For the month of August I took a break from all social media. Because it’s summer. Because as an author with six books coming out in the next year, this is my last chance to lay low online. Because I was in the habit of checking in first thing in the morning, then every 15 minutes when I was writing—and that felt like too much. Because I forgot what it was like not knowing everything all the time.
Here’s what I discovered when I cut out Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Foursquare for a month:
I missed social media when I was waiting for the elevator…and in all those other little moments (spent waiting in line at the post office or on the platform waiting for the subway to arrive or whenever I didn’t have enough time to dive in and then back out of a book). I love catching up on everyone’s news in a spare minute or two and then moving on.
I missed people’s birthdays. Ten minutes into a phone call with a dear friend, she mentioned that it was her birthday and I had no idea! That was the moment I realized how much I rely on those notices to keep me informed of things like that. So, to everyone I know who had a birthday in August: Happy Birthday! J
I really missed Pinterest. Most of my social media use is checking in periodically while I write because I find I just need to give my brain a rest. I was surprised how easily I gave up this habit of peeking at Twitter and Facebook. But Pinterest…I craved Pinterest. After long days of looking at words, all I want is to gaze at pretty and inspiring pictures.
I did not miss my habit of checking in first thing in the morning. I told my husband once that it’s important to, on Twitter, follow people in England so one has tweets to read upon waking. I’ve hopefully broken that habit and instead just think, write in my journal, or read a book. It’s a much calmer start to my day.
But I didn’t really miss any of it. Sometimes I would sit at my desk, aware that there was an entire other world happening online. Without me. Having turned off Foursquare notifications, I didn’t know where my friends and acquaintances were having lunch or drinking beer. I didn’t know about people’s blogs, or sales, or little musings, or funny cat pictures. It’s been a great break, but I’m eager to go back online and reconnect with a little more restraint.
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Her latest book is Seducing the Single Lady, a historical romance based on Beyoncé songs. Learn more at mayarodale.com