Every year at the end of the year I take a break from social media, or at least I have done so in recent years, since social media successfully transitioned from a nice-to-have to an always-on. Each year I seem to begin these breaks a little earlier, and each year I also take additional breaks here and there.
I began my 2019 year-end break today, November 14, after posting the latest Disquiet Junto project. The main, perhaps sole, consequence I linger on regarding being off social media is it means I forsake opportunities, venues, to promote the work of all the amazing musicians who participate in the Disquiet Junto communal music projects each week. I feel a responsibility there. But members of the Junto, not all but many, are on social media in my absence, so it’s not like the Junto suddenly goes underground.
Question is: what does a break from social media mean in 2019? For me it means I won’t be on Facebook until at least January 1, 2020, and maybe not until January 6, 2020, the first Monday of the new year. Sure I’ll miss my friends on Facebook, but the main urge to visit Facebook has more to do with groups dedicated to music, music technology, and art that interests me, as well as announcements about arts events. I think I can manage for a month and a half.
As for Twitter, the return date would be the same as Facebook, but I may take a peek once in awhile, simply because there are a handful of feeds on Twitter that are, in essence, broadcast channels I can’t find anywhere else. I’ll read, but I won’t post. (These services don’t seem to support automated out-of-office replies in their direct-messages, and I do worry about leaving people hanging unintentionally.)
Which leaves Instagram, which in relative terms is functionally more about consumption than conversing (a contrast I was discussing with a friend today over lunch), but was considered social media even before Facebook absorbed it, so it gets included. I may continue to post the “cover” images from the weekly Disquiet Junto projects on Instagram, but I won’t be posting doorbells or anything else.
Anyhow, that’s my social-media break, my entry into the digital quiet. I won’t be offline, not by a long shot. I’ll keep posting here (it’s just a month until December 13, which will mark the 23rd anniversary of Disquiet.com), and I’ll check in on various online communities where I participate. Where those communities end and social media begins is something I think about a lot. Not being on social media means I’ll have more time to think about it.
There’s something distinctly calming about turning off those proverbial social-media lights. Just in the few hours since I pinned an announcement to Twitter and noted my silence on Facebook, my world feels like it has grown cozier, slower, more reflective, all good things in my book.