May 15, 2009
Social media fast: Maybe completely unplugging isn't the answer
Last week a moderator on an e-mail list I subscribe to challenged everyone on the list to give up Facebook, Twitter, and our third Internet addiction of choice for a week. (My third Internet addiction? Checking other authors' book rankings on Amazon. Now you know: I am petty, shallow, vain and competitive.)
Since my week of social media fasting is coming to a close, I thought I'd share how it went and what I've learned:
Unplugging altogether isn't possible during the workweek. Like many writers, I use Facebook and Twitter as part of my job, to look for sources, share links to my posts and stories when they're live, and schmooze or problem-solve with other freelancers and media folks. Not only are social networking sites convenient and efficient, they help cut through some of that freelancer solitude. But the freaky Amazon comparison game? That's something I can -- and did -- easily quit.
Responsible Twittering and Facebooking is a cinch. Call me the James Frey of Internet addictions, but I found going cold turkey on social media sites during busy workdays a snap. Not only did I finish the articles on my plate faster (I know, shocking), I had a wonderful guilty pleasure -- updating my Facebook status -- to reward myself with when done.
On slow days, breaking the "killing time online" habit takes Herculean effort. Despite the above, I learned that on slow workdays, commenting about the most trivial of matters (Sarah Palin's book deal! Adam Lambert's imminent American Idol win!) on Facebook and Twitter (or is that Fritter?) is a bit of a compulsion for me. And while I'm nowhere near as hooked on digital media as these kids, I have to consciously remind myself -- sometimes out loud -- that stepping away from the computer and taking my dog for a stroll or reading a book in the backyard sun would be so much more gratifying.
How about you? What part do social media sites like Facebook and Twitter play in your workweek, even if you're currently looking for work? Could you go cold turkey if put to the test? Or would you not know what to do with yourself?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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