The benefits of taking a break from social media

Written by Jim Walsh

For a month around Christmas time I took a break from social media. Although to be honest it was more a quiet slide away than a conscious break.

Outside working hours when emails largely dictate the use of my time, I am a daily user of online media rather than an always-on disciple.

Usually late in the evening I will check, and the websites of the main national newspapers to see what will be tomorrow’s headlines. Then it’s Flipboard to check what is news in the rest of the world.  Usually there is something worth sharing with colleagues in Walsh:PR.

Facebook is next to see what family and friends are up to. I will ‘like’ a few posts and occasionally I will post something, usually to draw attention to a blog like this.

Then I turn to Twitter to see what’s trending and what is engaging those I follow. Again it is more looking than engaging with retweets here and there.

Finally it is time for LinkedIn to see who has changed jobs or has skills endorsed.

In late December and early January that all stopped. Instead my holiday time and days afterwards were taken over with books and hard copy newspapers.

The books included ‘The Scrap’ by Gene Kerrigan and ‘1916 The Mornings After’ by Tim Pat Coogan, very complementary books in the 100th anniversary year of an event that proved to be a pivotal moment in Irish history. Then there was ‘Dub Sub Confidential’ by John Leonard, the Irish Sports Book of the Year about one man’s commitment to a team while being almost a permanent substitute goalkeeper, contrasted with his out-of-control personal life.  In contrast there were two novels “The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins and the follow-up to the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy,  “The Girl in the Spider’s Web’.  All highly recommended.

What I learned from this experiment was that there is a role for all forms of communications and each has a place in our lives. Without social media I missed the ‘virtual’ and always there companionship of family, friends and acquaintances. But reading books provided a fulfillment and level of learning that social media can never match.

The challenge for me is to try and balance both during 2016.

Maybe I will become a social media junkie by day and a book reader by night.

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