Experimenting with less connectedness

fb_icon_325x325How often are you present instead of connected?

Personally, I find myself connected more than I am present. That is to say, I default to being on my phone looking at social media instead of being present in the moment and enjoying the company of those around me.

I’m ashamed of this behavior, but it’s not too late to take steps to fix this.

The past couple days, I have been taking part in the Kansas Leadership Center‘s “Teaching Leadershipconference program, and today’s keynote speaker was leadership consultant Paul Robinson. His presentation was entitled “The Joy of Leading: Valuing Intentional Presence to Ignite Effective Change,” and he talked about connection versus presence . . . being connected to social media versus being present in the moment with actual humans.

It made me consider my own behaviors, and I thought about how more often than not my wife I sit in the same room watching television, and we both are looking at our phones the entire time. We aren’t watching our chosen program, let alone speaking to each other in any meaningful way.

That made me sad.

So I delved deeper into the problem. Why are we acting this way? For me, it is a lack of stimulation. The television program wasn’t doing it for me, and since my wife and I erected the barrier of “watching television,” we weren’t stimulating each other with conversation. This lead me to take part in my default behavior, which is to pull out my phone and begin scrolling through social media.

Knowing all of this wasn’t enough, though. I needed to go deeper. Specifically, where was I spending most of this time being connected instead of present?

It didn’t take long more to zero in on it. The answer was obvious — Facebook.

I love Twitter and enjoy Instagram a great deal, but I spend most of my time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I get caught up in watching all of those annoying auto-play videos and reading the drama people post to their followers such as myself. It’s pathetic. I don’t even create that much content. I just consume, and I get entranced and keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and . . .

It’s an addiction.

Coming to this conclusion inspired me to develop an experiment for myself to see if I can be more present.

Starting on July 1, I am going to delete the Facebook app from my iPhone. I will remove the temptation to constantly check in on this social media platform by making it more difficult to actually check it.

At the end of the month, I will reflect on my time of less connectedness. Maybe I will reinstall the app if I find it didn’t help, but if it did help, I will leave it off my phone for good.

I will be keeping the Facebook Messenger app installed. I view that as a communication tool, one some family members and prospective dj clients use to reach me almost exclusively.

I will also be keeping the Facebook Pages Manager app since I am an administrator for multiple pages for various organizations. Again, though, this particular app is more of a communication tool. It isn’t inherently only about the social aspects as I can’t simply scroll through a bunch of posts in my newsfeed.

This doesn’t mean I will be leaving Facebook by any means. I will still keep the app on my iPad, and I will still check in from time to time when I’m on my computer. The point is to simply eliminate the easy access I currently have because I am on my phone more than any other device.

Through the course of this experiment, which I truly hope will make me a more present person, I could find myself more connected to Twitter or Instagram. I don’t think this will be the case, though. I primarily use Twitter for the news and journalism organizations I follow, which means after I see the same basic story being tweeted about I get bored and close the app. Furthermore, I follow such a small number of people on Instagram it is quick and easy to get all caught up. However, I am allowing for the possibility my addiction with shift to a different platform. In fact, it might create a whole new social media addiction I didn’t even consider before.

That’s the beauty of an experiment. I don’t know what the result will be. If I did, it wouldn’t be much of an experiment.

I will let you all know how this goes come August. Wish me luck!

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About toddvogts 843 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.