Recently I described my experience in taking a whole month off of work and the entire process that went into making that a “success” (by the definition I had established for it). Rather than clog that post with a massive digression, allow me to expound on the “experiment” I mentioned there.
During my sabbatical, I experimented with leaving parts of my “online presence” behind, specifically Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Would I feel lonely? Would my friends feel slighted? Would my book sales suffer (perish the thought!)?
In order: No. I hope not. It doesn’t matter.
Because it was magical, life-changing, miraculous. I can’t imagine going back.
Now before you think I’m saying that you too should go and do likewise, I want to clarify that I’m not. You do you. I’ve just realized that there are parts of my personality that don’t thrive in those environments, that’s all.
Me + Social Networks = Sadness
I’m a contemplative/introverted sort of person. I’m not really keen on being the center of attention nor on drawing attention to myself. In the past, I’ve had minor work “celebrity” on several occasions and it was always unsettling for me. You might like it.
That said, I do enjoy it when works I’ve created are recognized and valued. I work hard to make quality books and websites. It matters to me. Both mediums are good ways for me to express myself, from the imaginative place of fiction to the working-within-constraints-to-ship-art of software development.
Like a classic introvert, I value thinking deeply on things and experience regret anytime I fire from the hip without adequate preparation.
Which is why in all my years of social media, only a tiny fraction of it fits my ideal mode of interaction.
So we come to a pretty delightful irony: the guy that built a social network isn’t really suited for social networks!
Though in my defense (against my own attack?), I did build that site to facilitate face-to-face relationships. But enough digression.
Here’s what I’m thinking will happen from here.
Facebook, after so much winnowing, is now largely family members, friends, and some co-workers. My co-workers can reach me on Slack. My family members and friends have my email/phone number and we generally hang out regularly. Even someone I haven’t met yet can reach me via email…I’m on gmail and you probably can guess the rest of my email address.
So to my friends on Facebook I say: Ask me questions when we’re in person, and I’ll do likewise. Text me when you want to chat. See you at those gatherings we already do. We’ll have more to talk about, hurray!
Author Page on Facebook
I plan to keep it up to date automatically with posts from my blog zhubert.com. Only certain posted will be broadcast from the blog to the Author page, so don’t worry about reading all sorts of nonsense. Just the good stuff, hopefully.
Since my wife is an active Instagrammer, I’m sure the family/friend/co-worker crowd will likely still see adorable pictures of my son. We should be set.
Ah Twitter. For those of you that really know me, you already know that for quite some time I’ve auto-deleted everything I’ve posted on Twitter after a few days. This was a temporary solution to the remorse that comes from being a contemplative and commenting without contemplation in only 140 characters.
It wasn’t a good medium for me in 2007 when I live blogged my day, it’s not a good medium for me now when I want to focus on longer form writing and avoid freaking out over all the horrible news.
How about some questions?
What about this blog, zhubert.com?
I will continue to post here, favoring slightly longer form essays or technical briefs on stuff that I’m doing. I might setup IFTT to publish those out to Twitter/Facebook, but I might not.
Aren’t you afraid your career might suffer if you don’t build your personal brand?
Well, I guess there’s a tiny bit of that, but given the body of work I’ve done, if that isn’t enough for some theoretical future suitor, I don’t know what is. I’m very happy in my job, grow my skills daily, try new tech constantly, and like building my “brand” through my work projects.
But what about marketing your writing?
Yeah, I know. What I’m supposed to be doing in this day and age is the exact opposite of this. I should live online, build endearment and presence, and then market to my engaged core of 2,000 that will provide a living.
Here’s the deal though. . .I already have a job! I actually don’t even want to make money off of my writing, I just want people to read and enjoy it. I’m still amazed that my first book has sold more than three hundred copies. I was expecting a few dozen, but it just keeps reaching new readers, and that’s super encouraging.
To that end, I think the best thing I can do with my time is write better books. While logistically the time spent Tweeting/Facebooking isn’t the time I spend writing, I can still use that frittered away time dreaming up more imaginative characters and environments for my future books, and I’ve got a really good idea for my next book!
Aren’t you afraid your relationships will suffer?
I certainly hope not, but you are correct that without the passive awareness of what is going on in hundreds of lives, I will have to be more diligent with the dozens that I interact with regularly. I’m happy to count email correspondence too, so even if you’re on the other side of the world, we can still be friends :)
Somehow people were friends for millions of years before this social networking stuff, I think we can find a way forward without it. At least for me. You do you. :)
One of the benefits of working for an awesome company like Planning Center is every five years you get to take a whole month off, in addition to your other paid vacation. How fantastic is that?!
After a successful experiment with Social Media Abstinence, I knew I wasn’t going to return to Facebook and Twitter, but how could I solve the problems caused by not being on them?