Social Media Sabbatical 2017

By Mario Fraioli

Is spending time on social media bad for us? One former Facebook executive says it’s “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” while Facebook itself is offering new features to “help support people’s well-being” rather than encouraging people to curb their use of the platform.

Of course, it’s not in Facebook’s (or any social media company’s) best business interests to tell its users to step away from the service for a while so they can reset and re-examine their relationship with it, but I’m happy to do so: Join me on weeklong social-media sabbatical beginning on Christmas Day, December 25, and lasting through the end of 2017.

What will my social media sabbatical look like? I’m going to disable the Twitter and Instagram apps from my phone (I got rid of the Facebook app a while ago) and stay logged out of those same websites on my laptop until January 1. I’ll pre-schedule a handful of necessary Tweets to go out during this time but otherwise avoid interacting on these platforms. I’ll continue uploading my runs to Strava—they sync automagically from Garmin—but refrain from scrolling the activity feed.

The goal with all of this? To re-examine my relationship with social media, how (and how much) I use it, to allow myself to be bored for a few days, and to interact on a deeper level with the important people in my life instead of “staying in the loop” via my various timelines and news feeds. Does this mean I hate social media and am quitting it indefinitely? No, not at all—it’s done a lot of good for me on a number of different levels—but I hate how I use it sometimes and I’ve found that a little break can go a long way toward improving my relationship with the various platforms where I maintain a social “presence,” not to mention improving my actual presence in the human relationships that matter most to me.

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. Sign up here to get it sent to your inbox first thing every Tuesday morning.