A few weeks back I decided to take a little social media holiday. There were plenty of reasons for it. Those reasons included the tremendous amount of time I found myself spending on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, much of which, I concluded after some introspection, was a complete waste of time. Another good reason is the negativity that all that social media contains. Because a good part of my reliance on social media was for news, I got a lot of negative information on the political situation, environment, world threats, criminal behavior of people toward pets and children – and more.
On top of it, I was posting way too much information about myself, my kids, and my stuff – much of which “the public” just doesn’t need to know. My attention span was becoming ridiculously short. I wouldn’t even pick up a magazine or much less a book. I also found myself beginning to believe electronic relationships were more real than the ones in front of me – the live ones. It was clearly time for a break! So I simply turned off FB, Instagram, and Twitter. And here’s what’s happened:
- Suddenly, I had all this time. Sure, I am still a super-busy guy with multiple businesses and a post as a college professor. And yes, it was hard to get away from my tremendous addiction of checking my phone every 15 seconds. But once I did I was rewarded with time. Time to interact with real people. Time to listen. Time to read. Time to think.
- My mental outlook immediately improved. Less negative. More positive. I was less depressed – and pretty quickly. Social media facilitates knowing too much about everyone. And that gives you a reason not to like them. And a lot of what isn’t negative on social media is often sarcastic. That sarcasm becomes tiresome – especially if it starts to creep into everything you do.
- I could think about my businesses. I came up with several new ideas that I think will be helpful. I called some people I hadn’t spoken with for too long. I talked to some others that I should have been talking to more. I think a lot of good will come from freeing my time and mental energy.
- I became a better listener. Instead of halfway listening to other people, I could all the way listen. And I could give them my full attention. Not my usual partial attention. The benefit of that is people like you more. You seem like you care. And it’s because you actually do care because you are more tuned in and more empathetic.
- I became painfully aware of how social media has been a platform for me to glorify my ego. All the posts showing my stuff and my kids and my accomplishments – way too much. Showing off becomes addictive. And it paints an unrealistic portrait of me and my real life – and for a lot of people I don’t really know. Not good. The “social media holiday” is going to make me less egocentric and more humble. And people will know less about me – and that’s OK.
With all of these benefits that I have gotten from my social media holiday, I’m thinking of extending it. Going to make it a longer term deal. And while, yes, I will need to seek out new sources of information to stay informed, and new ways to market our businesses and myself, I think the end result will be more innovation, less conformity, and more authentic uniqueness. Time will tell if I’m right.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.