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December, 2014 | by

Social Sabbatical: Episode I

I would consider myself an early adopter when it comes to technology.

I live in San Francisco, work in the technology business, and when you wonder why you can’t get the latest iPhone at your local Apple Store, it’s because people like me pre-ordered it and were already beta-testing it for the rest of you for weeks. (You’re welcome 😉

Much was the same 10-plus years ago when I first signed up for Friendster. It was the first social network that I had ever heard of but for one reason or another it didn’t stick. So I tried MySpace for a while and then finally, like everyone else on the planet, I settled into Facebook.

In the beginning I knew very few on Facebook, but eventually it enabled me to reconnect with everyone from childhood friends to family and college pals. Nearly everyone I have ever known has an account now, and for a long time it’s been awesome.

Maybe a little too awesome.

See, over the past ten years I’ve developed what I would describe as a galactically robust addiction to a whole host of social networks. I’ve got LinkedIn for my “professional face,” Facebook for keeping tabs on my friends and acquaintances, Twitter for my quick thoughts and observations, and Instagram for my visual life, and those are just the main ones.

I realize that I’m that guy who is constantly zoned out while staring at his life through the small window of a phone, and I absolutely hate that.

You see my type everywhere, from restaurant tables where everyone’s looking at their phones to zoned-out passengers at a bus stop. That’s me walking right into you as I stumble down the street, head down typing after I check and read everything my myriad social networks are pumping out.

When I started to take stock of how much time I spent on these services I was pretty freaked out. And if I’m going to be completely honest I have to admit to being a little addicted to them. Have you ever left your phone at home but swore you felt it vibrating in your pocket throughout the day, or were certain you heard your ring and started patting yourself down as if you were on fire? If so, you might be a little addicted too.

Another concern is that a lot of these technologies are still in their Wild West phases of evolution. No one knows how all the privacy issues are going to net out, and where that will leave us after pumping all of this content into these networks for 10, 20 or 30 years!

It’s like how we watch “Mad Men” and giggle when we see a doctor smoking in the examination room – except it’ll be our children laughing at us, because we were all too naive to foresee the privacy dangers.

So I’m getting off this social media train. I will back away from the iPhone games (Clash of Clans, I’m going to miss you guys), and see what life is like when I pick my head up from my phone.

I expect I’m going to either greatly alienate myself or find out that I am miserable without the life that I have spent the better part of the past ten years creating.

Either outcome is scary, and I will keep you apprised of how it’s going next month. Stay tuned …