Michaela MacIntyre hasn’t tweeted for 15 days. Michaela MacIntyre is missing the red notification icon. Michaela MacIntyr...

The Lone Ranger


Michaela MacIntyre hasn’t tweeted for 15 days.
Michaela MacIntyre is missing the red notification icon.
Michaela MacIntyre doesn’t like this.
RT @mich_maci Why, oh WHY did I bother with this stupid experiment? #ffs #sendGIN
0 @replies
0 fun

If you read our blog, you might have caught my first post at the end of January on my facebook & twitter sabbatical here. I’ve been facebook & twitter free for February. I promised I’d give you an update on how it’s going.

I can certainly say this much - It’s not been an easy transition from socially saturated to socially bereft overnight - it’s been a rough 15 days. There is a wonderful line from the 1990 film ‘Dances With Wolves’ that sums up my sentiments on the matter entirely… Lieutenant John Dunbar, a few weeks into his solitary post on the Western Front, writes in his diary:

Many times I'd felt alone, but until this afternoon I'd never felt completely lonely.

Johnny boy, how right you are. It should be easy, right? How many people have said to me, “I’m not really on facebook or twitter – don’t see the point. I can’t be bothered to hear what everyone had for breakfast.” So, I assume there must a great deal of people who are NOT on facebook or twitter, and who are coping JUST FINE. Why then, can’t I be one of them? WHY?

I’ve had everything from the cold sweats and the shivers to automatic facebook app opening syndrome to peeking over commuter shoulders to look at their facebook – just to get my fix. It’s been a serious detox.

Here are just 3 of the many cons I’ve experienced so far:

I feel lonely
Locked out of my digital village, banished to the social outskirts of society, relegated to hearing news from friends in passing and being forced to try and send more emails to stay in touch... It’s just not the same. I have really missed McSharing – easy, bite size chunks of banter and micro stories between friends and family.

What I’ve noticed is that people don’t like to talk anymore – I can’t get through to anyone! No one has time for a 15/20 minute chat. No one can allow themselves just a 5-minute chat. So when I have wanted to phone a friend and tell her how awesome my cupcakes are, and that’s ALL, I can’t. I have to include the rest of the chat that goes with a telephone call. Talking on the phone has some rules around it that sharing with each other in social doesn’t. It goes a little something like this:

1.     You have to ask about health/ jobs/ partners/ children/ family – and you have to maintain a conversation about this for the first 10 minutes at least, and swap stories. Niceties.
2.     You have to finish the call with a promise of getting a real life meet-up in the diary.

So, in short, I haven’t done much calling. And not nearly as many people have called me as I thought they would.

I feel like I’m missing out
Is he in Guatamala yet? Did she have the baby? Did she pass her finals? People don’t really text anymore. They don’t really do many group emails with news and pictures attached anymore. I have to proactively go and find this information now. People assume that because they have posted on facebook, everyone will know.
Plus, I know for a FACT that the dress I wanted did go into the All Saints sale, and I only found out about it the next day when there was only a size 6 left. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs also released a demo version of a new LP on their album. Normally, I’d have been the one sending this on to people and getting the kudos for finding out about it first. Whitney died and I didn’t find out about it until 5pm – that’s a whole Sunday that could have been legitimately dedicated to listening to my ‘Best of Whitney’ album – dashed.
I went to an industry talk today and I just listened. Everyone else was tweeting. The coffee chat after the talk was all about the tweets – they enhanced the experience. I didn’t get to read a single one.

I feel disabled, or rather ‘less able’
On several different occasions, I have wanted to ask twitter banal, but important questions (like ‘How long can you store cup cake batter for in the fridge?’ and ‘How on earth do I check if my gas meter is reading my flat’s supply and not next doors?’). Questions that I know would have been answered within seconds. Instead, I have had to trawl through Google search results and read a lot of irrelevant rubbish before finding my answers. And a lot of the time, the answers came from sources I don’t trust nearly as much as my circle of contacts on twitter (despite never having met many of them).

Now, my experience certainly isn’t the benchmark for all – I get that. But I am really fascinated, I didn’t think I’d feel like this, and I hadn’t noticed how redundant telephone conversations have become between friends. On the upside, some pros have included:

I haven’t questioned my life in a while
It occurs to me that a lot of facebook is about showing off – ‘Look what amazing boyfriend bought me!’, ‘Loving the St Tropez Sunshine!’, ‘Look how close we are to Florence and the Machine!’. I haven’t been forced to look at the amazing lives of friends I’m not that close too and not once have I pondered on how mine isn’t matching up. And surely, most are just posting the good bits – not everyone’s lives are so wonderful all the time. But facebook and selective sharing has made me think they might be.

I feel a bit more mysterious
Whilst I miss sharing, it’s quite nice knowing that my ex doesn’t know I went on a hot date last week. It’s quite nice knowing my nosey friend won’t be stalking him off the back of a ‘Michaela MacIntyre is now friends with XXX’. It’s rather pleasant knowing I wasn’t tagged in a bar at 2am a few weekends ago, much to my sober friends dismay. According to her, I’m still alcohol free. Result.

I’ve got something to talk about
As much as I’ve been in the dark when real life conversations have started with “Did you see on facebook….” Over the last few weeks, I’ve also got new stuff to talk about – I’ve read 4 new books, written 4 more chapters of my novel (that will never be published but is just for fun), re-edited some wedding photography on the commute instead of tweeting and I’ve discovered Pinterest.

But do you know what has really struck me? No one cares… if you don’t share. Social media is about the self, the me, the I. It’s fun because people comment on your sharing. But if you aren’t sharing, someone else is, so you are not indispensable. What does this say about influencers and their impact on the modern, socially connected consumer? What does this say to brands about how they should be using social to connect with consumers? I’ll have formed a more solid opinion on this by the end of the month.

Half way through though, I’m actually pretty delighted with the results and the insights I’ve gleaned. But I can’t help feeling that something is missing. And I can’t wait to get back to being social. See you in social-media-re-immersion March!? #whatageek

By Michaela MacIntyre (@mich_maci)

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