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

by Mark Smiciklas |

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 also the managing editor at Solopreneur.ca and is an established marketing and social media practitioner recognized for his visual thinking and practical strategic approach. You can connect with him on Google+.