Back in May I decided to take month off of Twitter. I’ve written before about taking a digitical sabbath, so I thought I would take my own advice and leave Twitter behind for thirty days. So I logged out of Twitter, deleted my personal account from my phone (I kept my church’s acount on the phone considering it was part of my job) and began my sabbath.
At first it was little awkward. The silence, the wondering if I was missing out on a breaking story or an amazing video featuring cats hanging from ceiling fans. After a while though, the axiety subsided and I began to relax. Before I knew it, the month was over and I survived. Here’s what I learned along the way:
I Missed the Information Overload
There is something about having a screen lit up with so much information that you don’t know where to click. It’s almost like this false sense that you are a well informed individual because you read that tweet from Buzzfeed about Iraq. It’s easy in a hallway conversation’s to act like I knew what was going on, because chances are it probably came across my twitter feed. Once I left Twitter, I suddenly felt like I was cut off from a key source of information.
Twitter Can’t Be Done on Autopilot
While I was gone from Twitter, I began to ask myself, “Will anyone know I left?” (and yes I realize that’s a really egocentric question). The truth is most people didn’t know I was a gone. Why? Well, I wasn’t actively engaging people on Twitter. I had set everything on autopilot. I planned out my tweets two weeks in advance and loaded them into Buffer and then never thought about it until I got a notice that all my tweets had been posted. Sure, I got some retweets and favorites, but I had taken the “social” out of social media.
It’s Hard to Avoid Twitter During Real Time Events
I love the NBA and I love the NBA Finals even more. Despite the fact that my beloved Chicago Bulls didn’t make it, I still had a keen interest in watching the Heat lose to the Spurs. However, what make these Finals interesting was trying to watch it without looking at Twitter. Lebron getting cramps? Spurs shooting the lights out in Game 3? All of these real time events begged for commentary and snark that only could be provided by Twitter. You see, Twitter is very good at real time events. It’s designed to be an in the moment tool. Watching a live event with Twitter can actually enhance the event itself. I didn’t realize how much I would miss that.
I Had to Learn New Ways to Share
One use for Twitter is that I share any resources or links that I think people might like. So when I was off of Twitter I didn’t know how to share my internet finds. Do I email people? Do I hit them up on Google chat? How do I get them to look at the important video of a cat spinning around on a ceiling fan? These questions, led to me to rethink what I should share online. Am I being conscious enough with what I share? Am I really adding value to the conversation or am I just adding to the noise?
I Still Hate Notifications
I hate notifications. When I’m in a conversation or deep in thought, the last thing I want is that ding sound from my phone. Yes, I know I can turn off the notifications, but if I do that how when I know when someone is retweeting me on Twitter (yes, another egocentric question)? When I deleted my Twitter account from my phone, I felt an initial sense of relief and panic at the same time. However, once day three had passed I got used to the lack of notifications and began to appreciate the silence for what it was.
A Challenge for You
Think about your favorite social media tool and how much time you spend on it. Now ask yourself, what would happened if you stepped away? Does that scare you? If so, you might need to take a digital sabbath.