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2 weeks with limited access to social media.

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2 weeks with limited access to social media.

I’ve limited the number of likes I can do in a day. Not to a specific number. Just generally liking less. Because it forced me to actually interact with the content I was interested in on Facebook (when I am on it).

Other things I’ve noticed since limited my social media (on all channels) include…

1) my driving improved – I’ve not been checking my phone at every red light.

2) I realised I didn’t need to check it as often – Believe me when I say the notifications don’t go anywhere. When you remember that every buzz, bleep and message is someone else’s demand on your time you really 2nd guess if it’s worth loading up the site.

3) I stopped getting phantom phone vibrations.

4) I’m happier.

5) I’ve enjoyed the world and seen more people at more exciting new places – I took a moment the other day when I was walking during my lunch hour and just took a solid breath in and out and enjoyed the sun and the atmosphere of what was happening around me. 

6) I had time to write this.

7) I’ve stopped walking into roads without properly looking – you might be able to block a person online, but you can’t block a car coming at you at 40mph. 

8) my eye contact has massively improved – I’m not sure how directly related this is, but I’ve noticed (as have a few people I’ve met up with in the past week) that I am maintaining eye contact with people easier and for longer than before. I’m not talking “serial-killer-no-blinking” contact, just looking at the person and taking in them and their expression. Given 90% of all communication is non-verbal how much was I missing because I didn’t look at the person I was talking to?

9) I focus when I am online much more… ever been on social media and had 20 tabs open because you think “I’ll get back to those little jobs in a minute”. Well, I don’t so much anymore. I always have a Word doc open which has a list of things I need to get done and stuff I want to get done. I work on the stuff I need to get done and then the stuff I want to get done (if there’s time).

10) I feel more informed – I normally would click through any number of click-bait and silly “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT X DID?!” articles in a day. Now I try to avoid them, and actively click “I don’t want to see this” so the article is removed from my timeline. Instead I’ve been trying to read more interesting and informative articles about the world.

11) (Aside from the last two nights when I’ve been in pain because of a ripped muscle and a rip out of place) I’ve been sleeping better. I turn off my phone about an hour before I need to go to sleep, then maybe put a bit of music on / YouTube clip on the iPad and close my eyes. I take in the information but I’m not looking at a screen.

12) I’ve wanted to spend time with my dad and mum. I now live with them (long story) and when you log off your computer and you think “how should I spend this time” well… 20 minutes laughing with my dad at something on TV is worth far more to me that trying to impress anyone online. Last night me and my mum had a bit of a heart to heart in a way we’ve not done… ever, I think. And late night last night me and my father had a chat about the election and laughed about some topical news we’d heard about during the day. Priceless.

In many ways I feel like a new person. Albeit a new and slightly more annoying person given I have noticed (12) I can easily split into being quite self-righteous about the whole thing. I like to think of it as more “evangelical” but the reality is, it has been quite arrogant. It’s like in stand up when you forget what your first gig was like and so you’re kinda shocked when you meet someone who is still scared to get on stage… I forget what it was like to be the guy I was 2 weeks ago, even though it was only two weeks ago. But they say it takes 3 days to get over a hump and make a habit. So in 2 weeks you can make an active change in your life which can build to a foundation of something bigger. 

Something which has really interested me is the number of performers who have messaged me saying they were sick of social media as well. They were sick of the constant stream of brags and posts and wanted to get away, but felt bad about it. Felt like they’d miss an opportunity. Or worse, a gig…

In the past 2 weeks I’ve got 3 interviews offered to me, a potential freelance writing gig and booked in 4 gigs (2 open mic, 2 progression). Could I have got more by being on Facebook for another hour? Maybe. But I am now reading On The Shortness of Life and I can tell you that should I die tomorrow I won’t be sad that I didn’t book something far off in the future, I’ll be happy I enjoyed now.

There’s a really great Buddhist quote I love which says “if you live in the past you life with regret, if you life in the future you life with anxiety, it’s only in the now that true happiness can occur” and the more you plan and spend your life reading through old posts online (because that’s what they all are… old. The minute someone hits upload it’s in the past… think about that for a second) you’re not enjoying NOW. And there’s no guarantee of future time. So you might have forgone right now in favour of something that you might not even survive long enough to do.

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Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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