We’re a connected society. Ellen DeGeneres’s record-breaking 2014 Oscars Twitter selfie is just one proof. We text, tweet, pin and post our way through our days. We browse, troll and read too. It keeps us in touch and informed. We can be supportive and get support. But there comes a time when social media usage can do more harm than good. And that’s when we are on a break or vacation, in particular, Spring Break.
Here are two reasons why you may want to unplug from online connectivity for that week (which you are probably planning for right now):
– Comparison kills contentment. It doesn’t matter if you’re off on that much-awaited trip to your favorite destination. If you glimpse FaceBook posts from a friend’s getaway that is just as nice or nicer than yours, you may experience a let-down. Even more so if your break is a humdrum one to begin with or your plans have gone awry. In fact, no matter what you plan to do during your time off, hopping on social media may bring you down. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that subjects felt a greater decline in at-the-moment mood and overall life satisfaction the more they checked in on FaceBook. Social comparison plays a big part in that decline. Whether you will be home or away, relaxing or jet-setting, cut your risk of succumbing to the comparison trap by avoiding the urge to network online.
– Playing for an audience is distracting. Admit it, it’s hard to focus on the task at hand if you’re constantly wondering how it will play on social media. Should I tweet a photo of this meal? Update my status from this museum? These thoughts, conscious or unconscious, about how we will appear to others based on how we are spending our vacation can pull us away from engaging fully where we are at. Tell yourself you can review photos and post updates from your time off after the fact. Giving yourself the freedom to disengage from the expectations of the invisible social media audience allows you to satisfy the people right in front of you, especially yourself.
It might be hard to do – staying off of your favorite sites for multiple days. But I think you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Give your whole family the best chance to thoroughly enjoy all that you have planned (or unplanned) for your vacation. By setting up that expectation now, you can make the most of your time in advance (including notifying followers that you will be checking out for a week). And you can plan for no-pressure break that doesn’t have to measure up or appeal to anyone but you and your family.
Does the idea of a week off from social media relieve you or scare you? Have you ever taken time off from your online networks? If so, how did that go? I hope you’ll stop and share your thoughts.