There is a definite upside in the way social media can make us a stronger, more connected community and help build new relationships. Certainly, social media offers unparalleled marketing and communications opportunities and a new way for business to engage.
There is also a downside. Many people launch themselves into cyberspace to find it overwhelming. Social media is a time suck. It can become a kind of all-consuming black hole. If you are familiar with the uneasy feeling that there is always something urgent you have to do online, or you experience a fear of missing out when you are offline, it might be time for a digital detox.
How do you know you’re in the danger zone? Here are five ways you can tell your social media use is out of control:
1. You check your mobile phone in the bathroom;
2. You shoo away, or ignore friends, colleagues or family members while you are on your devices;
3. You break out in a sweat if you forget your phone or iPad somewhere;
4. The first thing you do in the morning is check your smart phone or laptop (see #1);
5. You impatiently grit your teeth during offline conversations until you can get back online and check your notifications.
Remote wilderness retreat - capping off my Summer Digital Detox
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then it’s time to back away from the keypad and get a little perspective.
For a month one summer, I experimented with a detox by imposing the following restraints:
1. No online activity before 8:30 am
2. Personal Facebook (and/or Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter) use restricted to 15 minutes or less at a time.
3. No checking personal social platforms until after individual work/home tasks are finished
4. No checking devices at dinnertime, while watching TV, or during one-to-one conversations
The results? I found out who that big man is who sleeps at my place-- “Hubby? Is that you?” I was able to easily complete a number of looming work related tasks and household projects. I’ve carved out time at the beginning of each day for personal mindfulness – reading, meditation, journalling – and morning tea with the big guy. I feel more focused, calmer, and less subject to random anxieties. I’ve also re-engaged with offline hobbies resulting in a big boost in both my creativity and productivity.
I capped off the daily detox experiment with a full withdrawal program spending five days in the remote wilderness completely off the grid.
How was it?
Admittedly, it was a challenge, especially as I make part of my living coaching and training other in social media use. But, the world kept spinning. In fact, it seemed a little better and brighter.