People or Screens
Every morning for almost a year, I’ve been publishing photos of the sunrise over Lake Michigan. Sometimes when the afternoon is worth a photo graph I also publish a photo of the sunset too. On Twitter I greet my friends with a “Good morning, Twitterville” and a kind word. I try to check in with them via Facebook and Linkedin too.
Many of my online social interactions help me keep my day moving … as I transition from one task to another, it helps me to stop by Twitter to give my friends a shout out or to take time for a short read and a retweet. Being social online is a natural part of how my day goes by when it’s just me and the keys.
But when I’m with people, I like to be with people.
I find it hard to be where I am, if I’m looking at at screen.
What I Learned, Lost, and Earned Being Off Social Media for 10 Days
The theme of #SOBCon this year was Creating and Leveraging Opportunity. I challenged myself to do what I believed.
- Be balanced. In this case, have my head and heart in the same place as my mind and my feet.
- Go deep. Be a saturation learner. Meet people where they “live and think.”
- Build a business not a birthday cake. Allow for the fact that a business is not a closed system — that flexibility is a key component to strategy.
- People ARE the opportunity. Buildings, companies, products, technology do not have the stability or the reach of human-to-human relationships.
Last Wed., May 2, I left home with a suitcase to head downtown in preparation for our annual #SOBCon event in Chicago from there I would be speaking at CMSExpo in Evanston to arrive back home on May 10th. But things being what they are it ended up that I was hardly around on social sites until the 12th.
Before I left, I loaded up my blog with the blog posts that I had planned for the week. I also loaded up my Twitter account with some great posts I’d been reading on other blogs — articles on small business, strategy, weird science, and cool brain stuff — my favorite information to share via tweets.
When I got down to the hotel, I did some last minute planning. I went over to the event center to check a few things and pick an HP Folio Ultrabook that the Small Biz Folks at Hewlett Packard had sent for me, thinking maybe if I set it up, I’d be able to Tweet some, or post some, or connect some like a good social media do-bee. I got the computer up and rolling in no time. It’s light, intuitive, and has a huge battery life — can’t say how long it lasts yet, because, well, once I got it going, I kept turning it on and then getting involved in other things.
And in the course of 10 days, here’s what I about social media, the Internet, and me.
- The social is more important than the media. When the choice comes to talking to the people live and in person, take it! Be where you are. Look them in the eyes. Listen actively. What I saw and experienced in the richness of a hug, a tone of voice, smiles shared, and glasses clinked is something I carry back to the Internet. I hear the voices of those same people when I see them again this week on Twitter.
- Being in the story is faster, easier, and more meaningful than reporting it. I can only speak for my experience, but seconds I spend trying to share something with people online turn me into a reporter. When I shed the reporter’s role, I see, hear, and feel so much more. I am mindful and present. I am also calmer, more flexible, and more fluent because I can attend to and respond to the world I’m in rather than trying to translate to the world I can’t see.
- The Internet got along fine without me. As far as I know, no one suffered greatly by my absence. The world didn’t stop turning. I had no more than 3 “must respond to” emails daily – I’m just not THAT important.
What I lost is easy to measure …
Yes, my blog traffic went down a bit. I didn’t attract as many Twitter followers as I had in the previous 10 days. My stock price on Empire Avenue dropped. My stats on Facebook now need some attention. My email inbox took about two hours to get back in order.
What I earned was more lasting …
Deep real connections.
Deep real memories.
A whole lot of learning and fun.
The actual business directly attributable to these particular 10 days outpace ANY 10 days ever.
Working or playing, showing up is most important.
How can they see you, if you don’t stop long enough to be you?
—ME “Liz” Strauss