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.

11 thoughts on “Disengaging From Social Media & Living In The Real World

  1. As a forty year old who just disabled his Facebook account last week, I fully respect your decision Scott.

    In all honesty I only came to your site tonight for the first time after browsing the Photofocus site and remembering all of your great and informative podcasts – your presence on Photofocus is now reduced to being documented as the founder and that’s fine as I’m sure it’s in good hands.

    Social media can be a destructive and bewildering thing, but we humans have made it so. The Internet at large, though, enabled me to hear your voice and wisdom.. Enabled me, no more than a photographic beginner, to hear from someone who made a living from their passion and gave me inspiration.

    Be quite aware of the fact that the Internet enabled your warm tones to travel instantaneously from the USA to me, sitting on a bus in Scotland on my way to work. You and your guests kept me company over many miles and I want to thank you for that.

    I’d like to think I’ll find another presenter as engaging as you but I sincerely doubt it. Enjoy your retirement in the real world and thanks again for all those fantastic podcasts.

    • Well said Andrew. Scott’s contributions cannot be overlooked or denied. They have been immense. Oh .. and if you look, you’ll find someone to, not necessarily ‘fill-the-shoes’ Scott leaves behind … but you’ll find a new pair of shoes that will help you continue growing in YOUR walk. Like all shoes, the new ones take getting used to. But before long, they’ll feel just like you’ve walked in them all your life. The cool thing is … when you think about it.. they also help you keep in touch with those ‘older shoes’ that taught you how to walk in the first place. Good walkin’… :)

  2. Reblogged this on Techguys blog and commented:
    I have only been following Scott for over a year and I completely agree with his thoughts and comments with this blog. Its amazing how social media makes you stay connected 24/7 and there really is no “downtime” or way to tune it out. However, the population has made it this monster. Social media is good for some things, and it definitely bad for other things, take for example the trolls and the haters. The internet has gotten worse and will only continue to do so.

    I want to share this blog with everyone because, like i mentioned above, Scott hits the nail on the head.

  3. Thank you Scott for great podcasts I learned something from them as I am trying to better myself and my photography work. I hope you enjoy your sunset and get to really live life and not have to worry about the internet and social media. Congratulations and enjoy retirement!

  4. Scott, thank you for sharing your final thoughts before signing off. Social media was one of the lectures you gave at PSW 2013. It opened my eyes to how powerful this tool is. Everyone now is connected world-wide and observing people’s p’s & q’s online has been humorous, embarrassing, and insightful.

    But nothing beats human interaction and I know how important that is for many of us who understand when to shut the phone off, stop texting, and in general being online. It’s an experience that unfortunately many people can’t let go of.

    Go out in a blaze of glory and enjoy what physically surrounds you Scott. I’m certain it’s long overdue!

    Big hugs.. Aimee

  5. Right On Scott!
    I applaud your disconnection and have also found peace off of the social media treadmill. May you enjoy all that life has to offer one moment at a time.

  6. Hi, Scott it was nice following you and thanks so much for taking the time to look at my photos. I too decided to retire early . I was the Airline pilot from Toronto flying for Jazz . Now I’ll enjoy Las Vegas and go around to the different places taken photos.
    Take care James May

  7. In all my years on the internet that has to be the most honest and beautifully true to oneself statement I have ever seen made. Each point really rung true with me and ironically I’m sat reading this post not knowing anything about you and stumbling on your site for the very first time today! I instinctively know that the photography world will be missing a great asset and a genuinely honest man more importantly.

    Enjoy your retirement and all those rich, vibrant and vivid sunrises and sunsets that have yet to come.

    All the best,


  8. There is one good thing about a web presence, Mr. Bourne. It allows an anonymous schmo whom you do not know from Adam to say the following:

    Thanks. Thanks for sharing your life online. I enjoyed your podcasts. I enjoyed your writing. I appreciate the effort you put into everything you did.

    I just wanted to say that. Your life online had meaning, and you will be missed.

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