Rainbow moments come and go very quickly, as you can see from this image below, if I wasn’t paying attention, I could have missed this. This is just one of many lessons learned from a social media break.
Recently, I returned from spending 6 weeks in New Zealand to see family. No, I didn’t do a lot of hiking and outdoor activities. Why? Because it is winter there during our summer months in the United States. I did get to spend a lot of time with my two daughters, their significant others and my grandchildren.
I also spent a lot of time working. I did manual labor work at the camp that my daughter and son-in-law run. This type of work is SO DIFFERENT than the work I do sitting at a computer all day. I told my son-in-law that I would do any work that he didn’t want to do which included:
- cleaning the camp bathrooms and dorm rooms
- painting dorm bed frames
- doing dishes for up to 80 campers three times per day
- turning the soil and bark on the playground (this was 2 solid days of work)
- chopping firewood (my favorite task)
Spending time with my grandsons was great fun. I love to play ball. Any kind of ball. I have ever since I was a little kid. And guess what? So does my oldest 2 year old grandson. We played ball. We played blocks. We played cars. We invented games. We played and played and played. I also had great fun with my newborn grandson — holding him while he slept. And, thankfully my wife changed most of the diapers!
And do you know what? I didn’t miss posting on social media one bit. During week one of my trip, I checked social media a few times and by week two, I was so busy either working or playing that I forgot about it altogether. It didn’t matter.
This was so refreshing! And, it also is making it a bit hard to get back into my pattern of posting to social media daily.
So, what were my lessons learned from going OFFLINE and not using Social Media for 5 weeks?
- Looking down at a phone while in the presence of others is the most dehumanizing thing we can do to one another – when you look at your phone while talking to someone else and interact with your phone, often taking a break in an active conversation, you are basically saying “My phone is more important than you.” When I was in New Zealand, we were there to spend time with our kids. They wanted to spend time with us. We weren’t going to waste our valuable face to face time by looking at our phones when we were in each other’s presence.
- The world of social media continues on, even if we don’t pay attention to it – this was especially made clear to me since New Zealand is 16 hours ahead of East Coast time. I was always living in the future. What was happening in the USA didn’t have as much meaning to me, because I was out of sync. And it was such a relief.
- Social Media without real-world face to face social connections is a source of depression – I experienced this in my first week in New Zealand when I tried to keep up with posting on Twitter and Instagram. All the while I was thinking, “I’m wasting valuable time with my kids and grandkids”. So, I just put it all aside and pursued face to face interactions. To get lost in the world of a 2-year-old, not thinking about anything else except for blocks and balls is extremely liberating and humanizing! By the way, my Grandson’s name for me is “Maka” – we think it’s a blend between grandpa and America? If he wanted to play ball he’d yell out “Maka, Maka!” and I’d come running.
With that being said, I did find a video messaging app that fosters authentic connection with friends and family and it is the only one I used while I was away.
The funny thing (since I told you how much I like to play with balls) is the icon for this app is a beach ball.
Marco Polo is a video messaging app for selected individuals and small groups of friends and family. It allowed us to update the great grandma’s back here in America and they found it easy to use as well. Here’s the description of the Marco Polo App:
“Life is busy. Marco Polo works when you have a moment to talk, even if your schedules don’t match. Talk when you’re on the go, between appointments, whenever it’s convenient for you. Your friend can watch in real-time or later. Unlike other video apps, you don’t need to be live.”
This is great because it allows us, with such different time zones and days (New Zealand is 16 hours ahead of USA EST) to share whenever we feel inspired. And, you don’t have to worry if someone is awake when you send your video.
It is also very real. You don’t feel like you have to edit yourself because it might be seen by someone outside your small group of family and friends.
It’s real. It’s authentic. It’s NOT BigTech Social Media. It’s family. It’s friends. It’s sharing life together via video when you can’t be there face to face.
Bonus: if someone seems to meander in their video you can click the “2x” button to speed up the video. 🙂
If you’re searching for more authentic relationships online to connect with, consider using the Marco Polo app to cultivate closer relationships with friends and family spread all over the place. To learn more about the Marco Polo App, check out this post by my wife and business partner Laura at her blog “Natural Healing Hope“: Marco Polo: The Perfect App to cultivate Authentic Connection. Marco? Polo!
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