What I learned about social media by not using it for a week

Last Friday I decided I needed a break from social media. I felt as if I needed to limit the amount of information going into my brain. (I wrote about it here.)

So what happened when I stopped accessing Twitter and Facebook? What did I learn? Did it have an impact on my productivity? Here are some of my observations.

The good things about social media

1. It has become a common way of communicating with people

Twitter is a great way of finding and communicating with new people who share common interests. People you want to learn from, or work with, or socialise with. And Facebook is a useful platform for groups with a particular focus, as well as being a place to catch up with friends.

I now use Twitter and Facebook to communicate far more than I use e-mail. I’m more likely to write a quick tweet to someone or send a short note on Facebook than I am to sit down and write a long e-mail. This week I have communicated with some of the people I chat to on social media, but via e-mail, and not as often.

2. It is the way we share photos with each other

I was at an event last Saturday wearing a giant dragon costume. (Yes, you read that correctly!) But I haven’t been able to see the photos of the event, or read what my friends and acquaintances think about that, as all the photos were shared on social media.

3. It provides a platform for online communities

I am a member of a few Facebook groups where I chat to like-minded people who have their own businesses. Facebook is a brilliant platform for this, as it allows people to discuss their challenges or ask for information. I’ve missed having that support and community this week.

4. It is an instant source of news and information

I realised how often I hear about international, national and local news via Twitter now, rather than from other places. I had to make the effort to visit news websites or switch on a TV news channel if I wanted to see what was going on in the world.

The not so good things about social media

1. There is a constant stream of information

I love reading different blog posts and saving interesting articles to go back to later. But with the constant supply of information on Twitter and on Facebook, it can get a bit much to keep up with. That’s one of the reasons I took a social media holiday this week, to clear my brain of other people’s information and opinions.

2. It’s a time filler and a distraction

If I’m feeling uninspired or bored, often I just instinctively go to social media. By taking that away from myself this week, I’ve been forced to look at this habit, and see if I can think of ways to manage it.

However, I have also realised that there are plenty of other internet distractions out there – lots of news websites, blog posts, and of course Google. I’d like to say I had a brilliantly productive week, but it was probably only a bit more productive than normal – because I just found other online things to fill the gap!

3. It only shows people’s “highlights reels”

When you’re feeling a bit down about any aspect of your life, there’s nothing worse than logging onto Facebook and being confronted with everyone else’s happy news, successes, fabulous holidays and flourishing businesses. I know of people going through a tough time with something who’ve stopped using Facebook for this reason.

4. It mixes business and pleasure if you’re using it for both

Sometimes all I want is to log onto Facebook and reminisce about an event or look at pictures of my friends’ cats. But these days that’s not so easy for me to do. Now that I have lots of Facebook friends who are also business owners or setting up a business, I also see lots of links in my news feed about business-related topics, and links from friends’ blogs and newsletters.

So how am I going to adapt what I do in future?

1. Come up with a way to limit my time on my Facebook and Twitter each day.

2. Regularly have a ‘no social media’ day. Maybe extend this to a ‘no internet’ day as well.

3. Follow my rule ‘create and action before you consume and learn’ (adapted from Marie Forleo’s video – see here for more information).

So what do you think?

Do any of my observations on social media use resonate with you?

Do you have any tips for getting into good social media and internet habits?

Please comment below and let me know!

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