I am not a smoker and I rarely drink. I don’t do drugs and I once gave up meat for seven years, ‘just because’. What I’m trying to say is that I do not have an addictive personality. I can take things or leave them.
So this is my big experiment. Can I give up social media, remain happy and continue to do my job without missing it, even slightly, for 24 hours? I’m hoping I can, surely it can’t be that hard?
Of course I am writing this before embarking on my great experiment. What you read below are copies of the notes I take during this short period in my life. Here we go:
Waking up I have two thoughts. One, I need to pee. Two, ooh, I wonder what’s happening on Twitter? Oh wait I can’t check, damn.
And once I know I can’t check it is hard to let go of the urge. I begin to ready myself for the day with thoughts such as ‘can’t I just do this challenge tomorrow?’ and ‘maybe if I cheat nobody will know’ running through my head. I am proud though when I lean over to my tablet, notice that there is a notification for a Facebook message and then swiftly flick the notification button off. Temptation gone.
Into the office early as usual (smug grin). Being early usually has the advantage of allowing me five minutes to catch up on any social media happenings between the time I left the house (7.20) and now. Today I can’t so I am instead forced into conversing with my workmate David. It’s not as bad as I thought – but please don’t tell him that.
Then disaster nearly strikes, I turn my desktop on and automatically type Facebook into the address bar. It pops up, I screech when I realise my error. Noticing that I already have new notifications (on top of the message from this morning) I rapidly close down the screen. But the worst is not yet over. Up pops my RSS feed to tell me once again that I have Facebook notifications. I ignore them but sheesh! My computer is a ticking social media bomb!
Wow, you can’t even check your email without being confronted with social media alerts. Note to self – once this is over I must turn notifications off. They are clogging up my inbox.
I am definitely beginning to realise how much I use social media for work. Today I can’t use my Tweetdeck to see if someone if mentioning my client or one of its competitors, and I can’t see if a relevant #journorequest pings up. I’m not neglecting tasks though, never fear! I’m just using more traditional routes like magazine and Google searches, and focussing on tasks which don’t require social interactions.
Ah lunch time. Normal routine? Stuff salad down face, check Facebook for anything new and interesting since the morning, catch up with the world through Twitter and follow any number of tweeted links, some relevant to work, others just interesting. Routine today? Eat, surf BBC news, then the MailOnline, then the BBC again, then the MailOnline…you get the idea.
My colleague Jim asks me if I saw ‘that thing’ on Facebook. I say no. Right answer, he responds. Now the entire office is telling me that they are tweeting me secrets and one day offers. You have to love your colleagues don’t you… don’t you?!
This is turning out to be an interesting experiment, as much for gaining a perspective on myself as it is for the purpose of drafting a damn good blog. In the course of not checking Facebook, Twitter, Tweetdeck, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google + or a single online forum, I am becoming aware of how often I usually glance at these during the working day. True, each time I normally do it the visit lasts, what, five seconds? So it’s hardly eating into my client time, but the routine of checking has never seemed compulsive before. Now every time I have a down moment or my mind wanders, every time I just need a second to rest my brain after bashing out a release or pitching a byline my hand and mouse automatically move towards the new browser tab. Am I like this on a normal day I wonder? I must be, but in stopping myself I am becoming hyper-aware of the fact. It’s a bit disturbing.
Well that’s a shocker. Not being able to use Facebook I have just gone to send a cheeky text (shh don’t tell the boss) and found that I don’t have my friend Hattie’s mobile number. What! I have known this girl for ten months and see her on a regular basis. How do I not know how to contact her other than through Facebook??!
Ah crap! I have used social media today without even realising it – the only relief being that it was for work – I have pressed a social sharing button on a blog (should I be allowed to read that anyway? I’m going to call that a grey area). It seems I have been able to give up social media on a personal level but it’s been so deeply ingrained into my working life that I didn’t realise I had broken my fast until minutes after it happened.
I suppose technically the challenge is over and I have failed. The question is, do I continue with what is essentially now a charade? I think the answer is yes, I’m a trooper and a stubborn one at that, and I shall continue on, wounded, until I stumble over the finishing line. A stinking pile of fraud.
Do I go home, watch Eastenders and keep my fingers off the social button, brooding like an addict with severe withdrawal, or do I attempt to distance myself from the situation? Like any good recovering addict I know the answer has to be the latter, so off to the cinema I shall go.
I won’t bore you with a film review (Hangover III – it was OK) but I will say that by the time I emerged, returned home and got into my jimjams it was nearly midnight – nearly time for the axe to fall on my day of fasting.
And here’s the surprising thing. I could have sat around until midnight, waiting for the chance to check my Facebook inbox, but I didn’t. Instead I am proud to say that the idea barely crossed my mind. Instead I was quite happy to crawl into bed and sleep. Could it be that my 24 hours of cold turkey had/would cure me of my social media addiction, fingers crossed!
Waking up I once again have two thoughts. One, I need to pee. Two, great I can take my tablet into the bathroom and check my Twitter while I get ready for work. I am deliriously happy and so have apparently cured myself of nothing. But who the heck cares? I have one Facebook email and four other notifications – yay!
On a serious note, what has this experiment taught me? On a personal level social media is all about procrastination. Whenever I have a moment of boredom, or want to relax my brain, I automatically move towards Facebook. And professionally, social media is now entrenched in my working day, after all I do work for a specialist integrated B2B social media agency. Whether I realise it or not, searching for client mentions, reading and sharing blogs of interest and using Tweetdeck to judge client sentiment are all a large – and useful – aspect of my job. That’s not going to change.
But yes, I think I probably should begin cutting down on my personal Facebook time…and I’m not sure if taking my tablet to the loo with me is normal behaviour. What do you think?