Graduating from Central Michigan University with a degree in integrative public relations and in communication, my career depends on me having a great online reputation to be a successful communications professional.
I took a break from social media during my last year as an undergraduate to focus on the responsibilities requiring action in front of me. Every time I checked my phone, I noticed it disrupted my thought process – which overall decreased my rate of productivity.
I wanted to share my overall opinion of what I have learned. Looking back on my experience, I realized what I did was rare and against the social norm of my generation.
Below are my observations and lessons I have noticed.
1. Expectations I didn’t know others had for me
Entering the workforce was definitely eye-opening for me. As a labeled Millelenial, there was an ultimate expectation for me to be to be connected online on all channels of communication and respond within 60 seconds or less to my notifications.
If I didn’t respond promptly, others thought I didn’t care or value our friendship. Which was not the case at all!
2. How people treated me
Some folks admired my decision to take a step away – others thought I was irrelevant even to pay attention too. I didn’t take offense to it either or. I understand everyone in this world has different goals they would like to achieve in life.
When you scroll on a random profile, it is more impressive to see a person with 10,000 followers (who post 3x a week) versus 960 followers (posts 1x a month). The number of followers an individual has on their social media page grabs your attention, but in 2018 followers can be bought. Sometimes how active you are on your own social media page influences others perception of you in real life.
I learned it is more important to maintain the relationships you have now than worrying about the number of followers one person has.
3. A decrease in social relationships
When my phone notifications overloaded my inbox – I turned off my notifications off. When I’m in class, meetings or work, I tuck my phone in my bag so I can 100 percent focus on what’s in front of me.
Not knowing my friend’s latest life updates or breaking news in my local community limited the number of interactions I had with my peers. In 2017, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas Jeffrey Hall said: “it takes about 80-100 hours of together time -to transition from a casual friend to friend.” By decreasing the amount of time I would be on social media, I limited the number of friends I could have gained.
To help make sure others didn’t think I was ghosting them, I let them know to call me if they needed an immediate answer or to text me.
Taking time off of the screen made me feel less anxious and nervous about myself overall. I slept better. I focused more on my priorities and less on what other people my age were doing. My body and brain thanks me every day for taking the time to focus on myself. 🙂
5. Apparently, If you didn’t “Snap” it never happened
My friends started saying phrases like – “did you see my snap the other day” or “did you see her snap with ____” and “snap it, or it didn’t happen.” If I didn’t see the snap as soon as it happened, I missed out on knowing a particular moment in my friend’s life. I understand everyone has a billion things going on and it’s hard to remember every detail of the day!
My takeaway from this is that everyone should consider taking a break from social media – with proper planning.
Keep in mind your own experience might be different than mine. But when you do, make sure to let people know you aren’t going to be as active on your page! Others appreciate the heads up and your actions won’t be miscommunicated.
If you took a social media break or want to share how your experience differs, comment below or connect with me online!