get home or in a classroom to check my Facebook, then I realize that what I am looking at is not adding any value to my life.

    I believe everyone needs to take a step back and really think about what they are about to send in the world, and is it going to add some value not only to your life but to others out there who visit your social media site.

    Sarah Moser
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Kim Duncan

    I am definitely addicted to Social Media. I'm not afraid to admit it! I took a break from Facebook for 6 months about 2 years ago. At the time, i really liked it because i didn't have to deal with any “drama” and it was actually really nice. But, of course, I felt like I was missing out on a lot because i had no idea what my friends were doing. It's easier for all of us to keep each other updated on Facebook then take the time to make a phone call every week. I know that sounds dumb, but it's true. However, I do think it's important that you make time to actually speak to your friends, family, etc. Nothing takes the place of face to face time with someone, and I think a lot of people have forgotten that. I know i panic whenever i don't have my phone on me, or if Facebook and Twitter stop working. I'm not sure what I think I'm missing out on, but the idea of it stresses me out enough to hope it never happens. Maybe it's just my generation, because my parents definitely aren't dependent on technology whatsoever. It seems that the social media addiction is starting younger and younger though- my 14 year old brother absolutely cannot put his iPhone down for more than 5 seconds. he texts all through family dinners, outings, etc. A lot of my friends even have Facebook notifications sent to their phones like a text message so they'll know the minute somebody writes on their wall. That seems a little too obsessed though- why do we feel the need to keep up with all these things? what do we think we're missing out on? I don't have the answers, i'm just honest enough to admit the idea of getting rid of social media is not a pleasant one.

    Great article, I really enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing with us.
    Kim Duncan
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media & Strategic Communication

  • Tamera Davis

    I would have to agree that many people are addicted to social media, some more than others. I am the first to admit that I am slightly addicted. I check my Facebook and Twitter everyday more than once and even more than twice. I like your aspect of saying if people are really engaging when they are using social media or if they are wasting time. I have to admit that many times when I am on Facebook and Twitter I am just passing time. Unless I am doing something specific, then I am usually just engaging in fun, but nevertheless, meaningless conversation. Since people spend so much time using social media then they should spend that time engaging in something important while using the social media. To think of taking a real break from social media, and completely not getting on Facebook and Twitter for longer than a couple of days, or a week, I believe I would feel very disconnected and not in the loop of what is going on. Great article.

    Tamera Davis
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Strategic Communications

  • Samantha McWilliams

    As a Facebook group once said, “Call me Mr. Facebook, I can make your grades drop”—a parody of “Bedrock” by Lil Wayne, this often times seems to be the theme of many semesters of some college students if there’s not a balance between digital/life balance. There have been many times I’ve waited patiently in the library looking around; over half of the computers are being used for Facebook instead of school work. I’ve always wondered how much more time students and I would spend studying if it weren’t for Facebook and other social networking sites.

    I’m not the first one to admit—I’m addicted. My dad can’t stand it when we are on our phones around family, but anytime someone had theirs out and was on Facebook or the internet, I couldn’t fight the urge to stay off mine. THIS is how I knew I was addicted—maybe more to my phone than social media, but I admit, I have made social media a part of my everyday life.

    I can stay keep off of the computer; however I couldn’t imagine leaving my iPhone at home. iPhone apps help eliminate a lot of the clutter on social media sites, especially with the ever-changing Facebook. The web version of Facebook has made it easier if I’m away from it for too long by hitting the “most recent” feed, eliminating people I don’t usually engage with—but Facebook for iPhone doesn’t sift through people I don’t connect with often and Twitter will tell me I have hundreds of new tweets if I’m not on it for just a few hours. This is the main reason why it’s hard for me to “take a break” from social media.

    Samantha McWilliams
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Strategic Communications

  • Samantha Powell

    I think this blog has put into context what all social media fanatics already know but don't want to admit. I am a victim of a social media addict. While I know every bit of the article is true, its hard to face reality.

    Lauren Kempf's argument is true, that it is all about time management, but if my generation's time management skills are reflected in any way as to how much time we spend on Facebook and Twitter, then we are in big trouble!

    I had a friend who gave up Facebook for Lent last year. She said she honestly had no idea what to do with herself the first few days. She ended up reading several books within the first week! I cannot tell you the amount of people I have heard in college tell me, “I love to read, I just don't have the time to read for pleasure anymore.” Her sacrifice of social media proved to me that we all have plenty of time, it is just occupied by staring at a screen to learn what everyone is doing.

    I admit i spend too much time on Facebook. Twitter and other social media sites aren't tempting to me in the least, but if I am bored enough I will still log in. I have gone without Facebook and can honestly say that I am fine without it IF i am occupied and busy. If I am sitting around and have nothing to do, I go crazy without the ability to access Facebook. Its almost as if I can no longer relax.

    I agree with you and Samantha Wilson when you say engagement is the most important part. If I didn't have the ability to comment on people's wall or like people's statuses, I wouldn't enjoy it as much. I feel like that is why I don't like Twitter as much, because I feel I cant engage as easily.

    Thanks so much for this post. I enjoyed reading it!

    Samantha Powell
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

  • Samantha Wilson

    I've experienced this break from social media. Once a year, my family and I go down to a cabin in southern Oklahoma where there's no Internet access. When there, I feel so disconnected from the world. Therefore, I can definitely understand the dependency on social media, as its another form of communication. When I got back home, the first thing I do online was check Facebook and Twitter so I could catch up.

    I'll admit that I spend too much time on social media sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter. I definitely get anxious if one of them isn't working. However, I don't think I've made any lasting relationships through those sites, unless I already knew the person before adding them as a friend or follower. I can admit though that I'm addicted to those sites because they offer a distraction from work. Despite that, I still think I keep a good balance between the digital and real world because I always manage to get my work done on time.

    I agree that engagement is the most important part. Without responding to tweets or Facebook updates, there would really be no point for those sites. I think this is partly how you can stay engaged, and I fully agree that engagement shouldn't be just fluff. I definitely think people need to think before they post, as the ending quote suggests.

    Samantha Wilson
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Michael Dozzi

    The title of this article automatically caught my attention and made me want to read more. A BREAK from social media!? Oh wow. I can’t even imagine going a day without it, let alone a few hours. How awful. It’s such a big part of my life and hopefully my future employment. Social media is something I absolutely love and engage in daily. Am I a little dependent on it? Okay yes maybe a little, I admit it.

    While being a little dependent on it, I don’t find it distracting me from my school work or daily activities at all. It just depends on the person I guess. For some, these social media sites are extremely distracting and cause them to participate in a constant game of tug-o-war with their school work. I don’t deal with this problem. Do I do random Facebook or Twitter check and updates during homework? Yes. However, the sites never keep me on there long enough to prevent me from finishing what needs to get done, which I am very thankful for. I simply use them as a little ‘water break.’ It’s different for all people.

    I view it all similarly to how Smiciklas put it. “Technology is embedded in our lives and I get the sense that many of us struggle with engagement and balance.” It’s true! Technology is obviously a large part of our lives and it’s all about how we choose to use. It’s all about mastering the art of balance and focus. There are times where these social media sites have made me struggle slightly; however, over the years of my use, I think I’ve finally mastered this balance and not allowed these sites to take over my life.

    Hope others learn master this art as well! Wonderful article!

    Michael Dozzi
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Sarah King

    There does need to be a balance in our social networking life, I had a conversation with someone at work who asked me if I played games on facebook: in my opinion that is a time waster and unnecessary. The amount of time we spend on social media changes the we communicate in person meaning it seems easier sometime to send a message or post to someone than to talk to them in person, I know at times I feel more comfortable doing that and not knowing what to say in person.

    A challange was issued to me to not get on facebook or other social media cites for a day and notice how much time extra time I have to get other necassary things done, being a student that would be homework. This challange didnt include sites such as research for papers, which is not a time waster. I noticed there are a lot more boring moments in my day but the break was nice to have to worry about getting on facebook, keeping up with people, getting distracted and not working on things. It was actualy refreshing taking a social media break.

    Sarah King
    Oklahoma State University
    Strategic communications

  • Lauren K

    I believe it is all about balancing your time responsibly. Although it is important to take care of your daily priorities whether it be for your business, home life, etc., it is OK for you to spend some time “getting lost” in the Internet.

    In response to Megan's post a few comments down I have to agree that even though many people abuse social media outlets for leisurely purposes, I look to my Facebook/Twitter as a news outlet. I use my social media platforms as an opportunity to keep learning new things whether it be breaking news, an update about what a company is doing or even an opinion on a restaurant. That being said, everyone looks to social media for different purposes.

    I have recently started blocking out the first 30 minutes of my online time to go to a credible news site and update myself on local/ national issues. I think it is important to know the hard facts about an issue before taking it to a social media outlet and discussing it without knowing what it is you are talking about and it makes you look more credible.

    Lauren Kempf
    Oklahoma State University
    Strategic Communications

  • Joshua Coffman

    Facebook is not nearly of a distraction as youtube is for me. For many youtube may not really be a form of social media but for me it is. I go to school at Oklahoma State University but home for me is in Texas about 4 1/2 hours away. I rarely go home to see my friends but one of them constantly puts up youtube videos of them. Nothing special really just the usual trouble we used to get in “back in the day.” When I have long assignments for class I usually take a break to watch his videos and then I find myself watching another and another to the point of severe procrastination. I was more like that with Facebook my first year away from home when being away from those friends were harder for me to deal with so I was constantly facebooking them. Since then it has become easier for me to remove myself from Facebook. Recently though I purchased a Blackberry Torch and I have been getting used to instant Facebook and Twitter updates. I was disconnected from the internet last week and found it hard to kill down time without it.

    Joshua Coffman
    Strategic Communications
    Oklahoma State University

  • Great post! Extremely refreshing! I’ve of people saying, “I bet if you gave up all that Facebook and Twitter you’d be so surprised at how much you get done.” Well actually, probably not. Being so obsessed (in sync? Plugged in? connected?) with Social Media IS being productive, if as you say, you are using it correctly and lining it up with your goals. Lets think about the tons of people that have found interesting and hard to find jobs because of Social Media, or increased revenue for a small business because of marketing their business on a Social Media outlet? These are all results of people who are “obsessed” for lack of a better word, with Social Media and are using it properly. Now I must confess, I have taken several breaks from Social Media in the past. Several times that I can think of, I have found myself stagnant on Facebook; using it to keep me company during a boring lecture or a layover. I wasn’t being productive and it was honestly hindering me from doing things I actually needed to do so I could be productive. So I deactivate my Facebook account. There are probably less extreme means of being more productive, but this is the route I have taken. It is usually only for a week or two, until I either get into a more productive mindset in which I A. Study more B. Do my Homework C. Pay attention to my dog or D. Exercise more. Hey, everyone has different priorities. When I do reactivate my account, I do feel somewhat like an outsider and that I’ve missed this huge party, but then I settle back in and check to see if much has changed on the fronts that I really care about, i.e. Business pages, Non-profit pages, etc.
    Bottom line, I think whether or not it’s OK to take a break from Social Media totally depends on what purpose Social Media serves you or your business. If you use Social Media as only a way to connect with friends and socialize, then I believe that you are in the clear for the most part. But on the flip side if Social Media is a integral part of your brand or business, then it would be a monumental mistake to take a break.

    Damaris Pierce
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

  • Megan

    I am absolutely addicted to social media; but at least I'm not in denial. This is what I've grown up around and am comfortable with. Yeah, if I wanted to quit, I probably couldn't do it. You said, you feel dread when you can't get google reader and sharing links on twitter to work. Well, dread for me is when twitter is over capacity. More than that, I feel dread when facebook isn't working. It has only happened once or twice in 5 years but I remember it vividly. With the inventions of the iphone and other smart phones, it is easy to rely on outlets such as twitter and facebook. Like other college students, I find out a lot of news through these two websites. Of course, it is not the only place I get my news from, but it is the fastest way for me to know what is going on around me. A few weeks ago, there was a shooter in Stillwater and I found out via facebook. These social outlets are making life easier and whether or not we want it to happen, it is easy to be “infatuated” with both.

    Megan Wright
    Oklahoma State University
    Strategic Communications

  • Rylie

    I am currently in a social media class, which required us to create a Twitter account. I had already had a Twitter account but I never used it because on Facebook I never update my status anyway. I just don't feel what I have to say is important. But with this class I've come to realize more and more that today, social media is a must have. These generations are all about the media and being on the computer and keeping up with technology. If you aren't keeping up with your target audience, then you will ultimately fail.

    I can't imagine leaving the house without my phone. I was in San Francisco for 4 days about two years ago and I vowed to not use my phone for the whole time I was there. It was torture and let's just say I cracked. I don't ever even use my phone that much. I text mostly, but I rarely call. I don't have an iphone or anything. I don't even have the internet on my phone but because it's the only way people can get a hold of me, I feel like I have to have it all the time in case I miss something important. My generation should be called the generation of impatience. We don't have to wait for anything. Regardless of what we need, it's pretty much within reach and at the tip of our fingertips.

    I have recently kept up more and more with Twitter and I love it. I don't do status updates, but I love to read what other people have to say. I follow PR firms and things that have to do with social media and a lot of the times they put up articles that are useful. I also follow a few of my professors on there, which is also useful.

    Rylie Burns
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Paige Pantlik

    I care about the mundane things I am doing like going to class or stuck in traffic etc. At first I just considered Twitter to be a Web Site dedicated to status updates. I am slowly becoming more familiar with it. admire people who keep up with theri social media accounts on a regular basis. I wish I could be as consistent. I do admit to getting on facebook quite often, it would be scary to see how many times I actually check facebook on a daily basis. But I am not as comfortable with Twitter. I think this is because I never update my facebook status, mainly because I just don't think people

    Paige Pantlik
    Oklahoma State University
    Strategic Communications

  • Jordan Parsons

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I feel as though I'm not as relient on social media as some people I know, but I will admit if I leave our house without my cellphone, even if I'm just running a quick errand, I feel like my brain is back at home.

    I'm constantly relying on the calendar and notes section of my phone to get by. As far as social Web sites goes, I admitingly say I'm constantly checking Facebook. Twitter is still something I'm trying to master and I typically don't spend as much time tweeting as I do posting things on Facebook.

    I agree with what Madison says…as soon as something happens or as soon as our newborn son makes a “new” face, I'm taking a picture and uploading to Facebook.

    Thanks for the article and allowing me to share my thoughts!

    Jordan Parsons

    Oklahoma State Univeristy

    School of Media and Strategic Communications

    • Thanks for posting a comment Jordan. There is a common theme developing in a lot of the posts with respect to the importance of our phones – as mobile technology continues to evolve i.e. smart phones, 4G, etc. it will be interesting to see how our social media usage changes.

    • Chelsea McGuire

      I used to have the same problem with my Droid (used to be Crackberry). I would forget it at the house and all I could think about was what I was missing. As soon as I would get home I would run over to my phone and check it.
      This has changed this semester though. Last year I was the president of RHA and had to have my phone and Outlook with me at all times. I was always running around checking tasks off my list and talking to my executive board. This semester things are more laid back and I have learned that it’s ok to take time out for myself…. Maybe take a nap. Sometimes it takes an overload of communication to learn to leave your phone behind and stop and smell the roses.
      When it comes to social media, I will admit I am a Facebook junky, but I find that the times I involuntarily avoid Facebook are the times that I am actually out living, having fun and learning.
      Facebook was created as a space to document our lives for everyone to see, but it has created a world within its self. We not only document with it, we communicate and interact within it. It is hard to distinguish what is going on within cyberspace and what it going on offline.
      Chelsea McGuire
      Oklahoma State University
      School of Media and Strategic Communications

  • Teresa Rogge

    Mark, I have to say that I am not too concerned with taking a break from social media. I actually think it is relieving at times when I am on vacation or just away from a computer. I have lost my phone multiple times in the past and every time I go through this “feeling of dread” because I am suddenly cut off from the world. That may sound dramatic, but really our phones have become a major connection to our friends and family. But once I calm myself down, I realize it is not the end of the world and is actually quite soothing.

    I agree, it is so easy to become addicted (or dependent) to social web sites. I also agree that many of the things I become engaged in are “fluff” as you call it. I think it is a good idea for everyone to take a minute and decide what is important to them and what they will spend their time engaging in when on social web sites.

    Very insightful, Mark!

    Teresa Rogge
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

    • Thanks Teresa. Great point about taking a minute to decide what's important before engaging online – That step alone goes a long way towards building more meaningful conversations.

  • Madison

    Great Article! Like Brian, I am grateful that someone is rationalizing my obsession with social media. I, like probably every other college student, check Facebook and Twitter constantly. I have found that my engagement with Facebook is more natural than my engagement with Twitter. By that I mean, tweeting isn't the first thing that comes to my mind when something happens. On the other hand, if something cool happens, the first thing I do is take a picture and upload it to Facebook.

    I wish I could turn off my phone for a day, but I don't think I would function. However, I would pay a lot more attention in my classes and be more productive with my time.

    Thanks for the post!

    Madison Longust
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

    • Hey Madison – Thanks for dropping by with a comment and for offering some insight into how you use social media. A recent study showed that Twitter popularity is on the rise…but still only represents 8% usage in the U.S. Your comment about engagement seems to support the fact that Facebook still rules as a primary social tool for Gen Y- but it's cool to see that you and your peers are also using Twitter.

      p.s. I know for a fact that you're not alone when it comes to the challenge of detaching from your phone – My baby step was to turn my iPhone to “silent” mode and only check it every 20 minutes…and that was brutally difficult :)

  • Kate Ludewig


    I have no idea what I would do without social media in my life. I am constantly checking Facebook each day. Like you said above, it's not an addiction, but it is a lifestyle. I would say that social media is a huge part of life for people my age (22 and a student), but the reality is social media is open and affects people of all ages. I remember when Facebook was just for college student to keep in touch. Now it is used as a promotional strategy for millions of companies.

    With my major being public relations, it is very important for me to understand as many social media sites as I can. For many companies, there are now positions specifically catered just to social media strategies. I could not imagine my life without social media interactions.

    When I had to get my iPhone fixed a couple of weeks ago, I thought my world was crashing around me. I had to use one of my old phones, which came from ancient times. I am used to hitting the Facebook app and seeing what my friends are up to. I am used to updating my Twitter when I am waiting for my class to start.

    I am currently enrolled in a great social media class that is helping me with a problem you mentioned about fluff v. substance. Before this class, I would update my Facebook with just junk. Now, I am able to update it with substance and important information. With Twitter, I am now tweeting interesting articles and blogs. I think this is something all social media users need to learn. Substance helps publics engage in conversation and produces new ideas.

    Kate Ludewig
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

    • Thanks for the comment Kate. Great to hear that your social media class is paying dividends with respect to your content strategy – you can never go wrong sharing relevant and useful information with your audience :)

  • Stephanie Rowe

    I constantly say that I am going to turn off my phone for a day and see what happens. I wouldn't respond to any e-mail, texts, phone calls or Facebook statuses. Facebook would probably be the only tool that didn't suffer from not using it for a day. However, every time I start to think that I am actually going to participate in this experiment, something comes up with one of my organizations that I feel shouldn't be put off for a day. I'm pretty sure that I could come up with an excuse every time just because I don't want to let go of being connected.

    As for Facebook, I could probably go longer than I day without using in, but then I wonder what I would actually do with my time. It's not that I consider Facebook a top priority in my life, but I do use it as a way to connect with my friends who live in different states and to cure my boredom. It doesn't scare me to give up my Facebook for a time because I know that there are other ways to stay connected, so it might actually be nice to give it up for a few days to see what all I could get accomplished in the time that I would generally spend on Facebook.

    • Thanks for the comment Stephanie. It sounds like you're offering value to your organizations and gaining value by connecting with friends through social media – sounds good to me. I think we all just need to more mindful of killing time on social media without those value propositions. That's when it might be better to go for a walk or read a book :)

  • Great comments. Finally, someone who brings up the obsessive use of social media with a reasonable solution or, at least, evaluation. Social media is now a part of our lives in business, school, work and of course friends; it's not going anywhere. The explanation of engagement being the reason for social media is so true. The whole point of social media is to network and connect with other people, interests and topics. Engage, share, receive feedback, discover-all these things require action, not aimless browsing. Your ideas provide a purpose to social media use-a concept some people are searching for an answer to. I will feel more guilt free if the time I use on my laptop and phone several times throughout the day was a result of an intended purpose. I think mindless social media is something everyone could use a “break” from; I know I could.

    Again, great thoughts.

    Brian Smith
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communication

    • Thanks for the insightful comments Brian…and for referring to me as a voice of reason :) Your point about “mindless social media” really resonated with me – social media with purpose is the key…whatever that purpose is.

  • Interesting points, Mark. And I agree.

    However, I believe social media isn't really a choice for small business owners, students like myself–or heck, anyone any more. It is an integrated part of our lives, a part we'd surely go haywire without.

    As an accidental social experiment, if you will, I lost my phone. (Yes, of course I have it back now and all is normal again, thank you.) It was horrible timing, the eve before a gang of friends were coming to town. I had to rely on my computer, the Internet–mainly Twitter and Facebook chat–to connect. To make this story short, I got in touch with my friends and we had a great time. If it weren't for that constant connection, I doubt the reunion would've been possible. However, I also experienced the other side of the coin: I had a slew of nasty texts and voice mails on my retrieved cell. “Why aren't you answering me!?” With panic and urgency seemed to be the most common.

    It seems as if we're not constantly connected, the world turns against us. So my question for you is, how do we unplug without getting drained?

    Thanks again for the article, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    L. Taylor Nixon
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Media and Strategic Communications

    • Thanks for the comment and for the anecdote. Interesting point about the frustration of your friends not being able to connect – that has a lot of parallels in the business world. Organizations need to be aware that expectations around service and response time have changed with the advent of real time communication channels like Twitter. So yes, I agree that it makes perfect business sense to stay connected – but I think we can still do that while maintaining some semblance of balance.

      I think the answer to your question lies in understanding the strength of your relationships. Connections that have been nurtured and built on foundations of knowledge, trust and value are rock solid – those folks simply won't jump ship because you didn't respond immediately. If they do…probably not worth having as friends, customers, etc. So that's what I take solace in during my down time – that the deposits I've made in my social media and face to face “accounts” are greater than the value of my withdrawals while unplugged. So far so good :)

  • KT

    Yes I agree with you on some of the points you made. Technology is embedded in our lives. it is a daily thing that cannot be denied. I check email and FB several times a day. I feel naked without my cell phone for my text messages and voice calls while on the go. When I travel I now have to have my digital camera, mp3 player, Tom Tom, laptop, and all the various chords and chargers to go with them all. So yes I too have developed a dependency of sorts. I also agree that engagement is important. But when I ask myself “what the top 3 priorities are: for the day, for your role, for your business, for your home life” social media only makes up a couple of those answers for me. Actually, priority is a little strong of a word to put social media on the list. The priorities for my day would consist of taking care of my dogs, eating, and showering. For my role would be homework, homework, & homework. my business priorities would consist of dressing for work, being on time for work, and performing my job duties. And finally my home life priorities would be paying bills, cleaning, and errands. Social media does play an important role in my world, but I cannot bring myself to consider in the top 3 priorities in the different aspects of it. I can also honestly say that I dread the day that I cannot balance the importance of social media and priorities.

    Katherine Sutherland
    Oklahoma State University
    School of Arts & Sciences

    • Thanks for the comment Katherine – it sounds like you have some perspective. No doubt that technology is interwoven into the fabric of our daily lives. I believe that social media plays an important role in keeping us connected – helping build the types of digital relationships that were impossible a mere 10 years ago. Social media is here to stay – the challenge lies in not forgetting about the power of old school face-to-face interaction.

  • Quite frankly, Mark when I first read your post title I was startled! Say what?! take a beak of social media? It felt as ridiculous and absurd as the though that I might wake up tomorrow and I realize that I turned into a banana!
    But as I started reading on, your thoughts definitely talked some sense into me.
    Yes, we need to create balance I our lives and say NO to the social media temptation. I agree with you 100%. Also, the two hours or so per day that we will dedicate to social media must be planned and well-utilized.
    Thanks a lot for raising this issue. It came just in time for me!

    • Thanks for the comment. Your point about time well spent is bang on – understanding how social media contributes to the achievement of your goals (personal or professional) is critical.

  • Zoe

    This is a great post– I really love the depiction of the endless conveyor-belt we put ourselves on when we get involved in social media! You might like YourTango.com's video spoof about social media addiction. It chronicles a family's struggle to cope with a mom who can't stop tweeting and playing Farmville. It's hilarious, but it also makes me wonder if something like that is really in our future.

    Here's the link to that video: http://www.yourtango.com/201064181/social-media-addiction-are-you-risk

    • Thanks Zoe – glad you dig the visual. I checked out the video – really well done and pretty funny…but like you said maybe equally scary.

  • As someone who is starting out in this whole blogging, social media, marketing … blah blah world I feel like I HAVE to engage everyday. Truth is I probably don't but I feel like if I'm not a part of the conversations I will be forgotten. Honestly there is no balance yet. It's nothing but a frenzied rush for every Tweet. It's sounds like I'm kidding but I'm not. Building up an audience is hard work (I'm not telling all of you something you don't already know). I will find a balance soon but … not yet.

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree that building up an audience is hard work – what I find interesting is the perceived fragility of some of our social media relationships. We need to collectively question the value of relationships that can't sustain a few days of inactivity. If that's true, Malcolm Gladwell's assertion that social media is built on weak ties has some merit. Personally, I like to believe that the segment of your online community that was nurtured wouldn't disappear :) Good luck in finding the balance when the time is right.

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this post Mark. I conducted my own test during the holidays this past week. I think I opened my laptop twice, did not blog.etc etc. It was sobering for me to say the least. I enjoyed Scott's video as well and it was a nice refreshing perspective like your post is today. It is definitely OK to not tweet or status update. It actually gives you the therapy you need to go back to your job and perform better in my opinion. Its showing that you are not lying in a vat of mucus puke plugged into the matrix but that you are making a choice of when its needed and when it is not. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Thanks Jonathan – glad you enjoyed the post. I think more people would likely take a break now and then if they viewed their social media use as “lying in a vat of mucus puke plugged into the matrix” – that visualization worked for me :)

  • I am a big fan of the pre-SM Covey book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Like Chris Brogan's way of looking at things, Covey has us look at the big-picture roles in our lives and plan from there. Social media isn't one of my big roles – although you wouldn't always guess that if you were looking in from the outside.

    My time management guru (DH @AntiqueExpert Tony Duke) likes to ask me (incessantly) to assess whether I'm using Social Media as a tool, or whether it's running me.

    I have a list of rationalizations at the ready!

    • Thanks for the comment Beth – Our collective list of rationalizations might make another good blog post :)

  • I was just wondering about the same question myself as I would like to spend time off social media these holidays. What will happen if you stay out for, let's say… a week? I can't imagine. To stay off for even 8 hours is already a misery for me ( or perhaps, I have to seek help to this social media addiction I have, haha ). To answer your question, I simply listen… then, talk.

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  • I read my Facebook stream about once a day, check in on my FB page constantly for client/prospective client communication (when will we get notifications?!?), read my “Homegrown” Twitter list daily and only get to my “Global” Twitter list about once a week. This last one makes me feel guilty. It's full of thought leaders in my industry and I get TONS of ideas when reading through that list. In fact, it's the flood of ideas (and tweets I have to send myself to read later) that is the undoing of me reading this list. I simply don't have the time to react, blog, post, or reflect on what I read. It's too much. And I only follow 200ish people!

    I have a good problem now. I have more clients than time. Social media is what gives…but it's also what got me my success (in combination with good old-fashioned in person networking).

    In comparison with real problems, things are good but I definitely feel guilty for not getting to my thought leader list more often.
    Kerry Rego @kregobiz

    • Thanks for sharing your work flow and challenges Kerry. I'm the same when it comes to trying to stay caught up on my reading – it's tough to get it all in sometimes. In my opinion you have nothing to feel guilty about…skipping your thought leader list to work on other projects is totally cool. FYI – I've taken social media breaks to do much less professional things than client work…like going for a run or a long cycle…crazy, I know :)

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  • It is interesting to see a growing number of engaged digital and social media people start to question how much and why they use social media. It's something that I have wrestled with – and continue to wrestle with – for a long time. I can't say that I have come up with a magical solution but being aware you have a “problem” is the first step to dealing with it. I should add that one way to curb your social media usage is pursuing other interests. It sounds simple but often social media is a crutch to fill time.


    • Thanks for the insightful comments Mark. Great point about being aware – understanding the why/how around social media participation is really important…even though some folks may not like to call their relationship with social media a “problem” :)

  • Great article Mark. I often ponder this, both for myself and clients. Two thoughts:

    If you or your company starts, you must continue with a Twitter account for example, or take it down. Otherwise you leave a bad impression.

    Personally I feel what a lot of people do on social media is overkill. For a long time I worked tirelessly to build a following on Twitter, but looking back on it, the relationships that really turned into cash at the end of the day, were two connections, not hundreds. The rest are good friendships worth pursuing, but if I left for a week or two, nothing would change.

    • Thanks Patrick. Your comments highlight the challenge people face – if you start you can't stop. I think it's important to engage in social media at a volume/velocity that matches your organization's social capacity – starting out at a faster pace creates that pressure to carry on beyond your means.

      Also, a very interesting point about how many relationships one can successfully sustain on Twitter…or any social channel for that matter. I can't remember the source, but I recall reading that an individual's max network size settles in at around 150 people. I'm not sure if that makes it any easier to take time off, but I do agree that things probably wouldn't change that much for those that chose to take a social media break now and then.

  • Christina S.

    Thanks for writing this post, Mark. I often find myself in the situation you described. I haven't yet found the “perfect balance,” but I'm sure glad to know I'm not alone!

    • You're welcome Christina – glad you enjoyed it.

      p.s. You're definitely not alone :)

  • Mark: I ask myself that question often: What would happen? Would life go on? I mean, we all survived BEFORE the Internet, Google, cell phones, and … social media. As I say often, nobody dies in email marketing or social media (see #7 here: http://socialbutterflyguy.com/2010/11/16/20-truths/). Then again, it's easy to say/write that, but harder to actually practice it. As Danny Brown mentioned below, Scott's video was awesome, but I'm not sure he is living the word that he preaches. I spend a few days with Scott in Salt Lake for the UnBookTour we hosted for him. He's the man. He's genuine. He's real. He's just an all-around good dude. However, he was on his phone tweeting/IMing/texting most of the time. I understand WHY, but…

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory

    • Thanks for adding to the discussion DJ – your anecdote about Scott really highlights the point that it's easier said than done. Danny's comment about “time for customers” really resonates with me – balancing digital with face time is a great way to try to keep things balanced.

      Maybe asking a different question would help put things in perspective. What would happen if we took a break and became less engaged in all our face to face relationships – probably a lot worse than taking some time away from social media.

      • Bingo. The face to face stuff still wins. That being said, I believe strongly that the online/SM relationships help to SET UP the face to face as well as strengthen them after you've finally met that person. Thanks for geting me thinking.

  • paul_pruneau

    This is the most pertinent issue of the day.
    Especially for small businesses that need to realize demonstrable value for investment of their precious time and resources.
    I recently posted (http://bit.ly/9G8eyl) about the misunderstanding people have about what's really required for online success.
    Appreciate your timely question.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Hi Mark,
    This is interesting. I do spend quite a bit of time on Facebook, yes some of it is work, but the most part building relationships, with either people that want to connect with me through my blog, or other bloggers. I have built some good business relationships through social media, as well as make some friends.People that you can connect with at events and seminars, which is pretty cool I think.
    At the end of the day, we have a kinda cool way of generating business don't we.
    Social media is here to stay. Embrace it.

    • Thanks for the comment Pete. Agreed – social media is not a fad. From a business perspective, understanding the dynamics of the channels and how/why people use it makes a lot of sense. I think your point about using social media to bridge online with offline is really important – the idea that people buy from people can't be overstated.

  • Mark, I ponder these questions semi-regularly. Once you start doing all this uber-connectedness, it really is part of your DNA–for better or worse.

    I strive to find balance on a daily basis. I don't look at all this as a time filler or a time waster. I use it as a daily networking event that is always in full swing. That's how I've chosen to utilize the tools and platforms.

    However, different people get on board social media for different reasons and I think that's totally alright. My intentions may not be the same as yours and neither of us is right or wrong. But, as with all things, moderation is key. Nothing should ever be so dominant in our lives as to derail us or disconnect us from real life. That's the challenge with social media. Know your intent, maintain your focus, and then, it's all good. :->

    • Well said Amber – thanks for joining the conversation. I do agree that social media is either part of your DNA or it isn't…Jay Baer put it well (paraphrase): You can't “do” social, you have to be social. But I still like to think we have a choice when it comes to better or worse :) Great point about individual objectives and the fact that there is no right or wrong.

      • Thanks for the response, Mark. Enjoying the conversation. Thanks for getting it started ;->

  • To me it's necessary to take a short break once in awhile – to see the whole picture instead of making it a routine without proper goal/plan for ahead. It will be too risky to fall into the social time suck that way. Last month I took a few days off for vacation, although not completely but almost zero-internet access; it helped a lot. I had a good chance to think more about the 'future', what I plan to achieve in coming months. So after returning from the break, it's a whole new challenge to deal with new changes (i.e. facebook), new time management and priorities; not easy at all. The first few weeks were almost impossible, lots of catching ups and attending to clients responses etc. But later I was able to pick up the paces, gradually. What I think important is to not over-pressurize oneself to make drastic changes at once. Also, re-evaluate the new plans with existing conditions and how they can work better together for a positive result. Even if it takes time that's alright, make sure it's comfortable to your own timetable. That's my lesson from it. :)

    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • Scott's video was good, but it's a shame to see that he still seems to be on Twitter 24/7 – it's not really following through on the video message.

    What I find interesting about needing to take a break from social media is another question it opens up – what the heck are you doing with your clients? If you're social networking the bejeezus out of Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc, where are your clients fitting in?

    • Thanks for the comment Danny. In my books, client work trumps all other business related activities – the issue I see developing is clouded judgment when it comes to deciphering real work from “make work”. Without connecting social media inputs to business outputs, we all run the risk of spending all our time working – half the time on deliverables and the other half on Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc.

      Personally, as I started becoming busier with client projects I found it more and more difficult to sustain the speed of my social media conveyor – I really had to begin managing my time more effectively and CHOOSING not to fall into the trap of trying to do it all. I'm still working on the balance – but one thing I have learned is that I can be active on social media, still be learning, adding value, etc. without having to kill myself in the process.

  • Social media does take a big investment of time, but I feel like it's worth it instead of spending lots of money on ads. Engagement is certainly the key this day in age! Build your community one person at a time just like Seth Godin says.

    • Thanks for the comment Jeremy. I agree that social media can be great for building those individual relationships – the challenge for some organizations is embracing the organic nature of the process and the time commitment that is required. If there is no real (or even perceived) value, social media will always be viewed as a waste of time – and, frankly, for some companies it probably is.

  • Try it. Watch how you actually get things done and you finally make some money. This stuff is such a huge distraction.

    • Thanks for dropping by Jim. I agree that social media can be a distraction – but, if harnessed, it can also act as a powerful resource. Important factors to consider are the value of the time you invest (What is the opportunity cost?) and understanding how social media connects to your objectives. If your time online isn't working towards attaining those goals, it's time to reassess.

  • Jon Moody

    Interesting stuff – I think the most important aspect you mention is prioritising what you want to achieve. I also think you need time-limited social sprees among your organised day to open your mind to new ideas, information and connections.

    • Thanks for the comment Jon. I totally agree that inserting social media into your schedule is a great way to stay connected with networks and information. I think the challenge for many is the time-management component.

  • I took a 40 day break from social media. It helped me refocus and decide how I wanted to use social media. I kept an audio journal which you can listen to at: http://wp.me/paqsB-JQ

    • Thanks John. Cool idea to go on a “social media fast”. Some of us might find 40 days to be an eternity :) I'd love to hear a bit more know about your experiences around reconnecting with social media – Were there any “brand ramifications” (personal or otherwise)? What were some of the challenges after such a significant break?

      • Mark,

        Reconnecting was a tough decision. I almost didn't fire up Twitter or Facebook again. As the last day approached I thought a lot about how I wanted to re-engage. My biggest decision was to purposeful in my connections. As far as my personal brand goes, it actually helped a bit. People heard about the fast and were encouraged to do the same. Since then I've really tried to make sure that my connections have a purpose. I don't follow back just anyone on Twitter and I'm even more selective on Facebook. I'd rather build a brand slowly with trust and purpose than explode on the scene like a rock star.