The Need for a Social Media Sabbatical

Categories Rest

It’s been a few days since my last post. I want to thank all of you for sharing Bethany’s story and supporting her family through this time. It was amazing to me to see the incredible power of community, and I was reminded how much we really do need one another.

As I began to contemplate my next post, nothing really seemed right. Maybe I just needed some time or maybe I was suffering from a severe case of writer’s block, but as I thought about some of the things I’ve been hearing and thinking about over the past week, I realized that we should not have to apologize for silence.

In our increasingly connected world, we NEED time away.

I’ve shared in the past about the pressure that I sometimes feel to be active on social media. To produce. To engage. None of these things are wrong in their own right. As a matter of fact, I am actually very appreciative of living in a time when I can Skype with my parents who live 350 miles away or message one of my best friends living in Spain or share an important story with people who may not have heard otherwise.

But I’m finding that we still NEED time away.

I’m not sure what that looks like for you. To be honest, I haven’t figured it out totally for myself just yet. There are a lot of different approaches. Some take an extreme approach like Baratunde Thurston who took 25 days off of social media altogether. Others choose a long weekend here or there to take a break from devices and connectivity.

There are websites, events, and blogs aplenty related to the need for a Digital Detox or a Tech Sabbath. For some, a standardized approach may seem too restricting while for others, lack of planning and purpose will simply mean it never happens.

The next time you are out to eat at a restaurant, look around you. As you walk through the mall, observe. Count how many people are on a device of some kind. See how many people are engaged in the virtual world while ignoring the people around them.

I need to say once again that I don’t have any problem with devices or the internet. They are incredible tools that I use nearly every day. I don’t plan to return to a pager or snail mail as my primary forms of communication. I am just cautioning us (myself included) that we NEED time away. Our connectivity should be an asset to our lives not a distraction from them. For some of us, relearning how to be present with our friends, our children, or our spouse may seem like a daunting task. Perhaps a fear of true intimacy or a feeling of guilt keeps us from taking the necessary steps toward connecting with the actual people we live and work around.

“Our connectivity should be an asset to our lives not a distraction from them.”

One last note about connectivity. Some of you may have read this and thought, “I really don’t have this problem. I don’t even have the internet.” If that’s you, I would encourage you to think about some of the other things in your life that your are “connected” to that distract you from important relationships. It could be a job, a hobby, a habit, or a tv show. Whatever that thing is, don’t let it be a source of regret for keeping you from things that really matter. Every now and then take that NEEDED time away.

“We cannot live only for ourselves.”
– Herman Melville

Brandon is the founder of A Life to Lead. He is also the husband of Beth, father to Ethan and Kate, and the coordinator of the D6 Conference.

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