As mentioned in my "I'm not doing NaNoWriMo" post in November I decided to try a one-week hiatus from social media and parts of the web. This meant NO (absolutely none) Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google +, YouTube, or Goodreads and any other social media I may have inadvertently downloaded on my iPod or use as a time-wasting source. This is what happens when you get off social media and things start getting real...
Day 1 (Sunday): Did freelance work for the majority of the day and drafted a new YA novel idea. During blank moments the urge to check Facebook/Twitter was immediate, but held out. Checked email periodically to see updates on dinner with friends that evening, visited the MTA Weekender (a necessary resource in NYC now), posted edited files to project manager on shared server, and checked restaurant webpage for a sudden change in dinner plans.
Day 2 (Monday): First day at work during the hiatus, a place where I cannot turn off the wifi. Cheated for one second by checking Milk Truck's status on Twitter to see if they were in my neighborhood. Alas, their truck was in the shop. Checked email and got a good amount of work done for a short work week. Composed many tweets in my head. Saw pumpkin choco chip cookies I offered to donate for Pinay in Texas's online bake sale auction got sold for $30!
At a reading my friend Erin participated in that evening took pictures and wanted to share/post them, but could not. Also wanted to note quotes of passages at reading and tag the mini Ragdale reunion we had in NYC. Two friends have asked "How are you doing?" (in terms of my abstaining from social media) as though I had the look of someone going through withdrawal.
Erin kept saying, "She has 20,000 tweets!" at an after party for the reading and I kept rebutting "It's only 18,000."
Day 3 (Tuesday): Watched CBS This Morning and saw a story about a company using Beastie Boys songs without permission and then suing the Beastie Boys for misogynistic lyrics which had NOTHING to do with anything! (Note this has since been resolved.) Had all these thoughts about copyright infringement that I'd like to tweet about and post in support of artists who've had a lot of stuff jacked from them over the years. Laughed at my own tweets to myself.
While sorting through edits in a manuscript at work thought of more barbs about the frustration I had with an author who plucked images from the web and inserted them into her manuscript without noting permission. Hashtag #workwoes kept popping into my head.
Checked personal email a bit more than usual out of habit of checking something. BUT, maintained momentum with work and did not check Instagram, Goodreads, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, or Twitter (despite an email that noted a new follower). Wondered how many Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog links I was missing that friends may be posting.
In Ned Stark voice "Winter (storm) is coming..."
Day 4 (Wednesday): Last day at work for the week. Got more work done but was itching a lot to quickly check Twitter or FB even with a tight deadline looming for early December. What were people doing for Thanksgiving prep?! I had to know. Instead, I had ramen and scrolled through NY Times frontpage online.
Did Thanksgiving prep and, again, wanted to post the recipes I was making but did not. Cleaned apartment and started food items for guests on Thanksgiving.
Day 5 (Thursday): Thanksgiving. Spent three hours combing through Door Buster sales and ended up buying a new laptop. This is what happens when I do not go on social media. I purchase things. Things I need but still... Jotted some ideas down for the new YA novel idea. Still itched to update the new book I'm reading on Goodreads. And it seems every site I went to for shopping (Sony, Samsung, Dell, Microsoft) asked me to visit their Facebook page for more details. Bastards.
Made kick ass Thanksgiving meal and the best chicken I will ever make in my life thanks to recipes from Fine Cooking magazine and could not post them! You know what they say. If there are no pictures/tweets it didn't happen. But trust me it did!
Watched more episodes of Orange is the New Black once guests left.
Day 6 (Friday): Sugar overload. I have a cake and a pie so come over if you would like any please!
Anywho, wrote for several hours in the morning until afternoon. Really did want to check FB and Twitter to see what people were doing the day after Thanksgiving but abstained, of course. Kept clicking back on Google Chrome and staring at the screen not knowing what to do besides check email, even though no one is sending emails!, and then would log off again to go back to writing. Made cookie dough for Cookie Takedown, couldn't tweet about it. Wrote some more. Did freelance work. Watched more Orange is the New Black.
Day 7 (Saturday): Exercised, went shopping for more cookie supplies for online bake sale and Cookie Takedown. Made shrimp fried rice. Ate more pie (seriously people I have lots & cake so come over). Updated my blog post. Wrote for a few hours. And did more freelance work.
And, yes, the urge was still strong to check Facebook and Twitter. Even got an alert from Twitter that Kelly Lynch (the Kelly Lynch from L Word and Curly Sue!) favorited a tweet of mine that she was mentioned in saying she's hot! Good God what is going ON on the internet right now?!?
Misses: I wonder if I really did miss social media or if I just instinctively go to it when I want a break, or an excuse for a break. As in, I can no longer hold my attention on certain tasks for long periods of time and thus search for a reason to divert my attention. It's an interesting thing to consider.
I did miss hearing about my friends lives though. Admittedly, I have become reliant on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads to update me on my friends' lives/interests/birthdays. And I do love the Twitter community I have connected with over the past few years. Whether it be work irritations, family obligations, new events like babies and weddings, or just a link that we can relate to or media news I did miss interacting people about funny comments or shared concerns. So yeah, I missed y'alls. :-)
Realizations: I realized I advertise a lot of my thoughts and my day online. I mean, a crap load. I didn't think 18,000 tweets was a lot until I thought about it after Erin said it. I mean DAMN that's a lot of tweets for 3 years. It's not Maureen Johnson high but still.
I post a lot of pictures of food I make and whenever I have, what I think, is a witty thing to say I quickly sum it up and post before it leaves my head. But now I had to let that thought fade from my mind or perhaps use it in my writing in another capacity.
Being offline forced me to get stuff done with none of my regular distractions and I was interested to see I didn't go to other sites like NY Times or BBC News and read voraciously to spend time but just kept checking email and then went back to work or watched TV or read one of my magazines. It seemed I was searching for quickie ways to distract me and things that weren't too "heavy."
Benefits: I got stuff done. I forced myself to focus more without the rest of these social media aspects as a deterrent. It was like it was 2003 again and I didn't have a lot to take me away from projects outside of human interaction (phone calls, talking to co-workers). I was forced to be productive again and with the holiday it was helpful as I had a couple extra days off to cook, bake, write, and do freelance so I didn't feel like my time was so sparse. I got writing tasks done that I may not have completed had I been on Facebook detailing my steps for making Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday or if I had discussed the sugar coma I was in and shows I was watching on Friday. Nope, I worked and did stuff around the apartment and got to bed at a reasonable hour to get up and do it again.
Overall Thoughts: Would I make this a regular thing? Yes. Because I was productive. Because it forced me to focus. Because not being on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, Google +, etc. was not the end of the world. It did keep me from knowing more about what people are up to or more about events or deadlines and such but those are things you can catch up on, especially if you subscribe to digests and other webpages and simply call/email/write people. Would I completely remove myself from all social media? No. It is useful in various ways especially for me as a writer and food blogger. To extricate myself from social media would not be helpful to me building a community and audience for my interests in writing and food blogging.
However, I would, and hope to, regularly take breaks from social media. Perhaps one week every month to get the full sense of being productive. It may wean me away from social media slowly or teach me to prioritize better. Realistically, you can find any distractions be it on the internet or in life. You can clean every nook and cranny in your house rather than writing that tense scene in your book. You can go out with friends instead of doing freelance work. You can binge on TV. You can shop on ebay and Amazon.com or other sites (like Powells.com or Bookish.com) or read news sites and food blogs for hours on end. But for me I realized that I continuously was on Facebook and Twitter when stuff needed to get done and it seemed a problem. Not a horrible problem but still something I needed to be in more control of. So was it hard? Yes. Habits die hard. Was it worth it? Yes, as any experiment will help you learn more about yourself.