The Sound of (social media) Silence..

40 days without social media. 10 years ago it wouldn’t have even been a thing, but in 2016 it looms like a behemoth on the horizon.

As an avid instagrammer, tweeter and erstwhile facebooker, the very idea of switching them all off was something that filled me with dread.

But switch them off I did, 40 days ago. And for 3 days it was hard, the urge to check was strong, but the will was stronger – the fact I deleted the apps and changed passwords was a masterstroke!

In that time there have been (amongst others) doping scandals in tennis, political insanity in the UK and the US, and far too many terrorist atrocities. On the positive side there’s also been some great bike riding (including Richmond Park on Boris Bikes), some delicious dinners, and 3 incredibly positive parents evenings at school.

The dearth of social media has seen me seek out news and opinion from websites instead of simply listening to the echo chamber of The Feed (no trips to the Daily Mail though), in an effort to broaden horizons, and to some extent visit sources I wouldn’t normally go to in the sake of balance.

Time has been lengthened, with the day gaining an extra couple of hours, and the phone developing a battery that last for 48, instead of just 6 hours!

In the previous 40 days I’ve taken 27 photos, and that includes a cycling trade-show, a family visit to a theme park, and 2 trips to london. Compared to an average of 2 instagram posts per day thats a sizeable decrease. Have the days been any less photogenic? Not in the slightest, but the need for social validation has certainly been lessened, and with it the desire to broadcast everything (although, admittedly I’ve featured in a few photographs courtesy of my wife’s instagram feed)

I’ve read 4 books in that time, 13 academic papers, and created enough powerpoint slides for over 30 hours of lectures and presentations.

Have I missed seeing my friends feeds, seeing what japes they have been getting up to? Of course, but to compensate I’ve also spent more time on the phone with them, and more time actually talking face to face (Communications 1.0) with my wife. I’ve had for more interaction with my kids; not once have they found me ‘too busy’ to talk or to play with them as my finger furiously scrolls down The Feed.

As a blogger my social currency, and worth to the companies I work with, is my ‘following’ and the level of interaction I have online. This has almost certainly suffered. There are many tools out there that monitor inactivity, with 30 days being the first alarm bell for follower ‘culling’, and with that in mind I’m excited to see how my graphs will have changed on Twitter especially. Is that important for me? 40 days ago I would have emphatically said yes, but today it doesn’t feel so vital. I’ve just checked and my Klout score has plummeted by 15% in 40 days!

I’d like to develop a closer, more ‘honest’ online presence. Less filters, and less post-production. Instead striving to be more authentic, warts and all, and not glossing over the effort that things take (killing the pretension so evident online), if I lose 5,000 followers in the process then no matter.

What else? I’ve started a new business with 2 fantastic partners, and I find myself buried deep in honing a marketing strategy and  fine-tuning digital development – without the distraction of missing out on The Feed. I’m also much closer to starting a Doctoral program with the aim of going a DBA in the next 4 years.

By the time you read this I’ll have reloaded the apps, reset the passwords and relaunched myself into the digital abyss that is Social Media.

I’m hoping the lessons learnt in the past 40 days will stick, social is fun, but has so much potential to suck time and drain authenticity.

Social media brings us closer to strangers, but does it take us away from those closest to us?

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