Disengaging From Social Media & Living In The Real World
By Scott Bourne
This year has been a year of goodbyes and lasts for me. I am retiring and doing many of the things I’ve done for decades for the last time.
One of the things I am doing as part of my retirement is disengaging from social media. Not right away, not completely but soon and significantly. And eventually, I don’t know when, I’ll be offline forever. I’ve decided to do this because there is no business case for me to spend time on social media now that I am retired. And because there’s no human case either.
I recognize that social media has contributed greatly to my business success. I appreciate the irony of that. And in a few, very rare, very isolated cases, helped me make a couple of really good friends. It has also helped me to help many of you. But it comes at a high cost. Like many of you, social media has caused me to feel like I have to be connected 24/7. That comes at the expense of any real social life. Additionally, social media and today’s anonymous Internet is full of cyber-bullies who are 10 feet tall as long as they are blogging from their mom’s basement. That ugly side of the Internet is – in my opinion, greatly responsible for much of what’s wrong with the world. And I am not just talking about the online world but the offline world too. It has desensitized us all. I have decided that – for me personally – the bad now outweighs the good. I want to stress that this is purely a personal decision. It’s one I make on my own and for me alone. It is not an opinion anyone else need share or consider. I am not advocating anyone else follow my decision. I am merely saying that for me, personally, it is time to move on.
I spent most of my life without an Internet and got along just fine. I actually interacted with people. I actually got to know them face-to-face. And surprisingly, we all got along just fine, made a living, had fun, etc.
The world seems far less civil now. And it has caused me to be less civil. I am sorry for that. And I am going to do something about it. I know I can’t stop the trolls from being trolls or the haters from hating but what I can absolutely do, is turn them off and tune them out. If I am not online and they are, anything and everything they do is of no consequence to me. I can’t control what they do, but I can control my reaction to it and my reaction will be simple. I’ll never see it. I’ll never know about it. So it takes all the fun out of it for them, and insulates me against their unhappy approach to life. I can work on ME. I can become more civil by only interacting with people in the real world. And I want to stay clear of the kind of person who walks off a pier while checking their Facebook status.
What matters to me in the sunset of my life is the relationships I have in the real world. I won’t be one of those guys out at dinner with a beautiful woman texting or checking my email. I won’t be the guy who listens to his voicemail at the movie theater. I won’t be constantly updating my Twitter, Facebook or Google+ status. All that will go on without me. I will not miss it. Not one bit.
Some of you are probably thinking – “no great loss.” I agree. My departure from the online world will have no real impact on anyone but me. And that’s just fine.
As I recall my life before Gopher, Usenet, Compuserve, Netscape, Flickr, Twitter, etc. I was a generally happy and successful person. I don’t believe that I will be any less so by returning to that life. I am going analog.
So the long and the short of it is this. You won’t see much if anything from me here on the Interwebs beginning very soon. Those of you who actually know me will call me on my phone. It still works. I’ll write real letters to people I miss. I’ll send cards and post cards to my pals reminding them I am still alive. The rest of you will find someone else to follow and enjoy.
For those of you who need to remain online – I understand and I am hopeful that you will enjoy the Internet. I’m hopeful that for you – the good will outweigh the bad. As for me? I’ll enjoy shaking hands, looking people in the eye when they talk to me and having a real life – life experience.
Up to now I have merely been informing you of my plans. But now, I will leave you with one bit of advice. It’s only relevant if you agree with me that the world is less civil now than it was 10 or 20 or 40 years ago. You can help change that. Never say anything online about someone that you wouldn’t be willing to say TO someone in the real world. Don’t talk about people – talk TO people. Your life will be better for it. Everyone’s life will be better for it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go watch a sunset. I won’t be live-Tweeting it, or posting it to Instagram or Facebook. I WILL however enjoy the feel of the glow of the sun’s last rays on my face, the color in the sky above, the sounds of dusk approaching and the connection to a real place in a real time at a real event that doesn’t involve a single pixel.
I wish all of you the very best and thank you for your support over the years. I even want to thank the trolls who unwittingly helped me grow my audience and make more money. There’s no hard feelings on my part. I’m moving on with a smile on my face.
Take care and so long.