The experience both reinforced and taught me a few things…
1) The social media world over-produces at lightning speed.
Not checking in on a daily basis left posts to pile up in my reader; thousands of tweets unseen; and memes, debacles and news about Kenneth Cole went by without my knowledge. On one hand, I want to soak up as much of this missed information as possible so that I can remain “in the know.” But, the reality is that most of last week’s social media news is now “old” and as much as I’d like to think I can catch up, the reality is that things will keep moving, and in order to stay afloat, I’ll move on, leaving most of it “unread.”
2. The “real world” moves pretty darn fast, too.
I was more than half way through my vacation before realizing that much of the country was suffering power outages, canceled flights, deathly car accidents and more from winter storms. And, internationally, news and events continued to unfold during the protests in Egypt. It was a poignant reminder that not only was I missing social media news, I was missing world news. And, I am very accustomed to getting this news from my social networks.
3. Going off the grid was much more difficult than I thought it’d be.
I had hoped that spotty (and potentially expensive) internet access would help keep me offline and present with my husband and traveling companions and soak up the sun. But…it didn’t take long before we had a WiFi password at the resort and I was logging on to clean out my inbox or to use email and Facebook to check in with the kids. Then, travel companions were bringing their iPads to the pool and I was longing for mine. Walking by (or stopping into) a cantina with free WiFi meant I could check in on Foursquare and maybe even post a random tweet from Mexico and my high was back. Longing? High? Seriously? Made me realize that I really have been a smartphone douchebag. And, while I faltered here and there (and, several of you called me on it) I think I did a pretty good job of staying away. And that brings me to my next lesson…
4. I really do miss you people!
While it makes little sense to the friends and family who don’t play in this space, the truth is, I’m connected to my social media network daily and when we’re separated, I miss you. Yeah, you. You with the coffee every morning. You who shares the best blog posts. You who makes me laugh. You with the links to breaking news. You with the song that will now be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. You who writes the posts that make my brain explode. There. I said it. I admit to missing you all. And, I think that’s ok.
5. Nothing. And I mean NOTHING compares to the relationships we have in real life.
I’m glad I went off the grid (or, 90% off, as it were). By placing that focus in real life, where it belonged, I was closer to the friends and family with whom I was vacationing, I conversed with others I’d never met, and my brain slowed down enough to truly relax and smell the roses (or, see the whales, sea lions and seals, which was amazing). As such, my relationship with all of these people (including myself) is stronger than it was a week ago. And, the biggest one? Coming home to my two kids. No one matters more than that. Before anything, I’m mom. And, that’s why I didn’t go back on the grid last night to write this post. You’ll get it during business hours.
Tell me…what have you learned when going off the grid?