If you looked at my Twitter or Instagram accounts, you would have noticed that I’ve been off of them for over a 100 days now. Although my use of social media was mostly to share knowledge and inspiration, I have come to see that it has become a distraction to me.
I was an active user of Twitter and Instagram, and believed, and still do, that they are the best way to be entertained, educated and informed. As a quiet person in real life, those tools enabled me to be more vocal and expressive of my opinions and allowed me to share the knowledge I had, and appreciate the knowledge that I received. I had the chance to meet interesting individuals who had widened my horizons and showed me opportunities that I had never imagined having. In fact, had it not been for Twitter, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to write for Sail eMagazine or get to know its amazing family. So, why did I decide to go offline?
I can say that social media has allowed me to become more social. However, it would be unfair to stop at that sentence, for it had only allowed me to be so in its own space. It’s true that such media makes us more connected, but we sometimes fail to realize that by amplifying this “online connection”, we could be compromising our offline connections; work, family, and friends. But of course, the case differs from a user to another.
In my case, I focused on adding value to, and learning from, the virtual world while –to an extent- failing to do the same in the world I physically live in, which I feel is more important. That being said, I believe the elephant in the room here is “balance”. As it was once said; “If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.” So whether what we do is good or bad, taking it to an extreme, will result in an unpleasant compromise.
On my sabbatical from social media, I was less dependent on getting news from tweets, so I made a greater effort at reading newspapers, which I did while sitting next to my father and resulted in us having interesting long conversations in the process. And, instead of reading the tweets of heritage and culture Tweeps, I had regular talks with my grandmother which strengthened our bond and lifted her spirit. I have also come back to my long-deserted talent of drawing which gave me a sense of fulfillment more than the beautiful Instagram photos I used to take pleasure in. Finally, by reducing such distraction, I was able to get my hands on a book that is literally changing my life, and I’m currently in the process of re-evaluating my life purpose and my personal grand plan accordingly.
I believe that in addition to balance, “self-control” is needed to avoid an addiction or a disorganized dedication to social networking services. It’s about being able to resist the craving to sneak a peak at your phone when you’re with the family, or fight the temptation of checking your timeline while finishing up a task at work.
Once you see yourself immersed in something more than need be, take a break, re-evaluate, then proceed. Social media is still great, so long as we never let it distract us from what’s important. We must realize that social media is complementary, and our social circle in reality is primary.
I’m not sure when I’ll be back. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in a few weeks time; or it could be next year. In any case, I would only return when I’m 100% sure that the value I add or receive from online communities is not at the expense of my time with those whom I value most.
Founder of @BetweenTheSips -a social media initiative that moderates social conversations. Alanoud’s passion is public speaking and designing infographics, reading and researching.
Through “Beyond Inspiration”, Alanoud aims to share personal experiences, struggles, and aha moments that can spark a flame within the reader to reach their full potential.