Going on a Tech Fast

Earlier this month, I finally made it to my first Social Media Breakfast here in Austin (not counting the one at SXSWi) and enjoyed hearing Maura Thomas founder of RegainYourTime.com talk about “Controlling Your Attention in the age of social media and digital convergence.”

One thing from that morning really stuck with me. It was the medical fact that our brains do not actually multitask – meaning they don’t do two things at once, they just switch between them. We can switch more quickly in our twenties, but when you get as old as I am, it slows down.

So, that was already in the back of my mind when my Bible study group started a new video series called Convergence about trading ‘religious’ for relational. The first episode we’ve watched was on spiritual practices, and fasting was part of that discussion.

I’ve never actually fasted in the traditional sense of foregoing food, and have to admit I’ve counted myself lucky to not have been part of a religion that practiced giving up things for Lent. I don’t think I’d be very good at it. If I try a diet where any particular food is off limits, I immediately seem to want that food more than I ever did before.

But, the professor being interviewed on the spiritual practices video mentioned that fasting doesn’t have to mean food. She said one of the hardest fasts she has ever done was to go without books for a time, and that another one was to go without technology. And that got me to thinking.

While being online is a part of my job, I find myself drawn to the Internet even more than that makes necessary. I often feel guilty about being on my laptop at home in the evenings, and sometimes my girl says something about it to me. Twittering the play-by-play of my life has become second nature, and I check Facebook on my phone all the time.
No Internet
But, I’m about to have an opportunity to step away from the Internet.  I’m calling it my technology fast. I’m not talking about going totally off-the-grid, but about not letting myself do Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, email or any other such online activity for a full week.

It’s similar to what church leaders in England recommended this past year around Lent, dubbing it a Carbon Fast (although that included television, which I may or may not include).

“It is a real reminder that life in the slow lane at least some of the time would have real benefits for our mental, emotional and spiritual health,” said the Bishop of Liverpool.

It’s not a new thing, either. I found this post from 2006 where a blogger sounding very much like myself, was planning to give up their computer use in the evenings to help them focus and renew.

Which is exactly the outcome I am hoping to see. I want to spend a little more time thinking about God, thinking about my family and recharging my soul.

It’s not gonna be easy, but I think it will help me return to what can become the echo chamber of social media with new ideas and more focus.

Image via Creative Commons by Noii.

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Social Media in Surprising Places

Mechanic on FacebookYou already know I’m a big social media fan and think it has a lot to offer. Yet still, when I saw this sign recently at a neighborhood auto mechanic shop I gave pause. Do I really want to fan the folks who fix my car?

Well, why not? If I listen to my own commentary, it’s all about building relationships that can pay off in the long run. And small businesses such as auto repair shops have always understood how that works. It really does make sense for them to use the new tools. Right?

It’s got me noticing, however, more and more interesting places that social media is popping up. Below are a couple of examples I snapped recently. One is a snow cone stand, the other my cable company’s music channel.

What are some of the more surprising places you’ve seen Facebook, Twitter or other networks popping up?
Twitter and Facebook at the Snow Cone Trailer<
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Why You Should Consider Facebook for B2B Marketing

Wow. The second half of May really got away from me. Just noticed that I had not posted anything here since May 16!

Well, the reason is that I’ve been very busy with both work and personal activities. May included a business trip to Copenhagen and New York City, our 14th wedding anniversary and my husband’s 50th birthday, end-of-school and beginning of swim team for my girl, and the launch of two major online projects at work.

One of them, the Dell for Business Facebook page, was formally announced Tuesday with a post on the Direct2Dell blog. As Webbiquity points out, Facebook provides an opportunity for a company to put a personal face on their business.  Still many wonder if it can really work for B2B.

So, I thought I’d share some of my own thoughts about why marketers should consider a B2B-focused Facebook page in this set of slides:

[flash width="425" height="355"]http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=whydob2bmarketinginfacebook-100601131131-phpapp01&stripped_title=why-you-should-consider-facebook-for-b2b-marketing[/flash]

Not everyone agrees that there is a role for Facebook in B2B marketing. Ruth P. Stevens makes the argument against Facebook for B2B and a recent AllBusiness article put forth that the “ugly truth about Facebook” is that businesses are quitting it because they aren’t seeing a return on their investment.

But, I think too often those who don’t see benefit in Facebook are looking only for short-term revenue, and this venue is more suited to long-term relationships – the kind of marketing that’s much harder to track.

Some think LinkedIn will become Facebook for the business world. I think LinkedIn has a definite role to play, but I’m still waiting to be convinced that people use it for more than their online resume. There are plans underway that may change my mind, though, so we’ll see…

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