I am not quitting social media

But I have been scaling back my use of it.

It began, quite inadvertently and unconsciously, over the holiday break when I realized that there were days where I didn’t post – or even check – a FaceTwitLinkFlickagram feed. Which was unusual.

As I reflected on my use of social media in the past year, I realized that my use of social media had amped up in 2016, especially Facebook. I was spending a lot of mindless time on FB and it was making me feel anxious and stressed. The intense heated rhetoric leading up to the US election on both FB and Twitter didn’t help and I was feeling compelled to be on SM a lot. It wasn’t until the holiday break when I went days without checking and posting that I realized just how much SM was stressing me out.

So, as a new year begins, I am trying to be more mindful of my use of social media. FB and Twitter don’t sit open on my computer. I only check once or twice a day, usually when someone tags me as I have disabled most notifications on my devices to help curb the Pavlovian response. I am only on for a few moments at a time, check notifications, and then pop off. I am not automatically sharing photos or stories I read, despite actually doing more reading, albeit in physical and not digital form. Getting a daily physical newspaper has been the way I have been keeping and mitigating the FOMO for larger issues, although I know I am missing details of friends lives.  However, overall, I feel less tense and stressed, more focused on my immediate surroundings and find I am actually not missing SM all that much.

The one bit that does cause me a bit of angst is that I have spent the past 10 years building a professional digital identity using social media. Although my network and SM use has never been written into a formal job description (in fact, in the early days just the opposite where my use of SM was viewed by some colleagues with F.U.D.), I know that my use of social media is a big component of my professional work and a significant part of the value I bring to the different groups I am involved with. It does cause me some tension when I know that there are things I should be sending to my network and, even though there is no formal expectation from the people I work with that I amplify stuff, I do feel an unspoken (and largely self-induced) expectation that I be engaged. I am not sure if/how I should communicate this scaling back to people in my network, which is why I am writing this blog post that (ironically) most of you will read after I post it to my various social media networks.

I suspect I am not alone in this uncomfortable feeling. I have consciously chosen to blur the lines between my personal and professional life by being engaged on SM as me. It still feels like the most genuine way to use social media. But I do wonder if, by choosing to scale back my use of social media, it may somehow impact me professionally.

I am especially aware of this as I head into teaching a course at Royal Roads University that begins in a few weeks. If there was ever a time I would want to actually ramp up my social media use to model network learning principles to learners, now would be the time.

Also adding to my apprehension about scaling back my use of social media is the fact that my daughter is turning 13 and wants to begin engaging with social media. One of the rules we have always had about her SM use is that when she starts to engage, she needs to have me in her network at least until she gets the lay of land. So, my feeling that I need to scale back on my SM use comes at an awkward time, both personally and professionally.

All this is to say, you are likely not seeing quite as much of me out there on FaceTwitLinkFlickagram and that is intentional. At any given moment, I’ll likely scale it back up. But for now, I’m ok with sitting on the side for a bit as I rebalance and try to find a new equilibrium.

I am also curious as to whether you feel this tension as well. When you have completely blurred the lines between professional and personal on SM, do you feel pressure to continue being fully engaged on SM even when you don’t want to? When your personal wants a break? How do you handle it, and do you communicate with your network that you are scaling back?


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.


7 thoughts on “I am not quitting social media

  1. I did something similar just a couple of weeks ago. Between the stress of the US politics stuff, and the limited amount of space for apps on my phone, I decided to take FB off the phone and only look at in on my laptop, about once a day. It’s been awesome. So much less stress and anger!

    I’ve certainly found that on Twitter, the political voices are shouting louder. I guess it’s time for another purge there, but I won’t leave altogether. I have greatly valued the EdTech (and other) lists I’ve built over the years. That communication on social media pre-dated my graduate degree at RRU (which featured a lot of Learning and Technology courses, though it was an Interdisciplinary Studies degree) and I actually learned the term PLN from you. That online communication has been really important to me, and it continues to keep me current and interested, even in the times where my edtech focus is more amateur than professional.

    There are plenty of ways to moderate/mediate our communications with learning networks, family and friends. I’m glad that you have always brought your whole self to those conversations, Clint!

  2. You could be like D’Arcy Norman, quit for a while, and come back as @realclintlalonde

    I hear so much of this and defining a reason is not easy. The landscapes change. The outfall of politics and more hateful acts. It might be fatigue, boredom, or finding you are diminishing elsewhere.

    It should always be metered and fluctuate, and not be some obligation or power statement. Always be modulating. My main measures are- (1) Am I getting something out of it- not ego points or counts; is it feeding my curiosity? Am I having fun? But also (2) am I feeling like I am giving back?

    Folks focus on (1) but if more experienced people fade back; it makes the foul voices louder. And it leaves less of a (1) for new people. So I think there is some amount of public duty, as a commons.

    That’s is of course everyone’s thing to figure out. Killing my FB was easy, but I still get a lot of info and fun in twitter. But there are other attention draws too; always email, but text messages, Slacks, and many more notification driving apps. It’s not all social media.

    So dial back dial in, modulate. That’s all healthy. As is newspapers and bike rides. I’ll miss ya if you go too quiet.

    1. Modulation is a great word to describe it. I don’t know if I could ever go all D’arcy, but then again I haven’t had to deal with even more challenging issues like you and Alec have with FB and catfishing. If that started happening, then I would be tempted.

  3. Hi Clint–I feel very similarly. My wife left Facebook about 18 months ago, and it was a great decision. I’ve been tempted very strongly to do so myself, but mostly stay for professional reasons (and to share news about our son with our family). I’ve also diminished the frequency with which I check both facebook and twitter, and have started using Nuzzel as an aggregator of stories of interest in my twitter feed. I’m still a pretty heavy user of feedly and pocket, but that’s more for reading alone–though I do use the pocket ‘recommended’ tool. The social wells that I was drinking from have been pretty well poisoned, though because the changes were gradual and slow, it was a bit harder for me to step away than they would have been if they happened all at once. Glad you’re still active here, though, and I’ll keep following you on your own domain!

    1. “the changes were gradual and slow”. Kind of like the frog in the pot who didn’t notice the temperature of the water was continually rising. The one change that I have definitely noticed is that the makeup of people in my network has changed. In the early days, I used SM almost exclusively as a tool in my PLN tool, connecting with and following others working in my fields of interest. Today, there are many more friends and family in my networks as SM has moved into the maninstream. The makeup of my network has certainly changed from strictly professional, to a mixture of both professional and personal, with many of those early professional connections evolving into friendships beyond professional.

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