Most of my followers know I’m on a social media detox and have been for a month or so. Obviously, I still blog so it’s not a complete detox. I also have a LinkedIn profile which I use to see what our alumni are up to (hello!). But I left Twitter and Facebook. I still have a web presence on all University of Brighton systems (also, hello!).
Why am I not on other social media?
This is a tough question. I enjoy experimenting with new social media but there are times when I just need a break from it. Most people would take a break; stop checking their email/phone and come back to it later. I’m not the sort of person who can just let a representation of myself float around aimlessly in cyberspace – if I know about it, I am constantly checking it or deactivating it (there’s no inbetween for me).
I deactivated my Twitter in late March. It was the social media platform I used the most. I used to check my analytics weekly; I had a great reach and engagement rate. But I didn’t feeling like my interactions were meaningful. I enjoyed taking part in #museumhour weekly – I believe these Twitterchats were important for my personal and professional development as a museum volunteer. Outside of Twitterchats I often felt like I was shouting into a void when I spoke about my life, or promoting University of Brighton events/projects.
When I left Twitter, I replaced the app on my smartphone with My Fitness Pal. I lost 10lbs in that month, and ended up spending more time being crafty. I wanted to use the social media detox as a springboard into healthier habits.
What I have gained from spending less time on social media
I blog more, as you can see. Blogging is a different way to write – it’s hard to explain without experiencing it for yourself. I ponder subjects as I write, but I also struggle more with expression. I spend more time on the appearance and content of a blog.
I take a lot less photographs since I left Twitter. I might move over to Instagram (again) at some point, as I do miss taking photographs. I’ve realised in the past month that I regularly used photographs as a prompt for discussion, or as filler when I wanted to connect with people but didn’t have the words that day.
How is my new smartphone?
Now I have an android a lot more apps are available to me, so I expect that I’ll be spending more time in MOOCs. MOOCs often have forums and blogs attached to them, so I will be on social media but I will be communicating to a closed community. I’ll be updating about that throughout the summer.
What I miss about social media
I feel like my Twitter helped me connect with remote colleagues in the university and I was able to network with local people (great for my job!). I was relatively well-know in my university because of my Twitter account; colleagues and departments retweeted and mentioned me. People could see how much University of Brighton means to me. Nowadays I am applying for fulltime jobs and, I know that some employers search for applicants on social media, I wonder if my Twitter account might’ve been an asset as it shows my creativity and enthusiasm. I guess this is just a long-winded way to say that I think my Twitter account may have made me more employable.
— Uni Brighton alumni (@brightonalumni) August 22, 2016
How I used social media as a student
My department and lecturers use social media. A lot of the work we do is with community groups, and as artists. Our interactions on social media are supportive rather than theoretical, with occasional pieces of information put in.
Another part of the project involved using Edublogs. Nick Feather came in to talk to us about using them. It felt a bit weird being taught about something I use regularly; especially as I find blogging to be more of a practical skill so hearing about Edublogs without the experience of using them felt alien. Blogging is something I try to encourage people to use with their hands, because there is so much to talk about that I wouldn’t know where to start. In the session with Nick Feather I saw the reverse; people wanting to know more about it before trying it.
Seeing Nick Feather work was very interesting (partially because he is doing a job I’d love to do). I started to think about the ways I could encourage people to use Edublogs. I have shown colleagues how to use Edublogs in the past and they all seemed to respond better to one-to-one discussions. I know it’s stating the obvious, but I noticed how difficult it is to talk about a practical tool which you are trying to encourage someone to use for reflection and/or creative expression. When I show Edublogs to people I always tell them to log-in and do some test posts and look around the dashboard, but many seem reluctant.
There’s so much to unpack here. Is there a fear or doing something wrong? Is there a lack of confidence in taking ownership of this tool? Is it confusing? Is the fact blogging is so flexible giving people too little structure? I know it could be any number of these things and then some more. These are questions and issues that have come up in my teaching/facilitation in the past – and right now I’m understanding why I put that element of my life on a backburner. Geez, there’s too much to think about.
The future of social media
I mentioned in my blog post yesterday that we have so many different ways to communicate and, for me, that means I spread myself too thin. And I start to feel like my engagements are shallow. However, I am happy that there is so many social media platforms out there – much like offline conversation, this means people can come and go as they please, they can dip their toes or dive right in, they can be in a busy crowd or a secluded spot.
What I expect to see in the future are multiple fragmented conversations all over the place. Some will last longer than the others. Some will be a burst of noise and some will be distant whispers. I may even join in at some point.