Anti-Social (Media) September
It’s Labor Day, and as I drink my coffee, I’m reflecting on life and labor. As anyone who is self-employed knows, the line between your work and your “life” is often very thin (or non-existent). Those of us with an entrepreneurial spirit are driven by passion to build something from the ground up. Along the way, we tend to meet and befriend other like-minded folks, who provide support, perspective and laughs in the face of great risk. We develop a network of like-minded friends…friends who often live nowhere near us…friends who live in other countries.
In my case, most of my friends don’t even live in the same time zone as I do. We’re all busy building our businesses, raising children, having fun with our partners, and keeping in contact with our extended families. Enter social media… a (free) way for us to all keep in touch and share the everyday “stuff” in our lives. How cool! How fun! Twitter, Facebook, Instagram! We can connect whenever we want, share research or business ideas, taunt each other with pictures of T Rex and equally ridiculous memes…endless giggles at all hours of the day and night.
Social media has been an excellent way for me to meet new people and learn about new things; yet, I see myself spending more and more time with my phone in my hand and less and less time interacting with the people right around me. If I have a spare second, I’m scrolling through Twitter. If I have an open spot in my schedule, I’m watching videos on You Tube and reading the comments section on blogs. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of this…except that it’s getting in the way of me actually producing more work that has value.
The way I figure it, I could write an eBook, or develop a Webinar, or create a workshop with this time. Or I could go for a walk, or have coffee with a friend, or read a (gasp) fiction book. Or, I could just sit, without doing anything, which is something that is vital to creating. I used to do all of those things on a much more regular basis; but, now, I find that I can’t sit for a few minutes doing nothing…it drives me crazy. So, it’s time to fix this situation (or at least attempt to…)
When I was in Atlanta for AHS13, I had long talks with several of my friends about this issue. My friend, Jamie Scott, coined the phrase “Anti-Social (media) September.” The idea terrified and intrigued me in equal parts. See, Jamie and his partner, Anastasia, are two of my closest friends. And they live in Australia. If they went dark for a month, as he was proposing, I wouldn’t get to harass him on Twitter (one of my favorite pastimes). He calmed me down by explaining that they would still be available by Skype and email. So, last night, for the first time, we had a Skype conversation. It was awesome, and we laughed about how we have talked about Skyping for two years and never done it. He drank his coffee (it was 8am on Monday his time) and I was about to go out for dinner. Hearing his Kiwi accent made my day (he’s originally from New Zealand).
So, ironically, I can see that by spending less time on social media, I might actually spend more time developing relationships with those people that I actually care about. And this is the rub for all of us who have more friends in far places than in our own neighborhood. Social media has allowed us to maintain friendships; yet, when it takes over all of our “spare” time, it gets in the way of actually living the life we set out to create.
While I know myself well enough to know that I can’t “go dark” for a month, I am making a commitment to only checking social media three times a day this month. It’s an experiment to see what else I might want to do with my time. Expect my novel to be out on October 1st.