I cut out the bad, but lost the good. Glad I got it back.

Social media plays a very big role in my life. I connect with clients, potential clients and partners. I learn new techniques and trends from colleagues, I get tips on projects, I’ve even hired people off social media, and gotten friends hired for jobs the same way. I advertise my meetings, my workshops, my courses on social media. It’s an incredibly important tool to reach so many people and show off what Alejo Media does. I try to show a bit of our culture here at Alejo, and who we are, by showing our work, our pictures, sharing our personality. I know where to connect, such as LinkedIn, with my business accounts, and I know who I am trying to reach.

I’m still a journalist, and I don’t engage in political tete-a-tetes. It’s not good for business either. But when it comes to my personal life, social media was a bit more complicated. I love connecting with friends, but do I really need to know you had chicken tacos for the fourth time this week? And talk about a time suck. How is it 10:30 and I just opened Facebook or Twitter at 9:15? And worse was the negativity. It seemed to come up every day, whether via ads or friends posting or saying offensive or hurtful things. For the sake of what? What’s to be won or gained by not being kind? Or listening? Getting caught up in dramas, real or perceived, took its toll. It was draining. So I decided to embark on an experiment and stopped being social.

For 40 days, I left social media – except for business accounts and to get my news via Twitter. Would anyone notice? Does what I say or post make a difference to anyone but me? I wanted to find out. I’m not gonna lie – it was tough. Tougher than I thought. FOMO was high! What kind of smack was Lawrence talking about my beloved Jayhawks? Did Brian post a cat video, was it funnier than yesterday? What kind of instant-pot dinner is Keli mastering and why does my chicken always come out dry? These were the questions that burned my consciousness. But guess what? It got easier. Within days I didn’t even have the urge to open the apps. I woke up, started my day, and with those hours NOT spent on social media, I got a lot done. Wow, was I this productive in 2007, before social media got really big?

It’s funny what happens when you stop caring about things you don’t need to care about. Freeing really. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. My husband would come home and say, “Did you read this or that?” Nope. I was living a drama-free life and it felt good. I didn’t miss being so social.

But then a strange thing happened on my way to Freeville. I found other things to take up my time.

Suddenly a quick, “Let me check my email” and I’m done two hours later.

And I really did miss people.

“Lydia’s starting a new job, isn’t that great?” Hold up. A new job? When did she leave her last one? Why?

“Your aunt posted about a picture of her newest grandbaby, so cute.” Wait, what?

“Our friend is going through something awful, she’s still trying to recover.” That happened two weeks ago?

I left social media to discover if my life was better without it. It wasn’t. Most people only show the world what they want us to see. That’s human. Most people don’t post the truly hard times they’re going through. But when they do, it’s real. They’re reaching out to loved ones, near and far, they know will embrace them and try to alleviate the pain. That’s the power of social media, bringing us together. Can it drive us apart? Yes, but only if we let it.

Let those who like to stir the pot, stir the pot. If something bothers you, cut it out. Don’t engage. Set boundaries – respond to emails for an hour, then on to something else.

My friend and PR partner Ashley said to me, “You know who you are when it comes to your business social media life.” I do. And thanks to this break, I have a better handle on my personal accounts too.