I am currently on my yearly vacation and one of the prerequisites of my vacation is that it has to be outside of the U.S. so it makes it harder for me to have access to my email, Smartphone, computer, etc. However, one of the hardest parts for me is the first few days of social media detox that happens. Usually I still have some sort of access to wifi or internet in some capacity but, not this time so I have had to truly detox on this vacation.
Detoxing from social media is much harder than it looks. You don’t realize how truly addicted and attached you are to checking your email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. every few hours, every hour, every few minutes, etc. I even had a huge moment of panic when my homestay mother told me she didn’t have wifi or internet at all and the closest internet for me is at the university or at the center I am doing my program through. Both of which are quite a walk away and not something I can instantly access. This has literally meant I cannot be constantly connected to all my channels 24/7.
This is part of the reason I take vacations such as this is to detox from all of these things but it is not easy. I almost feel like I have to stand up and say, “Hello, my name is Mandy, and I am addicted to social media!”. At the end of the two weeks of my vacation I know the fact that I can’t instantly text someone or check my Facebook page will no longer bother me and I will wonder why it is bothering me now but for now it is a weird feeling of panic that has settled in my stomach that I am missing out on something by not being connected. Do you ever get this feeling? How do you combat it? Do you ever have to completely disconnect for an extended period to be able to reconnect later on?
The reason I do this is two-fold. One reason is that I am doing this so I prevent burnout later on. If I am constantly on these channels and never give myself a break I will burnout and will not be able to come up with fresh ideas and concepts as well as will get frustrated with the platforms and wonder why I am on them in the first place. The second reason is I think that everyone needs to be able to remember what it is like to connect with people without social media and remember how to use every day social skills that can tend to be forgotten when you are constantly on social media channels. You also remember how to look straight ahead when walking too.
This detox is a necessity for me to be able to continue to do my job as well as stay connected as a person. I have been at the point where I don’t want to connect with people and I just can’t stand another minute of connecting with people and that was because I didn’t take the time away from connecting with my everyday group of people to connect with a new and different group of people on a different level which allows me to come back and be recharged and revitalized. I know this sounds a little confusing but it really does work. It is basically stepping back and doing something different to remember why you do what you do.
So I am stepping back from my constant (almost 24/7) social media use to remind myself why I use social media and to also remind myself that I can exist without social media. Basically I don’t exist because social media does, which is an extremely important lesson to learn.
Have you done a social media detox? What were your results? Please comment on what your detox was like below!
P.S. I am really missing my GPS capable Smartphone. I only got lost three times today so I guess that is a good day!!
A dear friend and I in Toronto, Canada
This may be a bit dramatic, but I am convinced I would not survive before the existence of Internet connections and online communication. Granted, this has to do with perspective; of course, I would not realize I was missing such an awesome tool for information and keeping in touch if it had not existed yet. All I know is I am thankful to be alive in this current age because I am not much of a snail-mail girl.
These thoughts came to me recently as I have been in the Dominican Republic for the past two and a half months. I found myself missing my friends and family back home when I realized I have nothing to complain about. With such easy access to social media due to the ever-increasing availability of Wi-Fi, I am frequently in contact with people from home. All I have to do is scroll through Facebook and I am immediately filled-in on people’s lives. Instagram, however, has been my preferred medium because it’s fantastic to just browse through photos without the clutter of lots of text and ads that Facebook can have. (It also makes me feel like a professional photographer with all the fancy filters.)
The benefit of using social media while abroad is a two-way street, however, because friends and family can keep up with me as well. Instead of calling or emailing parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends, all of these important people in my life (plus random acquaintances and the occasional stalker) are updated on my life in one fell swoop as I post photos and status updates.
One of the greatest ways social media has impacted my abroad experiences, however, is by giving me an ability to maintain friendships that began abroad. My Facebook friends consist of people I met on various trips, and I am so glad to be able to maintain those friendships today. I can honestly say if it weren’t for social media, I would never be able to communicate with so many people I met abroad. Although they were in my life for a brief period, we can maintain a relationship thanks to the upgrade from snail-mail.
All these advancements in social media communication, however, do come with a few drawbacks: it can be way more impersonal when I am not contacting to loved ones directly, so I make an effort to call or email those exceptionally special people (consider yourselves lucky ;)) Also, constantly being connected to people from home can distract from your abroad experience if you are not careful. Especially if you are only spending a semester abroad, it is important to take advantage of every minute in this new and exciting place. Home will be there when you get back, and I can bet you that not much will have changed in four months. I met too many people as an undergrad who I believe missed out on their experience abroad by being on Skype for hours at a time every day with people from home. Doing this, unfortunately, makes you miss home way too much and keeps you from making great connections with friends abroad.
I encourage those of you planning on going abroad to set a certain time of day or week for social media use, and catch up with friends and family during that time slot only, so you can take full advantage of exploring your surroundings!
How have you seen social media while traveling help or harm you?
Are there any apps or websites that are particularly helpful for communicating while abroad?
-Kimberly, Mandy's Mashups Intern
I apologize for my hiatus on this website but, as some of you may know, I started a new new as Director of International Education, in another state a few months ago. When I moved I was unable to get internet in my new apartment until now. It is sometimes surprising how much you rely on having an internet connection whenever you want it. I missed it so. :)
I am not back on-line and have a fast connection in my apartment so I will attempt to make up for lost time on my website. I will be announcing a new Webinar series soon so stay tuned on this website for more information.
The other thing I wanted to pass along is a new project I am going to work on. I would like to start reviewing social media related books on the website so that there will be a collection of great resources available for people.
With this being said, if you have written or know of any social media books that you would like to see reviewed please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will work on starting to review a book. I hope to have at least one new book up every month.
Happy New Year to everyone! Hope to talk to you in the new year!
This blog is all about social media. I hope to offer tips, tricks, advice and more on using social media within international education and international travel.