Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.

creativity

Fasting

I won’t be using Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn from February 17 through April 3. I’m giving up social networking for Lent.

Amy took on this challenge on in the fall and it’s stuck in my mind. It’ll be hard for me, and will pose both personal and professional challenges.

I expect that people who don’t much use these networks will roll their eyes and think that if I’m that obsessed with some silly website, it’s about time I took a break, but it’s not particularly impressive and it’s an exaggeration to call it a fast. Conversely, I expect that people who use these networks as natural parts of their lives will be both aghast that I’m taking myself back to such a Luddite state, and convinced that it’ll hurt much more than it helps. Basically, I think most people will think I’m crazy, one way or another.

But like most things that are good for you, I think it’ll have a variety of benefits.

First and most obviously, I’m doing it for religious purposes. The point of a Lenten fast is to deny yourself a normal part of your life, partly to offer up that discomfort, but also because discipline is freeing. When you don’t “have” to have something, you’re open to that much more of life, of love, and of God.

(The side benefit, from a religious point of view, is that I’m not very comfortable talking about my faith, and it’s something I want to be better at. So, a fast that’s public-facing forces me to do that, at least a little.)

Second, it’ll be interesting to see how this alters my professional and personal interactions. I know it will, but I want to see how and how much, and how I can work around it.

And third, I believe that it’s the last time I can do something like this. With the introduction in the last few days of Google Buzz, social networking is now firmly intertwined with email – and therefore, with the crux of online life. Buzz updates are right in my Gmail box. (And the lack of that was what was wrong with both Friendfeed and Google Wave, but that’s another post.) By 2012, “social networking” won’t even be used anymore – because it’ll have succeeded. These networks (maybe these exact ones, maybe not) won’t stand alone at all. They will be networked – fully – into your email, your phone, your whole life. So, while I can still separate them out, I want to try it.

In the meantime, I’m reachable by all other means, in person (!) as well as by phone, text and email, and I’ll be blogging. So tell me what you think!

Comments

PR Cog

Hey Sarah –

Just catching up to this now (of course as the fast ends), oddly enough on a site that runs stats on those you’re following to see who’s been active and your name appeared to be in the wrong section.

Congrats on keeping the faith (as it were). Will definitely be curious to hear how it all panned out, particularly professionally. Enjoy the remaining days and hope to catch you on your return,
“P”

Sarah Morgan

It’s important to realize the difficulty inherent in defining how something fits into life in general, by using how it fits into your own life in particular.

For instance, I call anything that I use my stovetop for “cooking”, but most of that would appall a real chef. Similarly, if social networking is your career focus, like Peter, then of course you couldn’t fit it into 15 minutes a day. But I’m sure Nate would be equally stumped if he tried to to only see patients 15 minutes a day.

Fortunately, my case is different from both. PR is my career, social media is a subset of that, and social networking is a subset of THAT. Therefore, work goes on – and you may already have noticed that blogging continues apace!

Nathan Bonilla-Warford

Peter,

I’m the person who is trying to squeeze SM into 15 minutes. I am an eye doctor, so while I do promote my practice via social media, it is never a priority. It is more of a hobby that benefits my practice, so I think 15 minutes is reasonable without detrimentally affecting my work performance.

Needless to say, my 15-minute goal is not going well. But it is a work in progress.

-Nate

Peter Shanman

One more quick point: If I get an automatic email reply from someone who says “I’m only checking my email twice a day, because Tim Ferris told me to,” then I simply find someone else to whom I can give my business to who will react quicker. Not a dis, but simply a cost of doing business.

Peter Shanman

First off, good for you for taking a challenge and sticking to it. I’m going dry for six months come April for Ironman training, so I can relate.

Guess the bigger question though, is, I’d be curious to know how this affects your professional career. I know you’re the blogger/twitter queen in your space – and well known as such – so I wonder what kind of effect this will have.

To the person who is trying to condense all your social media work into 15 minutes, that’s fine if you’re not using it as part of your daily work – i.e., to me, it’s not “social media,” it’s part of “marketing, pr, customer service, and even competitive intelligence” – Can you really do all that in 15 minutes? Doesn’t that limit you as a business person? Again, if you’re in an industry in which this matters.

Either way – Good luck to you, Sarah.

Paul C

A sign of the times that one option for fasting is social media. I am reminded of Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week. His answer to overexposure is restricting access to Web 2.0 at a focused twice a day rather than the frenetic pace many choose. Interesting post.

Christine

That’s a great idea! Good luck! I’m totally a Facebook addict so that would be a challenge indeed.

Daisy Lindo

I think that is such an interesting thing to give up. Good luck! I am looking forward to hearing about it.

Sarah Morgan

Thanks Miguel! I will be needing it 🙂

Miguel

Wow! That’s a hell of a challenge. Good luck, Sarah.

Sarah Morgan

Robin, neither can I – but that’s part of it. I still run up against issues, and so part of the project is to really clarify the usefulness of these tools.

Robin F

Sounds like an interesting challenge. Kudos to you. I can’t wait to read about how it goes — and whether it effects your ability to do your job. I can’t imagine doing my job without Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD

Ah, I was thinking more along the lines of “social media” not “social networking”

Thanks for the StayFocused tip, I’ll check it out.

Amy

Kudos for taking a break. I often find myself wishing I would do it again, even for a few days.

PS Not a fan of Buzz yet 🙁

Sarah Morgan

Nate, I’m defining social networking as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn because those are the ones I use most. YMMV. I didn’t include email or blogs because I don’t see them as networks. (And, yes, practically speaking, that’s not really doable anyway.)

Check out the StayFocused extension for Chrome – I think it might help you. And good luck to you too!

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD

Not trying to be snarky here, but how are you defining social networking for Lent? Simply Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn for this purpose? Or others as well?

The reason I ask is, I am trying a similar experiment starting tomorrow, but for practical, not religious reasons. I want to see if I can squeeze social media into 15 minutes a day. Specifically 15 minutes before the kids get up and none with my wife or at work. This will be incredibly hard.

But I had to define for myself what counts as social media. Like you, I choose not to count email list serves, which I personally consider social, media, and networking. I also have decided not to include blogs, because, well, I don’t know how I’d get any industry news if I had to exclude anything blog-like.

Anyway, you point about Buzz and this being the last time is well taken and I do think exercises like this are going for the mind and soul.

Good luck! Tweet us all about it after Easter!

-Nate

Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *