Social Media Holiday?

So my sister flew off to China the other week. We’re not really sure if/when she’ll be back as she hopes to stay a couple years and lots can happen in that time! (I’m thinking rich Chinese husbands here…)

China’s a beautiful country: I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times and it’s a truly amazing place so I can totally see the attraction. But China is also a bit of a black hole in terms of the internet and social media: No Facebook; no YouTube; no Wikipedia; sometimes access to blogs and Twitter, depending on the mood of the powers that be… To me, that makes it heaven on earth and hell on earth all at the same time! On one hand a beautiful, developing country steeped with a rich and fascinating history; and on the other hand lots of stuff I love banned

So my sister’s relocation had already got me thinking, but then I caught up with a friend last week too, and he got me thinking about it even more! He has just returned back from a self-imposed three month social media break. I was surprised – he seems to have survived unscathed (though it’s plausible he’s covering some deeper wounds…!) and all the better for it! So with my sister, my friend, China, and lots of recent talk on Twitter about social media stalking, I can’t help but wonder whether we shouldn’t all take a break from time to time. Take a chance to re-connect with the people and world around us! And  maybe it shouldn’t just be a social media holiday either – maybe it should be a break from technology in general. Smart phones, netbooks and laptops make everyone overly accessible these days. When do we really and truly turn off? I imagine some people do… People with more self-discipline than me… Maybe people with more money to burn or more commitments to keep… 

But I have no wish to stop my social media activity altogether. A lot of people don’t understand it (Mr J included) but it adds another dimension to my professional/personal development, my work life and my social life. When I started out it was more about networking, but as I’ve come to meet more and more people, and learn more and more new things, it’s benefitted me a lot on a work level too. We’ve had job opportunities, the chance to market ourselves more (for free, I might add!) plus I’ve learned so much about business, marketing, recruitment, and so on, and (I think) I’m able to bring a lot more to the table professionally as a result.

Though I personally think there’s a big future in social media, I know it’s not for everyone – the lines between my work life and personal life have never been so blurred as they are now. It’s a grey area made up of many different shades. And not just because of the relationships I’ve forged but also through the 24/7 access that it engenders: Be it helping a client with something on Twitter at 7am; emailing a student on the weekend; or responding to an amusing comment from a contact during work hours. Social media is such a blend of work and personal that I don’t really switch off from anything at all any more, but I’m kinda OK with that.

But social media is an integral part of my life and turning off from it would be difficult. Mr J and I naturally plan to holiday in China at some point during my sister’s stay, but it won’t just be a tourist holiday for me; it’ll be a social media holiday too! But maybe it’ll do me good. Maybe I need one. In fact, maybe we all do from time to time…


10 Responses to “Social Media Holiday?”

  1. 1 weston007 March 8, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I never realised China had those limitations!! I think the lack of pressure to reply and respond at times to Twitter and the like would be heavenly, but at the same time, not being able to have a quick catch up, reply to an email etc would be a pain…possibly. I can remember a time when I never even had a mobile phone!!! A lovely blog Mrs J….!

    • 2 Wendy March 10, 2010 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks Paul! (And happy birthday again!) Yep, the rules in China are ever changing, but they’re pretty tight. Even my sister, who is hardly a social media addict, is missing Facebook – it’s just such an easy, central way to share things. As you say, 24/7 access is a mixed blessing, but ultimately it’s our own decision how we use it, I suppose! 🙂

  2. 3 Brian Meeks March 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    For a period of 3 years I made my living building spaces in the virtual world of Second Life. It was a life, completely immersed in social media. I tweeted, I facebooked, I Linkedin and that was just the non-virtual world stuff. It truly was 24/7. I had clients in Seattle and London, while I lived in DC. My workers lived all over the world. It was fantastic.

    When I decided to move back to Iowa, to be closer to family, I took a several month break. Did little more than occasionally check email. I didn’t miss it as much as I might have guessed. I guess as long as I am being social, virtually or live and in person, I am going to be happy.

    So take a break or don’t, I am sure you will be happy either way.


    p.s. A Rich Chinese Husband? Isn’t the point of Communism that everyone is poor but equal?

    • 4 Wendy March 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      Oh yeah right – of course! Poor and equal… Well I suppose she could get one of those husbands too, but frankly I can’t imagine her out in the sticks, raising kids and farming. She’d miss her hair straighteners waaay too much! 😉

      I think you’re totally right about it being easier than you’d think to leave social media and the 24/7 lifestyle alone. Over Christmas I hardly touched the net (apart from the odd mobile tweet, email and to publish a pre-written blog post). I didn’t really miss it and I actually found it quite hard to get back into it afterwards.

      Thanks for your comments!


  3. 5 Michelle Fischer March 9, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Thanks for this post Wendy. It’s a really good observation of the fact that Social Media is blurring the boundaries but adding something extra to our lives both in and out of work. I agree that the double edged sword deserves a place and like you am yet to find the balance that works best for me, or my other half… I guess it’s trial and error.

    • 6 Wendy March 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      You’re right Michelle – it’s about finding what works for you. The work/life balance is different for everyone depending on your commitments, priorities, relationships and so on. But making it work is certainly trial and error! 🙂

  4. 7 James Mayes March 9, 2010 at 9:13 am

    It’s not that different to the original launch of blackberries… the biggest lesson people had to learn was not how to use the handset, but how to manage their use of the handset – don’t let work emails put a downer on a day out with kids, make sure it’s silent or off when you’re asleep so you’re not woken by beeps all night.

    Social media may well be a more complex beast, but some of those core lessons around blackberry management apply here too!

    • 8 Wendy March 10, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      That’s a very good point about the launch of BlackBerries. I think social media just makes it more difficult because it never seems to stop – there’s always someone online somewhere! Whereas at least with business emails they’re generally a little more 7am – 8pm! But regardless – it is about learning to manage your use of it.

  5. 9 Tracey Dunn March 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Great post Wendy – i tend to find my social media activity waxes and wanes with my workload and have actually started only opening twitter first thing in the mroning; at luch and then late pm – otherwise I get too distracted!! Its like trying to read a book in a cafe but then being drawn into eavesdropping on other peoples conversations!!

    • 10 Wendy March 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      Funny you should say that Tracey because I’m trying to do the same at the moment! It’s too easy to dip in if you see something relevant or interesting. And when work is busy I don’t even have time to keep up with my RSS feeds so I find I don’t have so much to say other than silly, self-indulgent personal things anyway!

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