(Another) 30 days of no social media (Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram)

This was first published in Romanian in Revista Cariere, here.

I remember the first time I came in Bucharest (in 2004) and I was riding the subway. You could hear many conversations and people were interacting with each other. Back then you didn’t have smartphones or unlimited internet on your phone, or any of the current popular social media. Actually, there was no phone signal at the subway. People were talking to each other, they were reading a book or newspapers available for free back then at the subway. Today, if you’re riding the subway, the first sock is the silence. Most of the commuters enter, sit and get off the subway with their eyes set on their mobile phone, making a gesture every other second: that scroll-down with their thumb. I don’t believe that we should go back in an era when the current technology didn’t exist. Technology brought us closer to knowledge and we can communicate with other people from all over the world. But, while we glorify the importance of these tools, we forget to talk with the person next to us.

Last year, in June, I had my first 30 days of no social media experiment. Just to understand my argument, let me tell you what I do. First, I’m an assistant professor and my concentration needs to be directed towards developing lectures & seminar, and on the research topics that in the end become presentations and scientific articles in the topic of financial analysis & strategy. Second, I’m a productivity consultant writing articles and organizing trainings for boosting productivity.

After a spring with alot of online interaction and posts on social media, I was behind my self imposed book schedule. So, these need made me do this experiment. I finished writing my book on the 30 days of no social media, a book that I also published last autumn — “12 ingredients for productivity. Better results and more free time” — currently in Romanian. English version coming soon.)

In January, I decided to start again this new experiment, this time without a clear goal in mind. A desire for relaxation and focusing on planing the year ahead was a sort of goal for the basis of the experiment.

I don’t want to convince you to do the same. Always, I emphasize that you shouldn’t focus on recipes, by doing things in a certain way. You should instead focus on finding the right “ingredients”. So, maybe this all disconnecting idea as an “ingredient” could be useful, but you should adapt it to your own type of work & personality.

In this way, you will benefit on custom changes and not of something that you just copy in a need to reach to similar results, but after that coming back to your old habits. Imagine that you are watching a broadcast with a Chef that tells you about a new type of recipe. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t. Maybe you get an idea.

So, what have I learnt after (another) 30 days of no social media:

  • the first thing that you notice is the abundance of information stream, images and links that want your attention (especially Facebook). Finding focus is a challenge, but when you have also alternatives like social media, the mission is sometimes impossible. We are so accustomed with this “normal” that we forget the alternative. If you are the type of person that can focus at the maximum level while switching tabs, I congratulate you. Probably you discovered something that I don’t know, I you can stop reading, right…now, be switching to the other tabs. But, if you want a little bit of quite space for yourself, I invite you to read further.
  • Another thing that I learnt was that during this period I was more aware of the time I spent on social media and part of the “normal” behavior (“Like”, “Share” ) became quite comic. We want to be more connected with each other and we are proud of the number of friends and messages, but how many times the direct connection (even by phone) generated the friendship? If you get a “Like”, it’s not the same as a conversation with a friend. You should check “The Circle”, a great movie with Tom Hanks about the possible future of social media. Or maybe episode 1 in season 3 of the series “Black Mirror”.
  • During this period I’ve uninstalled my email app from the phone. Nothing bad happen, actually the time checking email on my laptop was far more productive. When you have access to apps anywhere and anytime, anywhere becomes “not in suitable places” and anytime “not when you should” (e.g. when you are texting and you are at a beer with friends). Using phones when friends meet became so normal, that if you are without a phone in your hands, and you try to talk with them, you are the weird one…the unsocial one.
  • I’m convinced that there were many interesting posts on the social media platforms during this time, but I don’t feel I’ve lost anything. But, I’ve won a lot of focus on the things that really matter.
  • After this experiment, I’ve decided to be disconnected 6 days out of 7, leaving Friday for posting articles and checking the platforms. So, my next experiment is the No Social Media 6/7 experiment.

I don’t think that the ones that speaks louder is the ones being heard. I think that the ones that bring useful things to the reader are the ones being heard.

What are you ideas on connecting and disconnecting? How do you integrate technology in your life? What solutions do you have to bring balance in your life? Have you tried similar experiments?

Please share me your thoughts. Why? Because we learn from each others, and your experiment could be the basics of change for someone else. Please share your comments below or at contact@costinciora.com

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