We spend the better part of every day of our lives connected to the Internet and, likewise, to everyone we know either in real life or solely online. Many of us never step away for more than a couple hours at a time an just long enough to get some sleep and do it again the next day.
Day in and day out, I open, close and reopen social media tabs on my computer dozens of times every hour. And when I'm mobile, I partake in a routine of hitting each icon in my "Social" folder on my devices' home screens a couple times before pocketing them or rolling over and falling a sleep.
Anything unique, interesting or exciting that I come across, I share to Facebook, Twitter or Google+, if not all of them. And rest assured, any particularly interesting thing I do, see or anywhere I go gets shared across a bevy of social media platforms. More than email, text messages and calls combined, social media is what keeps my phone buzzing at all hours of the day … and night.
It's harmless fun. And if you sit back and think about how connected we truly are, it's quite amazing. We are the first people who have had the luxury of being able to communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere in the world. No longer are location or time obstacles; they are only blips on our social timelines that reveal a deeper story about who we are, how connected we like to stay and how well we get around.
But I've explained before that the constant nagging of a smartphone can get … old and obstructive. The seemingly never-ending buzzing and blinking can interfere with your real flesh and blood work life, personal life and anything else you have going on.
A temporary disconnect is not only relieving, it's healthy and even sometimes necessary.
That doesn't mean you should go jump off the deep end and cancel your wireless and home Internet accounts and write this Internet thing off. But, from time to time, hitting the power button on all your connected devices is refreshing.
According to a recent study performed by Pew Research Center, more and more people are doing just that, at least on their Facebook accounts. "More than 60 percent of adult Facebook users say they have taken a break from the social media site," says Dylan Stableford for Yahoo! News blog The Lookout. And 27 percent of Facebook users claim they aim to spend less time on the social network this year.
Only eight percent of those who took a vacation felt they were spending too much time on the site. Some 21 percent claimed to be too busy, while 10 percent claimed it was a "general lack of interest". Another 10 percent said there was little compelling content, and nine percent dislike the "excessive gossip or drama" on the site. Four percent blamed privacy concerns for their sabbaticals.
An unsurprising 69 percent plan to continue using Facebook the same amount in 2013 as they did in 2012. Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet Project, explains the great divide:
"For some, the central calculation is how they spend their time. For others, it's more of a social reckoning as they ask themselves, 'What are my friends doing and thinking, and how much does that matter to me?' They are adding up the pluses and minuses on a kind of networking balance sheet."
For me, social media is a big part of my online presence. Facebook, specifically, is my least useful tool. I have smallest reach on Facebook and find the vast majority of the content in my News Feed useless and boring. I use Twitter day in and day out because I get more interaction there and love the atmosphere. And I find myself using Google+ more and more each day. Then there are the smaller networks, like Vine, that I only use in certain situations.
I also reinstalled Path this morning, thinking I might start breaking out the application again. But I have yet to login. For all I know, it could be a ghost town.
However, it would be practically impossible for me to stop using social media for any length of time. It's a fairly big part of my job, and connecting through social media is vital. Not to mention, I love chatting with readers and followers when I can.
But I have started to make it a point to ease up on social activity on the weekends, to get out more and do more exciting stuff and sitting aside social media for a couple days. This weekend I hardly put my phone down. But most weekends, I take a social vacation. Sometimes I will tweet a couple times and share compelling stuff to Google+ and Facebook.
As nice as stepping away for a couple weeks may sound, it just isn't possible. So I instead cut back on my activity at certain times throughout the day – around lunch and after dinner.
Tell me, readers. Do you ever feel the need to take a vacation from social media? Or is it a vital part of your day to day routine or livelihood? Do you favor some networks over others? If you had to give up one, which network would it be?