Notes from a Social Media Semi-Hiatus

by Greg on July 23, 2012

I’ve been on a semi-hiatus from social media for the last month or so. I haven’t been totally absent – I made it to a #kidlitchat or two on Twitter; I’ve updated my Facebook status and commented there a few times; I even got a couple posts up at GottaBook – but for the most part, I’ve laid low.

This wasn’t 100% a choice, I must admit, but involved a combination of the need to pack and move, a week with no internet access, getting sick and choosing sleep, and general busy-ness. Still, I have a few observations….

People will still be there when you come back. In fact, every time I checked in, I “ran into” people I knew. I liked the connection, particularly while feeling otherwise disconnected.

My blog traffic suffered. No real surprise there – with no new material, it’s up to Google searches to make a difference. Will I lose a bunch of subscribers upon my return? We’ll see.

My e-book sales of The Late Bird dropped noticeably. This might not be cause and effect – it’s summer, so my teacher and student blog-reading/book reading audience is largely on vacation – but I suspect that not being around has kept others from thinking about/mentioning/buying the book. (BTW… feel free to mention the book!)

I did not get more writing done. However… I mean, the reason I wasn’t active online was that I had no time! It was not a month about writing. In fact, I only mention this because when I tell folks I wasn’t active online for a month, this is their first question!

I missed the social aspects of online life but not the endless stream of activity. My friends don’t update with “noise,” for the most part, but with stuff I am interested in. So, I missed not reading it all. However, I did NOT miss the endless aspect of social media.

I never felt the urge to spend hours catching up. There was no addiction withdrawal. No twitchiness. OK, maybe a little the week with no access, but even then… it was not so bad. At first, there was a tiny feeling of shirking responsibility… as though checking in had become a duty. By the end of the month, I didn’t feel that at all.

Will this impact how I use social media going forward? That’s hard to say. I’d be interested in trying another “slow to no” month when I had a project I was working on. I saw Mitali Perkins’ results of her virtual retreat, and I am curious if I’d have the same experience.

On the whole, the best part of the time off is the realization that… simply put… it’s all okay! Sure, I might lose some readers and some Twitter followers/connections, but it’s not a permanent blow. I am sure this also depends on how you use social media normally, but for me… it’s all good.

Have you tried a detox (by choice or necessity)? How did it go for you? Like so much else with social media, I find there’s fear involved in cutting back, too, but my experience, at least, says the fear is not necessary. I’ll be interested to hear if you found the same….

 

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen Robinson July 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I disappeared for months after my daughter was born, and was quite surprised to find, as you did, that people were still there when I came back. I wasn’t as active on Twitter before that anyway, but still… It worked out fine. I’m honestly only just now getting back to reading other people’s blog posts on a regular basis (2 years later). But I think you do what you can, and connect where you can, and most people understand that life gets in the way of communicating sometimes. Hope to see you around a bit more, though!

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Greg Pincus July 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

I have always said “do what you can” and always lived that, too. The hardest for me was not blogging – that is where I feel responsibility, since folks subscribe/read because by having a blog, I’ve basically said “I’ll be providing content!” But even there, well, you do what you can. And I do hope to be around more!

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Janice Leagra July 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Greg,

I found this post interesting because I find the whole social media thing exhausting at times. I just started a new blog and I really have a hard time with all the self-promotion stuff. I don’t like to bother people. LOL So there are times I think I would like to take a break from it, but don’t think it would be a good idea because it’s basically a necessary evil for a writer trying to build his/her platform. I just want to write, you know?

Anyway, hope you’re enjoying your new place!

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Greg Pincus July 24, 2012 at 11:08 am

It can be exhausting, though I think a lot of that is when we listen to the voices telling us we “have” to do some X or we “need” to do some Y. The truth has always been… it’s great if you can, but if you can’t, you do what you can do. I am a huge believer in having a platform and being active, of course, but nothing takes the place of creating.

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Renee LaTulippe July 24, 2012 at 1:23 am

Hey Greg – very timely. I just announced a hiatus from my blog until September 3. I have much the same audience as you and noticed that readership had gone way down once summer hit, plus I have some other projects I’d like to dedicate some time to. So although I was nervous about leaving for so long, I think it will be fine in the end, particularly if I’m rested and come back with some great content. And I will admit that this week – the first that I didn’t put up a post on Monday – left me with a sense of relief! Blogging and the social media that it entails takes a LOT of energy, perhaps even more than I was aware of. I love blogging, but I am definitely enjoying my break! And I’m not getting any writing done, either…

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Greg Pincus July 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

It is interesting to see what feels like responsibility and what feels like fun/pleasure/productivity. I also think that our lives in general take priority over our online lives… so sometimes, we just have to make choices that are right for us in a certain period of time.

And good luck with the projects!

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elizabeth July 24, 2012 at 5:29 am

I hope you’re settled in and enjoying your new home!
My only hiatuses are short ones – on vacation. It usually takes me a few days to kick the internet urge habit – but once I do – it’s so much more relaxing! It’s like you switch from trying so hard to living in the here and now.
e

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Greg Pincus July 24, 2012 at 11:09 am

There’s that weird balance between checking in because we want to and checking in because we feel we should. Without the “should,” on our shoulders, it’s much more relaxing, indeed.

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Chris Pedersen July 24, 2012 at 7:41 am

Great post, Greg!

I had a hiatus last December necessitated by a move. It felt good and I returned with a much more relaxed attitude about all the social media stuff. You’re so right Janice, it’s so exhausting.

You do what you can. Life is more important. Sunshine is good. Touching friends lives in the flesh is better. That’s what I learned.

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Greg Pincus July 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

I agree, Chris, and have always lived that way. So my overall attitude hasn’t changed, but it was definitely good to see the proof in action. I think the relaxed attitude makes it all much more fun (even the “work” aspects of social media), and that is a very, very good thing!

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Deborah Halverson July 30, 2012 at 9:03 am

In the ebb and flow of life, sometimes the Semi-Hiatus happens. I ran into that myself this month due to writing deadlines and conference prep. Once I made the mental decision that it was okay for this to happen once in a blue moon, I was able to focus on what needed tending to with an excitement about returning to social media at full speed instead of a sense of angst over having dropped a ball. Welcome back!

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