Do You Need A Social Media Fast?

Social Media Fast. Caleb Storkey

During the Christmas break, in between the roasties and all the trimmings, I decided to fast.

Have a social media fast.

It felt great.

Why? Because I’ve decided to focus on the face to face social dynamic (aka talking), and nothing quite beats it. Yes, I can argue all the benefits of social media- the people you meet through it, the knowledge you learn, the experiences you have. But it’s kind of truly more than a little second best to actually having a beer, a chat and a laugh with someone. ‘Here’s to your dreams.’

I get to see their body language, experience them smile, and hear them share in a deeper way. As we’re sharing in our face to face world, we’re both fully listening to each other. We turn our phones off, look each other in the eye, and choose to settle down for a great heart to heart and remind ourselves why we’re friends in the first case. We’re not multi-tasking or multi-wasting, trying to put our attention on a few things, and doing most of them badly. We’re giving each other our non verbal cues, our raised eye-brows, our tapping of the feet and excited exclaimed ‘banging of the tables.’ It’s alive, it’s noisy, it’s time consuming, it’s beautiful, it’s inefficient and it’s glorious.

Which leaves me wondering- how social is social media?

Doesn’t the word media give it a way a little? Businesses know it’s not all that social- I mean you don’t build community by liking a few posts. Retweeting has it’s place, but my connections deepen when they’re face to face. I prefer a sweaty high five or a heartfelt bear hug to a retweet any day. I prefer sharing heart to sharing pictures and listening to someone’s story more than reading someone’s self promotion.

And though I live so much of my life through a social media lens. It’s been soothing to pause.


Without social media, my life has been a lot more social. It’s been lovely to have less noise around me. I don’t check my phone before I go to bed. I don’t feel the need to incessantly make sure I’m up to speed with the latest news, and I get so much more done that is significant. Sure I may connect with less people, but the ones I do connect with, I’m able to give my all to. Quality not quantity eh!

Recently, (and I only wish I could have caught the moment on camera), I saw what is so common to us all the time. Two young neighbours were coming out of their houses, walking slowly down the path at the same time, both turning left onto their road. Their heads were bowed in reverent silence whilst they checked their phones. They didn’t see each other, they didn’t hear the children laughing by the bus stop, they didn’t even look where they were going. They’d done the walk 1,000 times, no doubt having mastered how to do it whilst checking messages. Of course they were multi-tasking, but I’m telling you now my Iona would have out-walked these two. They walked slowly, almost trance like.

‘Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours. With a little understanding. You can find the perfect friend.’

Then again. The moment made me think how alien it looked- how weird and bizarre our normal had become. They didn’t take each other in. They just walked in the world that was personalised and found through their screens; disconnected from all around them. I could have been doing belly flops into wet concrete off a double decker bus in the middle of the street and they wouldn’t have noticed. Aliens wouldn’t understand it. (Mind you, they probably wouldn’t get why I’d be doing belly flops into concrete either, but that’s beside the point).

So as a result of my fast, I’m making a few changes. I’m looking up more. I’m cutting back on my addiction to news. I will not change the BBC app 10 times a day anymore. I’m getting rid of my alerts that lures me to have my fix of messages. I’m taking command of how and when I engage with social media. I will not be addicted or owned by it. I will not check my phone mid conversation with others as I have fallen back into the habit of doing.

When I walk, I’ll have eyes to smile at people again. I’ll have facial muscles to use as they were meant to be used. And when I’m down the pub, instead of feeling the need to capture the moment on camera (with a cheeky glance at Whatsapp), I’ll capture the moment in my heart.

And replay it.
And relive it.
And enjoy it.
The first time around.

In my little discovery, I’ve a sneaky little feeling that if we lose the art of relating wholeheartedly to those around us, we’ll never really discover what it means to engage in online social communication. We’ll just engage in online selfish communication.

Do you fancy a social media fast? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Don’t just read and consume….get social with me….

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6 thoughts on “Do You Need A Social Media Fast?

  1. Caleb, it’s good to read that you have broken your social media fast, I was wondering where you had gone. I have to agree with everything you wrote in this post, I too have been suffering from Social Media Burnout, so much so that I suspended my Empire Avenue account.

    It is wonderful not to be a slave to the computer or blackberry any longer. I still keep active on some of the other Social Media sites, but like you, in moderation. I have got my “real” life back.

    I will keep watching for future posts, moderate or whatever.

  2. A very good read. Thanks for sharing. My clientele is part of the generation that still believes in doing business face-to-face and although I appreciate social media I really resonate with your post about getting back to face-to-face conversations and looking people in the eye.

  3. I spent 1 week without social media. First couple of days it was horrible. Every time i took my phone in my hand, my fingers would automatically move towards the Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp apps. So I had to move them to the last page of the phone screen. I had a very bad habit to check all this apps every 1 hour, every single day. Every time I read something very interesting, I desperately wanted to post it somewhere. Honestly, I would never thought that it would be a very hard experiment. However, after spending 7 days without social media, I started spending more time with my friends (without checking my phone at all), paying attention to what they are saying and talking about. Became less aggressive, I would even say, way too calm. Started doing those things, for which I always had an excuse (like Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram). Lastly, I understood that all the crap I posted on social media, was not really a loss, but a great advantage. Now, I can definitely say that I am not social media addict anymore.