As an experiment, I quit the internet in September 2012. I started with Twitter, I moved on to Facebook and ended by shuttering my blog. I didn’t stop freelancing or responding to emails, but I dropped social media and my participation in it like a hot potato and I haven’t looked back. I held a client meeting at Dunkin’ Donuts. If I wanted to see adorable pictures of my nieces, I had to email my sister to request them. I had more room in my schedule for the gym. The less time I’ve spent working on my online brand, the more offline opportunities have come my way. Here are three reasons you too should disentangle yourself from the social web in 2013:
It harms your self-esteem
While evidence for Social Media Anxiety Disorder is largely anecdotal at present, a UK study from the fall found that over 50% of social media users evaluated their participation in social networking as having an overall negative effect on their lives. Specifically, they singled out the blow to their self-esteem that comes from comparing themselves to peers on Facebook and Twitter as the biggest downfall. It seems trite, but you can’t feel anxious about the achievements of your old college roommate or your MIT fellow cousin if you don’t know about them in the first place. And forget about social media stalking your ex; it’s as unhealthy as you’d guess.
Your blood pressure will thank you
Social media a hotbed of bad behaviour – flame wars, bragging, bashing and crimes against grammar, among other misdeeds. If you find yourself getting unduly irritated by, say, entitled Millennials tweeting their displeasure at being denied iPhones by Santa, or falling victim to Godwin’s Law while arguing with cyber strangers, it might be time to take a timeout. And make sure that break is a legitimate one – none of this downloading an app to manage your social media obligations for you.
Online is no substitute for offline
Almost a quarter of people in a recent American study said that they’ve missed out on important life moments in their quest to capture and memorialise them for social media. Think about that the next time you’re Instagraming your anniversary dinner at P.F. Chang’s. With the ubiquity of communications technology in our daily lives, it’s easy to convince ourselves that the digital world is where all the action is and that the effort we put into building our online empire directly correlates to IRL benefits such as scoring a new job or landing a new mate. In fact, over 90% of job hunters of all ages look for work online, but less than 5% are conducting offline job hunting activities such as attending networking events or setting up information interviews. And guess what? A full 70 – 80% of job vacancies are never posted, so all that job board scouring is likely for naught. If the only benefit you’ve derived from flexing your social media muscle was free anti-antiperspirant samples from the folks at Klout, it might be time to direct your energy elsewhere.
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