This summer I took a deliberate online hiatus from social media. This was facilitated by some key events.
- I wondered if I could.
- Our cabin in the Sierra Nevadas does not have internet access.
- I didn’t want to get sand in my iPad or computer.
Engaging with social media is a habit. Like Pavlov’s dog, the ping or even a lapse of time, brings the strong impulse “to check”. In many instances, it evokes a smile with a quick update or joke or pic from a friend or relative. It may bring reassurance that the kids are okay. It may allow for the impromptu bike ride, golf game, or tea time. It brings a connection with people connected with common interests and reminders of that upcoming dentist’s appointment.
By all accounts, a break from social media is viewed to be a very positive thing. The downside of “the ping” is when it signals that you are still at work with things to tend to. It is easy to fall into the trap of, “Better to do it now, rather than adding it to the never ending things to do list”. I’ve looked at many emails and texts that come with an expectation of immediate response, even very late at night and very early in the morning. The NOT working 24/7 is the quest implicit in the technology break.
I LOVE Twitter as a tool for professional development. Disengaging from posting and responding to other posts brings a disconnection with “friends” or “followers”. If the numbers game is an important goal, then the break is not a healthy thing. If you have cultivated connections online, then you know where to find them and how to re-engage when you’re ready. One of the best things of presenting in Boston at the International Literacy Association this summer, was connecting with some of the people I’ve connected with online. We’d look at each others nametag and react as old friends. As a tool to develop your Professional Learning Community, I think Twitter is brilliant. Although the 140 characters of text do not provide enough depth to be profound, the links to blogs and articles and other professional development stimulate the thought and connections to facilitate professional growth. I frequently use Twitter as a way to take notes and involve people inside and outside the room in thinking about the topic being discussed during professional development sessions. I did miss the conversation over the summer.
A close colleague and I frequently laugh about our treatment of books. We are both prolific readers. She sits in one place, does not bend the pages and places them back on the shelf in order by author’s last name. I take a collection of books with me everywhere I go. They show evidence of the beach, the bathtub, red wine, coffee and many bends in the corners. This is probably why e-readers have never worked for me. Professional books are marked with highlighters, stickee tabs and underlining. They go back on a shelf if I get them back from whoever last borrowed it. That did not change this summer but the blogging piece did change how I interacted with the books. Blogging pushes the reflection of text to a deeper level. When ideas are being expressed to an audience, it is necessary to refine your thinking and fine tune how your ideas are expressed. I think I read more this summer without blogging but I thought about what I had read less. Blogging facilitates the reflection which makes the reading more personally meaningful. I continued to register a plethora of questions to ask and ideas to blog about LATER.
After the initial break from technology, it became easier and easier not to reach for my phone or get up early in the am to blog. I didn’t realize was how hard it would be to get back into the habit of engaging in social media. As with anything, engaging with technology isn’t something that some people are predisposed to do. It is a clear choice that it is important and therefore the time and energy must be carved out to engage in it. So now I am forced with the challenge of getting back to the gym AND getting back to engaging with technology. Fortunately I can read my phone on the stationary bike 🙂