I have remained a tech geek and took 6 months off Twitter
Sorry for the teaser image, but this post has nothing to do with Star Wars
In late February, a friend challenged me to give up social media for the rest of the semester. Because “You seem to spend a lot of time on Twitter” he said. Well, being a GenX-er means you can’t tell me what I can and cannot do, don’t put me in a box and don’t you dare tell me I’m addicted to something as stupid as Twitter. I come from a long line of people with addictive tendencies, so there is an acute awareness. Challenge accepted. What started as 3 months turned into 6 months because I was on a roll getting stuff done and just to make a point (see above).
The first thing to note is ‘6 months off’ of social media doesn’t mean 6 months in a hole. I watched the news, read blogs and kept up in other social manners. Specifically, what I gave up was Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat. You may thought I gave up writing this blog, but that’s isn’t true, I was simply busy with other endeavors. I didn’t plug my ears and run out of the room screaming if someone brought up a snapchat video, I’m not a lunatic. I also didn’t morph this challenge into a guilt trip on others. “Oh, did I tell you I’m giving up social media, you should do it, It’s purifying to the soul, don’t you want to have a pure soul?” This fast challenge was MY thing, not anyone else. As most fasts/diets go the first few weeks are difficult; FOMO and straight-up withdraw symptoms are prevalent while you find a new normal. I began writing tweets on my window whiteboard at my office. That eventually slowed down and after about two months I erased the board (after I took a picture of course). I also started the 1-second-a-day video thing. Which actually makes you more aware of what’s going on around you.
Once the withdraw and instinct to see what was on Twitter about this or that subsided, I did notice a kind of freedom. When I was with my children, nephews and nieces I looked at the funny videos of them on their Snapchat face to face (the only reason I signed up was to keep up with their lives), but then they would comment on how many people watched their story but didn’t ‘like’ it. Only reminding me of why I hate social media in the first place. Honestly, I really didn’t miss Instagram at all. Not that I didn’t the miss people, I live in Illinois and the exodus is here, there are many friends to miss. What I did not miss is the constant barrage of sponsored posts and fake lives of people I don’t care about.
I kept up with my normal podcasts and even added a few. In one of those, Joe Rogan talked about a ‘digital diet’. As in an eating diet but consuming good, healthy information and junk information. That makes sense and lines up with my personal Faith beliefs (..out of the heart a mouth speaks etc..) but sometimes you need it laid out very bluntly. So, in getting back on to Twitter and Instagram (not Snapchat) this past week, I have found unexpected enjoyment and odd satisfaction in Unfollowing LOTS of people. I mean, it’s obvious why I follow Weird Al but why Russel Crowe and Tesla? And the most rudimentary way to limit intake is to use the technology on myself and set a time limit. I know I’m not 12 and can easily get around it but maybe that simple nudge will help me maintain a proper diet of junk food, er… information.
I did use my time to start something new. I have always done mapping on the side for friends and family, those projects always felt the best. As I near my 20 year mark as a GIS Professional, that philanthropic pulse has only increased. Well, last March and April I spent a bit of cash and lots of time starting what I call “Rogue Mapping” The tagline is Non-Profit Mapping for Non-Profits. You may ask, “Why not just dedicate my time to Humanitarian Open Street Map or GIS Corps?” See comment about GenXers above. Besides, these projects that I see a need for are not on their Radar. These are friends of mine and friends of friends that know I do mapping and asked me for a favor. Incorporating and registering as a Non-Profit makes it a legitimate thing that is NOT a business as NOT to compete with any current (wonderful) employer. This is very much akin to asking a carpenter friend to help you put in windows over the weekend, but in a non-profit way. I’ve been paid in tacos, coffee and hearty handshakes.