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Surviving a week without social media

September 23, 2009

I decided before I went on my honeymoon last week—thanks to everyone who offered well wishes here and elsewhere—that I wouldn’t spend the whole time updating Twitter and checking e-mail. It was a surprisingly easy thing for me to do, but now that I’m back, I’m ready to plunge back into the social media-sphere.

Alas, Twitter has locked me out of my account. I switched my password—just to be safe—after this morning’s phishing attack, and when TweetDeck wouldn’t update my streams, what did I do? That’s right: I kept trying to log in, pushing the buttons on my keyboard harder each timethat’s how things get fixed.

Anyway, since I’m currently restricted to zero characters or less, I thought I might analyze the week that was(n’t). Because let’s face it: (1) I use social media a lot and (2) A real-life week is like an Internet year.

To be fair, I didn’t completely abstain from social media. I Tweeted a couple times about airplanes (which absolutely terrify me and cause me to curse the modern world for making their use occasionally necessary) and Lost (which validates my distaste for planes and, along with Star Trek, is why I want to find a Being John Malkovich crawl space that leads to J.J. Abrams’ head) and checked a couple Yelp reviews to find restaurants. But other than that, I was entirely removed from my beloved series of tubes.

I think the reason I found it so easy to unplug was that I wasn’t reading anything. I’m usually an avid consumer of blog posts (obviously) but I’ve just never gotten comfortable with reading posts on my phone. I need a bigger screen to fully appreciate a good post—to follow links down rabbit holes, comment on posts and tag the best of the best to Publish 2 and Delicious. Sure, I could have just Tweeted about my trip, but small talk, while important, can get to be too much pretty quickly.

I also think, however, that if I would’ve stayed out of the loop for about another week, I would’ve broken down and ended up staggering, confused, around the streets, wondering how I managed to let my online life slip away. Hyperbole aside, there is a certain level of wanting to be informed that’s perfectly acceptable and understandable. I’m a journalist—my entire profession is predicated upon the idea of sharing information (and any journalist will tell you that habit isn’t just professional).

Long story short, I think the week away gave me some much-needed downtime, but also made me realize and accept the fact that the Internet and social media are just cybernetic extensions of many of our social and mental selves (@caseorganic is a good follow for more on this) that are just here to stay—and that’s all right. My car (and—yeah, OK—airplanes) isn’t helping me burn any calories, but it sure lets me do a lot more in the course of one day. Social media isn’t making my real-life social interaction skills any better, but it is helping me to connect with people who I wouldn’t be able to otherwise and I’ll gladly take the trade off.

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