A Week Without Social Media – Here's What I Learned

7 days sans Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat et al.

November 2, 2017

Putting social media on pause for a week sounds easy. I've never felt that I couldn't live without social media. However, after almost an entire week off of social media (I'm posting this blog, but I won't be back on social media until Sunday), I've definitely learned quite a bit about just how difficult it can be to completely disconnect from social media for 7 days.

For this week off of social media (some of my friends have called it a digital detox) I decided to not be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, reddit, Medium, YouTube, and WordPress.

Now, there were some caveats to this experience. First of all, it's really hard to not encounter tweets, embedded YouTube videos, and don't get me started on all of the emails from LinkedIn. Basically, I was disconnected from all social media apps on my iPhone and I did my best to stay away from as much social media as possible.

Per my last blog post, it's been a long time since I wasn't on social media. 13 years of almost continuous use means that social media have worked their way into various aspects of my life. Social media are not just personal or professional...the entire digital engagement space is a melange of content, connection and creativity.

Perhaps most unsurprising of all, I missed Twitter the most. Twitter is my main access point for social media. It's a vital tool for my consulting business. Not being on Twitter felt like a part of my work week was missing. As if the usual office water cooler banter was happening, but I wasn't there to take part.

Twitter is also where I get a lot of daily news updates. The BBC, The Guardian, NPR, and The New York Times apps were already on my phone and I did check them a lot more often this week. It did feel that there was a bit more breadth to the news that I was reading.

Ironically, while I was off of social media, I often felt compelled to share and curate interesting things. Not being able to tweet in that sense felt like I was missing out on my usual work-related tasks. Twitter is essentially my digital office. However, I won't be paying $99 per month to have my tweets/account get an extra bump. (Funny how during my week off of Twitter I received a special email from Twitter)

I didn't miss Facebook at all. But, I did miss knowing what my friends and family were up to. Facebook has become the dominant channel for all things related to my personal life. While I am connected to some work-related groups, most of my Facebook activity revolves around friends and family. I wondered what was happening. Thankfully, email and texts kept those conversations happening.

Prior to my week off from social media I was entered into a group message thread on LinkedIn. For about 4 to 5 days straight, I received email notifications from LinkedIn with snippets of interaction from the group. In fact, LinkedIn is so heavy on email that it really felt like I wasn't "off" of LinkedIn during the week. Next time I do a social media detox, I'll definitely be turning off the dozen or so notification options for LinkedIn. (I literally just received another email from LinkedIn...thanks for letting me know I've had 26 profile views)

Apparently, Instagram misses me. Well, not really, but they did send me an email prompting me to come back to the app and see what I've been missing. I guess I've never been off of Instagram for this much time, because I've never received a prompt email like that before. I must admit, I almost looked.

During the week, I had a lot more time to respond to email. In fact, my inbox is almost at zero. A few people even emailed me to check in to see how the week away from social media was going.

I had planned on reading more via my Kindle this week. Having a 5 month-old-son means that almost all extra time gets funneled to him. So, less social media, more time with Jude. Sorry, Kindle, I see you on the shelf, but you're still gathering dust.

I must admit that a week without social media wasn't easy. It's doable for sure. When social media is connected to your work, it's a challenge to simply turn it off. I think the main thing that I've learned via this week of being off of social media was that like most things, it's about balance. Too much phone time isn't a good thing. Too much time on Twitter may feel like it's about work, but it can also be a giant rabbit hole where productivity disappears without a lot of reflection.

Going forward, I think I'll be much more in tune with keeping my social media engagement at more moderate levels. Work can be 24/7, but that's not always a good thing. This week has been novel due to a lack of something. That's important, I think. Writing projects and email has been a lot easier to keep up on.

I grew up without social media. When I was in college, there were still payphones in the dorms. I have a lot more practice with being disconnected from today's constant flow of digital. Perhaps that's the takeaway, disconnection leads to reflection which then allows for more meaningful moments in the digital domain.


Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.


Image Credit

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


Back to Top