Social Media and the Nature of Reality

in Social Media

Last month, I conducted an informal social experiment.  As ironic as it may seem (in light of my line of work), I undertook a 30 day boycott of the internet in general and of social media in particular.  I thought it would be interesting to see if a) the boycott had a noticeable impact on my day-to-day productivity, and b) to determine the extent to which I’ve come to rely on social media for personal and business communications. So for the month of October, I abandoned the statusphere and went back to using email and *gasp* the telephone for the vast majority of my communications.

At first, it was a difficult transition to make.  Twitter and (to a lesser extent) Facebook have become primary modes of communication for me.  Most of the people I connect with on a regular basis are members of one site or the other, and in many cases both. The greatest challenge for me was to break my own personal patterns of internet usage, and to act as if social media simply didn’t exist. Surprisingly, it was not as easy as one might think.

So what did I learn? I learned that, while we tend to think of the internet as ever-changing, very little actually changes day-to-day. I also learned that time spent on social media sites has very little impact on my general productivity.  While I may have gotten slightly more work done, I spent a lot more time researching things that would normally have been crowdsourced.  I was also reminded of the importance of maintaining a sense of balance with regards to work and life, and that it’s an especially important consideration for those of us who work on the web.

Perhaps the greatest lesson learned from my experiment is that none of this social media stuff really matters.  Social media may provide us with the ability to connect and communicate with our friends and business associates, but it’s not a substitute for real engagement with real people in real life. I think those of us who spend a significant amount of time online tend to forget that there’s an important distinction to be made between the *real* world and that which exists online.

As John Lennon once said, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Yer Mom 05.14.10 at 06:14

Certainly the ability to maintain a balance between work and life especially when working on the net is an invaluable understanding of a proper perspective.

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