In the August issue of Fast Company, Baratunde Thurston (the “world’s most connected man”) took a 25-day hiatus from social media. That meant no tweeting, no emailing, no FourSquaring–nothing.
All things business were placed on hold.
In the issue he explains, “I have left the internet. I’m on vacation. That means no social media updates, responses, check-ins, likes, taps, pokes, noogies, tickles, or head locks. I’m going to practice looking people in the eye.”
We live in a tech ravenous age. Each of us a mega-bite thirsty zombie in need of a constant stream of information to survive. We take our phones to the bathroom. Check them while we pump gas. They are loaded with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Soundcloud, and FourSquare (and that’s just the tip of the digital iceberg) apps, and it’s not uncommon to see two people at dinner, heads buried –not in delicious plates or conversation– but in technology. We are (hyperbole alert) the Walking (talking, texting, Facebooking) Dead.
Yet despite our general acknowledgement of this Networked Age, we have a difficult time breaking the habit. Chances are you check your Twitter before you brush your teeth. It’s our new morning ablution.
We all see it on the daily, some in more extreme scenarios. Picture this: a couple a dinner, passing a tablet back and forth, while they play Scrabble in silence. We’ve seen it.
So when Mr. Thurston announced that he would be taking a digital detox, it certainly peaked our logged on interest. In his first week of social media free bliss (meltdown?) he was “deeply, happily, and personally social.”
“A friend and I went to see The Book of Mormom and then went to dinner. The waitstaff, my friend, and I were the only people aware of my order. I read Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt, and shared my thoughts on it with seven people I had invited to dinner in my home. I wandered through a nearby park and chilled near the Hare Krishna, close enough to take in their incense and drumming, far enough to avoid their pamphlets. I bought a new pair of glasses and shared my new face with the real people I spent time with.”
Seems simple enough, right? But turn just one page in the August issue and you’ll find Austin Carr’s article on how Instagram CEO is trying to find a way to advertize without disengaging his 100 million users– a number that has tripled in the last year alone. Carr himself once described Instagram as “visual crack.”
So how does Fast Company suggest breaking the habit? Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Turn off automatic sync on your phone. You can survive without all of the pushed notifications.
2. Set your away message for email. Courteous but firm is their advice.
3. Establish emergency exceptions. No, this does not include Yelping the restaurant you can’t remember the name of. Use that big brain. Or ask a stranger.
4. Take a deep breath. The first two days are always the worst.
What will you learn? For starters, Baratunde discovered he was, “addicted to myself…Never before had we had the ability to micro-gauge our own rhetorical value to the world.”
We wonder if Instagram will try and create a filter for that.