My Social Media 'Leave of Absence'

Or should it be, 'Leave of Absinthe'? Absinthe, a highly alcoholic beverage, has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug. Sounds like my current take on 'Social Media'...

David Taylor on tundra

With that in mind, I submit to you (Social Media), my formal Leave of Absence letter.

Dr. Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus:

Per our previous discussion, this is a formal request for a leave of absence from Social Media. I will be taking approximately 2 1/2 months off over the summer and into early fall. I will be leaving Social Media on July 2nd (a Tuesday) and may return on September 16th (a Monday).

I would like to suspend the ego-centric popularity, 'share', '+1', 'like' contest that is social media. I just married a beautiful woman (she also goes by, "Dave's best friend"), and she deserves more time than Facetwittoogle+. A lot more.

I'm going to get selfish - time to re-focus on my passions. For too long, I have focused too much of my energy on e-socialization. I think, for me anyway, social media is a distraction. I tell myself, that all of the time that I spend on Facebook or Google+ is 'marketing'. For my photography, and my business. "And it's a good way to keep in touch with friends...". Truth be told though, I'm beginning to understand that (for me) it is a cop-out, a lazy man's approach. Who has the most 'friends', 'followers', 'fans'? But in reality, there is little reality to the personas we see and exhibit on social media.

Marketing my business has become too much... busy-ness. And too 'little passion for the craft'. I don't like who I can be, on social media. I get drawn into heated debates, get angry over divisive issues, and end up being judgmental of people's opinions. And for what? Does any of this truly matter, in the grand scheme of things? True, as Zach Arias said, we are not (as photographers) "curing cancer". But we certainly shouldn't be instigating stomach ulcers, increasing division in an already fractured and competitive industry, or setting up our supposed 'loftier ideals' as in-arguable factoids.

We are artists. We create.

The social media talking heads insist that, in order to be successful (regardless of your industry), you must be heavily involved in social media. It is, apparently, the only way to succeed in life. Of course they say this, it is in their best interests to be perceived as an expert. Since it worked for them, it will work for you... And how does one succeed in social media? You whore yourself out. You dream up posts that will get the most comments, the most likes, the most +1's, the most shares... You appease and propagate the perpetual onslaught of internet meme's (you know, those really witty or inspirational pictures with insightful words printed in a design-y way... and then, wham-o! It's like you've cured cancer. You share other funny or faux-scinating finds, hoping to be the first of your 'friends' to get it out to your 'community'...

Why? Because it is like a race that you have to finish first. You have to impress. You have to make your mark. It's like the (semi) adult version of a child that keeps screaming, "Mom, mom, mom, look, look, look!"... Look at me! You're not paying enough attention to me!" Yeah, it's annoying in the grocery store too. Quick, someone share my new word, 'faux-scinating'! You'll be popular.

Anyway. I think it may be a huge waste of time. I'm taking a break from life as we currently know it; to dive into the things that truly matter: my marriage, the outdoors, my photography. Things I'm passionate about. Things that matter. I'm planning on loving this summer, not 'like'-ing it. I'm planning on sharing this time with my wife and good friends, not 'share'-ing it on Facebook, or Google+. I'm planning on building the quality of my friendships, not the quantity of 'friends'. The only +1's I'll be striving for are those of my companions as we journey together in the real world. I'm even using an extension on my web browser to block my attempts to visit social media sites, and deleting apps on my iDevices.

I'll be spending my online time working on my website, and blogging frequently about my adventures. So I hope you'll check back here frequently. My blog posts will be automatically shared on my Facebook/Google+/tumblr/twitter accounts (using a nice piece of WP plugin - Next Scripts SNAP. I will also be discussing the ups and downs of a career in art, my musings on different topics, and showing off some new images. I hope you will stop by, say "Hi", and leave comments. Please feel free to share my adventures (and mis-steps), in my social-network absence:)

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,

David Taylor

This may not work.

It may fail.

Horribly.

I may start bouncing off the walls with the insane need to socialize online.

I honestly don't know. But we'll see. It is an experiment.

Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. For what the world needs, is people who have come fully alive.

~ Gil Baile