Wednesday, April 22, 2009


so for the past few weeks, i slipped slowly into an experiment of sorts. i went on a social media blackout.

this is something many of us will oft claim and consider, and perhaps for my reasons below, or while on holiday to a faraway, strange place (but ultimately never commit to thanks to the growing # of internet cafes).

sitting in the local airport on a sunday, staring at my phone, i decided to simply stop. engaging or paying attention, whether it be via my own updating, or reading anyone else's thoughts anymore (Levar Burton and MC Hammer alike). with little exception, (some official "WIR" administrative stuff) i even let my Facebook consumption drop to practically nill. and to little/no surprise, i quit writing/reading my blogs (sorry Google Reader). casual email and IM stuck around, because, well, i've been on those since i was 13.

did it it help that i spent a week for work in my recently-departed hometown? or that i decided to view EVERY episode of the Wire (which is another post completely)? or that an out-of-town friend came for a NY visit? perhaps. but such things have hardly stopped me in the past.

did the world fall apart while was gone? no.

was i any less in the know? maybe (my mom DID get an iPhone).

did any of it matter? not really.

so then why did i do it? as social a person as i can be, it just became too much. when i first started using Facebook years ago, there were relatively small communities, where i could converse, share, and comment in a deferring, delayed manner with a handful of people that i cared about. but before long, more people i knew joined, added me, and it quickly became a broadcast medium for all.

my habits quickly shifted away from Facebook to that of Twitter (though thru linking the two i allowed the prior to see what i was doing on the latter), and i found a small crowd of mine that had migrated over, and the informative, entertaining, but oft-indirect conversations continued. i was soon also following the tweets of the Onion, the New York Times, Darth Vader, God, Mashable, MC Hammer, and yes, Levar Burton (Geordi!). and then everyone ELSE joined. and everyone was broadcasting again, rather than talking to eachother.

i guess i just got tired of the inconsequence of it all. so i stopped.

so during the "blackout," did i read more? write more? draw more? work more? no to all of the above. i just carried on with my life as i had once done before. i still talked to friends. shared things. made plans. i cooked dinner and did the laundry. i even started riding my bike around again.

i'm sure i'll inevitably jump back into the bandwagon of the next big thing in the "social media" some extent, it's part of my world (professionally), but even THAT has me begging the question of if i even belong there.

so what's the lesson learned here? none of this social media stuff really matters. the social stuff, sure. people matter. but when the media/medium/technology goes too far (it does have it's place...i feel that it's simply overstepped it's bounds), it becomes a crutch, for something that was already meaningful enough.

we'll see what happens from here.


  1. MeganB4:33 PM

    One of the reasons I took up knitting is because I don't have to sit in front of a screen--whether it be a TV or a computer or a handheld device--to enjoy it. With that being said, I am a member of an online knitting community (Ravelry), where I get free patterns. AND I actually learned to knit from YouTube. There's something weird about that. If nothing else, taking a break from social online media is good for my wittle eyeballs.

  2. you never knitted (knit? knot? wtf is the past tense of this word) me anything!

  3. I tried to have a blackout after getting the suggestion from the "4-hr Work Week" book. You still find out about all the important stuff. For example, I just learned that a former co-worker of Kat and me got busted for assisting underage drinking in a gay bar. Instead of spending 30 minutes a day to find that tidbit buried on page B2, I can just wait for someone to tell me.

  4. And we thank you. Because during that time I didn't need to ignore the dozens and dozens of weird articles you shared in greader. Of course, I stopped using all this social media for Lent and my usage has remained pretty low post-Lent. The only thing I do in greader is log in once in a while to "mark all as read" -- best feeling ever! And too many people are using Twitter for it to be fun any more.

  5. Madhulika10:34 PM

    Twitter has its use and so does facebook. My optimistic tone will tell you that i am not over them yet. And for someone whose family and friends are spread all across the world, its a great way to stay connected. With two kids and work, i wouldn't be able to stay in touch with half the people I do if it weren't for online social networks.

  6. I enjoyed reading this, mainly because YOU have truly been my welcome wagon on various social networks. First Friendster, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Google Reader and now Buzz. I agree completely with what you wrote, however it's amazing to me that life really does go on without social media. Personally, I'm torn - I love getting introduced to new music, new ideas, articles, books, restaurants through friends via social networks, but I don't really care about what ppl had for breakfast. P.S. Like MeganB, I too have refined my knitting skills via YouTube. And I think that's pretty cool.

  7. i think in the months that i've eased back into the social media waters (albeit, minimally), i've come to appreciate SOME of the benefits, but most often in the limited, more passive/restricted social media capabilities - google reader and OCCASIONAL fb usage. i don't want the massive volume of social content being pushed, i appreciate any content filters, managed by a SMALL group of WOM content.

    but despite all the increased hype of twitter - i've managed to not go back there, and have been aghast by the launch of google buzz.


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