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Rob Gould

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002). Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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Social Social with Rob Gould
Posted: March 19, 2014

Unplugging from Social Media | My recent experience | OMG! What have I done?

I recently decided to unplug completely from social media. As a heavy user of social media, when I made this decision I think it shocked (and concerned) everyone I knew, including myself. I initially committed to one week, but that turned into two. It was quite an experience and I’m here to tell you about it.

I should note that when I made this decision the circumstances of my life were not exactly business as usual. I had some personal stuff going on and needed to take some time away from the daily grind. However, this has certainly happened before and I had never made the decision to back away completely from social media. I have been forced away at times due to things like being in locations without the Internet (so annoying) or being in the hospital (even more annoying), but I can count the number of times I’ve voluntarily completely unplugged on no hands. Because it simply has never happened. Not for more than 24 hours anyway.

So, let me get started. The first two days were really quite nice. I got to do things like read actual books, something I used to love to do, and watch TV without having to use the “second screen” at the same time. I was also able to really focus on the personal stuff that I mentioned I had going on. Really focus. That part was almost painful.

Speaking of painful, that brings me to the next few days. Things began to get shaky. I started to feel like I was missing something. Like a limb. I started to think in tweets. I had dreams about Facebook and Instagram. I swear, at certain times I got sweaty with lust just thinking about social media. Fortunately, I had some serious life stuff going on to take my mind off of things, but that never lasted for long. It was almost excruciating. Seriously. And this part lasted for five days.

But, just when I got to the point where I didn’t think I could take it anymore, events transpired in my life and a situation was created where I knew I couldn’t use social media and I had to focus. What a relief! The situation wasn’t a good one — and fortunately it resolved itself in a positive way — but as far as its ability to distract me from social media it couldn’t have made more sense. And, once I came out the other side from it, that was when I made the decision to unplug for another week.

The second week was really quite easy. It was like my addiction had been broken. I did all of the things I mentioned in the first two days. And, I didn’t obsess. It just felt more natural. Like there really is life after Twitter. I swear. There really is. I say that to remind myself not to try to teach anyone any big life lessons. Honestly, if you’re learning your big life lessons from me you’re probably in trouble. To put it mildly.

It was towards the end of the second week that I started to get antsy again. Probably because I knew it had to end. I mean, I make my living using social media so I knew I was going to have to go back. I started to feel that anxious pull again like I was missing something and, really, I was. I have a lot of friends on social media. Lots of people in Maine but also all across the US and around the world. That’s been one to the true gifts of social media. And, I missed you people.

So, I’m back. Here I am. Hopefully, I’ve learned something. I think I have. I’m going to try to have a little more distance at times. And, I’m definitely going to have more time when I’m completely unplugged. After all, as it ended up, it really wasn’t so bad.

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