Attending a blogging conference, Kara Gause hardly expected a call to unplug and reconnect with her family. But it turned out to be a much-appreciated wake up call.
“Pay attention, Daddy?”
This misspelled message was sweetly scrawled by the daughter of writer, blogger and social media expert Jon Acuff across a napkin in a moment of desperation. Now, it flashed above us on three enormous screens. In one fell swoop, Acuff had thrown all his cards out on the table. In an act of transparent leadership, he showed hundreds a concrete snapshot of a day-to-day struggle: the never-ending battle for balance in a world inundated with social media.
I was taking in Acuff’s opening keynote address at the Blissdom Conference 2012, a conference for bloggers that takes place in Nashville. In truth, I’d gone on behalf of Magazines.com, hoping to network and meet some great writers, which I undoubtedly did. But what I really walked away with was my own need to unplug.
From Twitter, from (gasp!) Facebook, from Pinterest. Gulp. And even from blogging. Maybe it was time to just walk away. After all, Acuff himself just asked an audience of hundreds to consider what we’re doing to our children by always being online, always having a smart phone in hand, checking our status, looking for comments, retweets, mentions … It all seems so futile, especially when you consider that, as Acuff puts it, you’ll never “finish Twitter.”
Unfortunately, our kiddos get to be the first generation raised by people with an overwhelming desire to check in with our handheld devices before checking in with our families. We regularly give our offspring the shaft so we can look after our “friends.” I have to admit, I long for simpler times without the electronic devices. Is there really a substitute for turning the pages of a good book or a magazine? I haven’t found one.
But what’s today’s world without an online profile? How do you network or even maintain relationships with people who are also logged in all the time? Acuff says it starts by drawing a line in the sand. “Hang up and arrive” for your flesh and blood relationships, he advises. Create, and–more importantly–maintain boundaries.
Ironic that I would find this preached so heavily in the sessions and conversations at a blogging conference. Blissdom’s challenge to take a hard look at my own online habits only made me respect the conference that much more. These questions are far more important than examining platform growth.
I suppose that we, the social media guinea pigs, are arriving at a place of plugged-in overload faster than the average bear. I know I’ve arrived at a pace that needs to be slowed down. It means I’ll be drawing some lines in the sand for my personal accounts. On the other hand, I won’t be a Twitter quitter or a Facebook frenemy. Today’s world warrants a social media presence, and I want to be engaged in the discussion.
Still, I’m grateful for the wake up call, so thank you Blissdom.
Do you find yourself overly “connected?”