Saturday, April 17, 2010

What I Learned During My Break From Social Media

If you're a regular reader of this blog then you know I took a break from writing on here and from other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter during the Lenten season from late February to early April. I haven't been that active in blogging since I returned from this break since I've been fairly busy and it's taken me a little while to get back in the blogging groove.

There are a number of topics that I'd like to write about that I'll hopefully be working on in the coming weeks but for now I'd like to share a few things I learned during my break from some of my regular online activity. Here goes...

1. My mind was less cluttered with less time spent online. There is so much activity that is readily available to us due to the Internet that our minds are nearly always in overactive mode and we rarely get a time to mentally rest. I found that when I was not trying to track with everything that all my friends were doing online, my mind wasn't nearly as busy and active. I discovered I had more time for reflection and was even intentionally leaving the television off and not listening to the radio in the car as much since I had a greater appreciation for quiet. And as a father of four young children, quietness is a precious commodity in my eyes.

2. I became more focused on what I needed to learn and less on what I think others needed to learn. As a regular blogger that seeks to primarily write about things that are important and significant, I'm often thinking about the things that I think others need to hear when it comes to issues pertaining to God or race or religion or culture. I, unfortunately, can miss out on what it is that I need to learn because I'm so busy formulating thoughts for the consumption of others. Sharing information with others is fine, but I need to not miss the lessons that I need to learn as well.

3. There can be a real tendency towards negativity and meanness on the web. By removing myself from online dialogue for a season, I was able to recognize how quickly virtual conversations can turn into mean-spirited lectures and not necessarily genuine, respectful conversations. With the anonymity that our online personas afford us, we are quick to offer judgmental, sarcastic or just flat-out mean commentary in ways that we never would in face-to-face interactions. This has caused me to take pause and think twice about what I post online.

4. Although Blogger, Facebook and Twitter can be useful, I don't "need" any of these things. Online social networking has online been part of my life for the past handful of years and I did okay before I had any of those things. Since I have spent time each day for years utilizing these tools, I did wonder if there was some sort of an addiction that had consumed me without me realizing it. Within a couple days of going cold turkey on social media, I was confident this was not the case. I really didn't miss it and my life was fine without it.

To be fair, though, I did miss learning about some of the important updates in friends lives (like engagements, birth of babies, job changes, etc.) but my wife, Lori, filled me in on those things if I hadn't spoken with friends personally. I feel more confident that while online social networking can be useful in my life, it is not a necessity.

In closing, I'm glad I took the break that I did. I view my time online differently and have a different perspective on the things that I'm going to choose to write about. I have also been encouraged by a number of friends that told me that they missed reading my blog or seeing my status updates. In some cases, I didn't realize that these individuals were regular readers. It has been a good reminder that our time on online has the power to influence people and it's up to us whether we want that influence to affect people in a positive or negative way. I hope that my writing reaches people in a positive manner.

1 comment:

Kaye said...

Scott, count me on the list of people who missed hearing from you because I respect your perspective and often learn things from you.

But you can also count me as one who agrees with your concern about the meanness that is so prevalent online. I also have been rethinking my own online presence and the amount of time I spend there.

Thanks again & welcome back.