I started to write a post about my wonderful winter break and how restorative it was for me. How nice. Then I realized what’s really on my mind is this: While I was away having my break of breaks from work, from compulsive expository writing, from shallow reading trying to pass as close reading, from competitive scrolling, from toggling between e-mail and twitter notifications to see which one is most up-to-date, I reached this searing conclusion: Twitter does not care if I contribute or lurk, go AWOL or stay glued to my screen. Twitter did not miss me while I was away. And to my great surprise, I didn’t miss Twitter so much, either.
Let me be clear, I am not talking about a digital detox or full scale time out. I had internet access most of the time. However, being away from home and from my laptop and my typical online habits, I regained a distance to my work and my sense of self-importance. Because, let’s be honest, social media can be an amazing tool to help you inflate your sense of self-importance to improbable magnitudes. Not just your followers, but their followers and their followers’ followers – all have the potential to be touched by that clever witticism you tweeted that got retweeted 3 or even 5 times – now that’s reach! My point here is that being away from the steady shower of critical thinkpieces, longreads, pithy commentary and swift actionable tips helped me appreciate that the parts of social media that I value can be enjoyed in smaller, more targeted doses.
I can also see that life’s other occupations: making good on my speedskating intentions, playing card and board games with friends and family, crocheting until the cows come home (looking for a new scarf), solving puzzles, staring out the window, taking pictures of fog – these are precisely the luxuries that social media cannot provide. They are the tangibles which in my case yielded significant intangibles: rest, recuperation, relaxation, renewal.
Social media has plenty to offer me and others. And this organic time-out helped me put things back into perspective. I have some thoughts to share. I look forward to continuing and expanding my learning with and from so many others. But I think I’ll be happier in the process if I leave behind the need to create and be a brand. I am not a commodity. My voice is not here to sell or be sold. How much I share, in which intensity and tone, will vary. I don’t know exactly who my audience is or will be and that’s okay. I know what I want to write about, what I need and want to say and if that resonates with one or two or fifty folks, then great.
Being away from the keyboard gave me pause, both literal and figurative. And in that time I certainly did a more thorough appraisal of possible exit strategies than ever. Deciding to be here (or not be here) is always a choice.
Photo: Spelic 2015