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Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

When I was a child, I would (frequently) march into the kitchen and tell my mother that I was leaving. Going away for a long period of time, bags packed. And you are going to miss me because – like Richard Nixon – you won’t have me to push around anymore. Fortunately, my mother is a wise woman. She would stare me down just long enough for me to realize I had a pretty good life at 223 Arthur Avenue and it was time to get back to reality.

This same scenario is now being played out across social networks the world over. Seemingly counterintuitive to building and engaging a social media empire, users are repeatedly announcing “I’m exiting all social media channels for (XYZ) period of time.”

No, really, I'm leaving Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Same for Spotify, Quora and Pinterest. I won't be posting to Goodreads, Instagram or blogging anymore. Really.

An admitted social media junkie, I jumped in feet first when the opportunity to join LinkedIn crossed my desk in 2003. Friends on Facebook? You bet – presently going back to grade school and my days on Arthur Avenue. Twitter? All day, every day. You see, social channels have made the world smaller, relationships deeper and accessibility to real-time information a reality. Powerful when used properly and obnoxious when people post about their breakfast, their breakup or their blemishes.

But do I need to call your bluff? Because in the case of every person in my network who’s recently announced they're going off the grid entirely for a period of time, there are two considerations.

First – no one exits entirely. Inevitably they will intermittently pop up here and there. Sometimes when a new network emerges. Sometimes they reappear through previously scheduled tweets intended to be deleted but forgotten. Which is creepy because it’s a direct reminder that some people were never authentic participants in the social world; they're just fictitious social personas.

And second – if you're going to leave, leave (which by the way, I think my mother suggested this a few times). Don’t tell us over and over again, just do it. We'll miss you and be happy when you return. But sending out countdown tweets about going off the grid in 10, 9, 8, 7 … days feels like a boss micromanaging an employee. Go, have fun, learn something and post substantial thoughts when you return.

Jeanne AchilleComment