Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

A Year Away From Social Media

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Every year I try to do three new things. I find the personal challenge combined with the knowledge gained to be incredibly satisfying. In 2018, I tackled the elimination of social media from my everyday diet. During the middle of the year, I checked in for a week to see what, if anything, I was missing. Now with 2018 firmly in the rearview mirror, here’s what I can say about taking a year off of social media.

It’s impossible to completely escape social media. So much of how the web works today is reliant on the idea of leveraging social media for the purposes of access, consumption or communication.

  • Access: How many platforms, sites, apps, etc. do you belong to that require some type of social connection to log in? Every time you use Facebook Connect to create an account or access a digital property, you’re using social media.
  • Consumption: Much of the news and information we consume is on social media. In the last 20 years, we’ve seen a clear shift from consumption on site (e.g. ESPN.com) to consumption via the inbox (e.g. remember Daily Candy?) to consumption via the “feed”. If you want news, in all its forms and you want to know what’s going in with friends, co-workers and family, social media is the fastest and often easiest way to catch up.
  • Communication: Yes, it’s been said before, social media is the modern day water cooler. It’s full of gossip, casual pleasantries and respite from our jobs and life. However, even traditional communication methods like texting are becoming more social. And, when done right, the conversations that take place on social media are interesting, thought-provoking and memorable. It’s also fascinating and often times, helpful how quickly you can share something and have it reach so many. I was reminded of how wonderful social media can be for that purpose when my father unexpectedel passed away.

So, if we can’t escape it completely, the real question for me after a year away is, how do I make social media work better for me? If you will, how do you make it an enriching experience?

I still believe what I wrote in July when I checked back into social media:

  • We see the very best in humanity, but also the very worst.
  • Garbage in, Garbage Out: What you see in your social media feed is directly tied to what and who you follow.
  • As Gregory House once said, “People don’t change. They just become more of who they really are.” Social media is a mirror, megaphone and magnifying glass.

With that in mind, what I’ve decided is Lincoln was right, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” In this instance, if you want social media to be a cesspool of stupidity, arguments over politics and incessant updates about Peloton/Soul Cycle rides, well, you will find it. If however, you aspire to see all the good out there, well, you will find it. To that end, in 2019, I’ll be doing 3 things with my social media habits:

  1. Clean the Feed: Follow what’s interesting and enjoyable to me. Remove the accounts, people and content that takes away from my enjoyment.
  2. Restrained Sharing: If there’s one thing I really enjoyed about being off of social media, it was not having to broadcast and share everything. I could just watch John’s basketball game or Cora dance during New Year’s Eve at a bowling alley, in a sparkly dress. Yes, that happened. In fact, you can have brunch without telling everyone about it on Instagram.

That’s it. Just those two things. I’m convinced if I do both, I’ll find social media to be the wonderful connected and inspiring forum it once was to me.