According to Facebook, the average user spends 50 minutes of their day on the site. Add to that time spent on Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or your own preferred mix of social media sites and it quickly becomes apparent that, for a great many people, social media is a gigantic time sink.
It doesn't take too much pondering of these figures for the idea to take hold that you might be better off just quitting most of your social media, but one consideration often holds people back. Won't my social life suffer? These services are called social media for a reason, and their whole raison d'être is supposedly to bring people together.
It's a reasonable worry, but if the recent experience of one time-pressed startup founder is anything to go by, it's pretty much unfounded. Eileen Carey, the CEO of software company Glassbreakers, admits to having gotten a ton of value out of social media in the past, in a recent Mattermark post.
"I built my early career off my ability to master social media, public relations, and the Internet. Then, I built my company with the help of Twitter relationships, the Instagram community, and Facebook connections. These tools were a secret weapon that helped my seed stage SaaS startup be visible, hire amazing talent, and get sales leads," she relates.
But when her business hit a particularly demanding patch, she felt she no longer had the time to spend maintaining her previous level of online engagement, and she decided to quit everything but Snapchat (which she uses exclusively with those closest to her). The results, she writes in the interesting piece, were far from what you might expect.
More social with less social media?
In the post she talks about the impact the move had on her professionally, including freeing up significant amounts of time she used to, essentially, teach herself product management on the fly, and also to think deeply about her company's strategic vision. But perhaps the most startling effects of her extreme social media diet - and the ones most of interest to those not currently helming a startup - were the changes she noted in her personal life. Carey writes:
By removing the time spent on superficial online relationships, I gave myself the opportunity to invest in the relationships right in front of me. I didn't know what was happening in my friends' lives unless I called them or texted them, which I did (because I do care). It's easy to let your personal relationships fall to the side when you're starting a company because you can "like" their engagement announcement. Without being on Facebook, I got phone calls about real life news, I flew to celebrate big moments, I became closer to the people I wanted closest to me. After two years of total madness and isolation starting the business, I finally didn't feel like I was so alone.
Her experience of becoming more social and connected by dropping social media isn't a fluke. One recent Danish study that asked more than 1,000 Facebook users to quit the site for a week found analogous upticks in well-being. Without Facebook, the study subjects reported an uptick in social activity and felt more satisfied with their social lives. They were also happier and less stressed.
Would you ever consider quitting Facebook?