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tech detox

How to Take a Social Media Hiatus

How to Take a Social Media Hiatus


So you need a Sabbatical. Excellent! A lot of people don't realise how common taking an internet detox really is, nor do they think about the potential benefits one can gain from taking a break. These benefits are highly individualistic, but can include more productivity, lower mobile/internet bills, more leisure time, new hobbies and even simply a cleaner attitude to the social web upon your return.

Know Your Reasons

First up, consider why you want this and if you can do a hiatus. Do you have an upcoming career or personal milestone that requires your full attention?

Share your reasons with contacts if you wish to communicate your absence, which is highly recommended. Not only will you avoid embarrassment upon your return after contacts' messages have gone unanswered, but your friends won't be surprised when you party invitations via (gasp!) telephone call instead of Facebook.

Note: I don't recommend using a hiatus purely to avoid someone or something online. Seek help if you feel the reasons for a tech detox are 100% avoidance-based, especially if it is someone intently making your use of social media less enjoyable. You deserve the best!

Plan Carefully

What are the rules?

Think about how strict you want to be with yourself and for how long. I stayed well away from the websites even when logged out for the entire two months I was on hiatus, but you might need public-facing information from the websites every couple of days. Set your own rules and stick to them.

Which accounts?

Back in 2011, I chose Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. I would probably do the same this time, as well as Google+ and Pinterest. Would I include Pocket, Flipboard or other bookmarking accounts? Actually, I'm not sure, because I often use Pocket for research for work. If you manage social media accounts at work, factor this into the equation as well as if you need your existing accounts. You will be able to decide what you can and cannot keep during the hiatus, but whatever you choose, stick to your guns.

Will you have a caretaker?

Consider handing your passwords over to a close friend or family member, and allow them to change the passwords of your accounts. Clearly this is a high-risk idea, but provided you choose someone who a) knows their way around the social media websites, b) has NO chance of forgetting the reset passwords, and c) has NO chance of refusing to return your accounts to you after the agreed date. It's best they promise not to use your accounts during this time as well.

Securely send your caretaker a list of your accounts' login details and confirm the date and time of changeover with them.

Do you have everything you need from the accounts?

Grab all important contacts' email addresses and/or phone numbers if you expect to need them during your hiatus. The same goes for any photos you cannot access while logged out.

All Set? Go!

Organise for final messages, swapping of contact details and anything else you need to do. Then log off about 15 minutes before your caretaker is due to change the passwords, uninstall any apps you don't need and go make a cup of tea.

"Ack! This is harder than I thought!"

Don't panic when you're unable to Tweet what you next think is hilarious or thought-provoking. Write it all out in a diary or call a friend if you need, otherwise distractions might just be all you need for the first few days.

Get Out

When I did my hiatus, I lived with three film students, so my days outside of the lecture halls were spent quite well on the cheap. I don't recall going out any more than usual, but I know I wanted to. Now could be the time to change habits or start new hobbies you've wanted to try. Make a list of places/activities you'd like to see/do and get to it!

Maintain Records

Anyone who has worked with me knows I'm big on learning from experience. You'll get more out of your hiatus if you are able to recount how it affected you and your routine. Will you do anything differently online if you choose to return to the same communities? Maybe you'll cut contacts or entire accounts, or maybe simply change your access habits.

Keep a diary (or a blog if you're allowing yourself that) and watch for any changes in cognitive processes or behaviour that you might put down to the lack of social media use.


You did it! Welcome back! Grab your passwords from your caretaker and shout out to your contacts again.

The biggest plus-side of coming back after a break is fresh insight towards excess contacts and accounts. If you're looking at Facebook's junk and Pinterest's mindless recycling of cake-pops in a different way, now's the time to cull the noise - and don't worry about feeling guilty about this if you do.

Good luck! My two posts on my 2011 May-June hiatus are tagged tech detox should you like to read more about my experiences.

Social Media Hiatus: A Week In

So here we are! Just over a week into my holiday from a passion. Not too shabby at all! I'll admit it: the first night or two were horrible. On the Wednesday afternoon of The Great Quittage, I was stressed about a few other things and just wanted this to go right. Thursday morning I woke up and felt I were on holiday for the entire day. That evening I felt terribly lonely after having not conversed with anyone familiar for over 24 hours, and having had a brilliantly awesome, accomplished day in event project meetings, I wished to celebrate it somehow. Alas, I was home alone that night and instead, in my emotional state, took up smoking again (I was trying to quit for the third time since late last year), while hunched over a notepad and pen, disgusted at my handwriting and scrawny prose.

Since the first 24-48 hours I've not even really cared to go back, and only missed Twitter.

My passwords weren't changed until about a week after the fact; they probably didn't even need changing! The whole point of social media is that everyone pretty much knows what you're doing at any one moment, so I would only be shooting myself in the foot if I were to sign in anywhere. Also, that would be lame.

I've taken to writing again and I'm looking at redoing this entire website. It totally blows and I've wanted to change the theme for years. I'm in talks with a pair of geeks about the design in exchange for knitted goods.

I've not started reading any books, nor have I played any music, driven or hit the gym.

I'm not watching any increased amounts of television or film as I'd expected, and I've revisited communication technologies called 'email' and 'short messaging service' much more than I have in the past few years.

The Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare and Twitter applications are gone from my iPhone, and I've even stopped absent-mindedly navigating my way to where they were, only to be confused when I reach my 'to do list' and other productivity programs. I've reinstalled the fairly unpopular Viber and WhatsApp, to perhaps contact friends in other ways than my beloved Twitter. Skype is no more frequent than usual.

I socialised a bit more offline though. My housemates discuss Twitter and it doesn't even bother me! I've only once discussed with anyone about what's happening around the world, and I've only been bored on the bus a few times in the earlier days. Luckily I have a pretty happening household at the moment, which saw half of this week taken up with moving an extra housemate into the mix.

I also nabbed a chance to grab the phone number of a uni contact I'd only been running into on the rare occasion since last semester. I still don't have any money to go out and meet new people (it's only been a little while!), but BTUB last week was pretty standard (read: awesome for the most part) and made up for that.

I have found that when my moods fall I cannot blurt out whatever I want to a relatively empty electronic room. Minor anxieties come and go without validation or challenges, and major concerns mostly receive adequate feedback and support. I am not sure if my personal reasons for bailing on social media will have left me by my return date, but at least I have done my best on this more difficult aspect. I have a feeling that on my return in July, I will cull my contacts significantly on all social media networks.

On the cash flow front, I unfortunately decided not to take an offered hotel food and bev job. The late nights meant I would have paid more in taxi fares than an hour's work, and my to-be employer wanted many more hours from me than I was willing to put aside from uni. This latter reason is vital, as I have three major pieces of assessment due next week alone, and four/three essays/exams after that. Ack! Probably not the best time for me to prioritise my financial security over grades (if there ever will be!), although, I'm eyeing off a scholarship in hope of something alternate. Then again, I have spent more time studying (I think) and that is the major point of this experiment.

There you have it. A basic recap of how this is all going. Until next time, I feel compelled to say something... pip, pip!

A Social Media Hiatus

Sometime this week, I will be leaving a number of social media sites for two months. My accounts will all remain open, however I am allowing a close friend to change all of my passwords temporarily so that I am unable to use them. I will not be available through Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, or my key social network Twitter until July 1st.

My reasoning for this addresses my need to fully escape some personal and social aspects of the past year. Social media has not assisted in this goal thus far, and so I have no choice but to detatch myself from an online social circle I've been active in for two and a half years. This means meeting new people offline (a skill I am not particularly confident in at all) and engaging in other activities I need and desire to complete.

The Brisbane Twitter social group BTUB has been the love of my life since August 2008. I've only ever missed a few events due to sickness or uni assessment, and I don't have any plans to stop going. I will be at this Friday's May gathering, and if I don't have an exam the day after June's meet, I'll be there too. If you're in Brisbane and have a Twitter account, you are welcome to join us all for a drink at Greystone Bar in South Bank.

This plan is nothing personal against any friends I have met at BTUB. I love everyone so very much and don't wish to lose them. I still very, very much wish to continue these friendships but cutting online contact is something I must do. I am afraid that I will be left out of many social gatherings for the duration of my scarce online presence, but humans have been speaking to each other without Internet connections for gazillions of years; surely I can handle it.

This semester at uni thus far has sucked quite tremendously. My study habits need improving, as I constantly avoid difficult and stressing tasks and the Internet is a very welcome distraction. I need to be brave for a bit in order to lift my grades (which are KILLER when I am not stressing out), and having been in financial stress for a number of years, I'm over that and will be working hard to find some cash so that I may function.

And I am wanting to focus on many other offline activities.

  • I have been drumming in a band for a little while now and I want to improve my skills there. (If anyone wants to jam, hit me up!)
  • I also took up ukulele a month or so ago, plus my bass guitar is still sitting in the corner after years waiting for this n00b to pick it up.
  • The gym needs me to kick my own butt.
  • There is one knitted glove that needs a partner.
  • I want to learn Italian and continue my driving lessons.
  • I have never read Catch 22, 1984, The Happiness Trap, Lolita, A Clockwork Orange or many other classics. I want to catch up on Jeffery Archer's greats and The Dice Man again. Bukowski, Poe and The Desiderata of Happiness.
  • I want to visit my sister and friends in Sydney during the mid-year break in June (but no, Monje, I won't be moving there!)
  • I also need sufficient work to make enough money to live.
  • And my handwriting is appalling!

But what am I really expecting to happen? I will probably have no idea what's happening in the news, and I bet half of the sites I am quitting will be completely new ones by July. I will get frustrated for a few weeks and maybe not be so diligent in my quest to quit smoking. Hell, I might even get my haircut at last!

So to recap, I will not be available through Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, or Twitter for two months. These accounts will remain open so I may easily return in July and so that my contact details will still be available on my Facebook profile. YouTube and my blogging pages, save for Tumblr, will be kept open, mainly for uni work and writing about how I'm going with the tech detox. It seems that a few people are actually interested in this plan of mine.

Today or tomorrow I will arrange with my contact to change my passwords and I will post when I know when exactly it will be. Hopefully I won't miss any telephone numbers or emails that come through Facebook or Twitter.

But don't be a stranger! My mobile number is on my Facebook profile (hence not closing my account) and my email address is me @ nicolejensen dot com - the contact form goes to me there. As a passionate host, I will definitely email and text around when I want to host Beatnik Party 2.0 and I'm always happy to catch up down at the pub when you're in town.

Pip, pip.