Putting time previously spent on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to better use.

I decided a couple months ago to take a social media holiday. I had plenty of good reasons to do so. Those reasons included the tremendous amount of time I found myself spending on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, much of which, I concluded after some introspection, was a complete waste of time. Another good reason is the negativity that all that social media contains. Because a good part of my reliance on social media was for news, I got a lot of negative information on the political situation, environment, world threats, criminal behavior of people toward pets and children — and more. On top of it, I found myself posting way too much information about myself, my kids, and my stuff — much of which “the public” just doesn’t need to know. And finally, my attention span was becoming ridiculously short. Lately, I wouldn’t even pick up a magazine, much less a book. It was clearly time for a break!

So I simply turned off Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and here’s what’s happened:

Suddenly, I had all this time — Sure, I am still super busy with multiple businesses and being a college professor. And yes, it was hard to get away from my tremendous addiction of checking my phone every 15 seconds, but once I did I was rewarded with time. Time to interact with real people, listen, read, and think.

My mental outlook immediately improved — Less negative and more positive — less depressed. Social media facilitates knowing too much about everyone, and that gives you reasons not to like them. A lot of what isn’t negative on social media is often sarcastic, which becomes tiresome, especially if it starts to creep into everything you do.

I could think about my businesses — I came up with several new ideas that I think will be helpful. I called some people I hadn’t spoken with in too long. I talked with some others I should have been talking with more. I think a lot of good will come from freeing my time and mental energy.

I became a better listener — Instead of halfway listening to other people, I could all-the-way listen. And I could give them my full attention, not my usual partial attention. I found right away that I enjoyed talking with people more. The benefit of that is people like you more. You seem like you care because you actually do care more because you are more tuned in and more empathetic. 

I became painfully aware of how much social media has been a platform for me to glorify my ego. All the posts showing my stuff, my kids, and my accomplishments were way too much. Showing off becomes addictive and it paints an unrealistic portrait of me and my real life. The social media holiday is going to make me less egocentric and humbler. People will know less about me — and that’s OK.

I bought a new book and read it. 

With all of these benefits from my social media holiday, I’ve decided to extend it and make it a longer-term deal. And while, yes, I will need to seek out new sources of information to stay better informed and new ways to market our businesses and myself, I think the result will be more innovation, less conformity, and more authentic uniqueness. Time will tell if I’m right.

So, turn off your phones and enjoy the August issue of Civil + Structural Engineer magazine — and thank you for reading!