What I Learned from My 48-Hour Twitter Fast

On Friday morning of last week, my friend Anne Jackson (aka, “@Flowerdust”) challenged me to a 48-hour Twitter fast. At first, I said, “no.” But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I thought it would give me some insight into Twitter and the role it plays in my life.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Inkout, Image #9511825

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Inkout

So, I accepted the challenge at 11:29 a.m. on Friday, December 18th. I posted this tweet:

My Twitter Status from December 18, 2009 at 11:29 am

Unfortunately, I had scheduled a tweet via SocialOomph.com to post at 12:10 p.m. and forgotten about it. Not aware that this was an automated tweet, some followers called me out on it. So I re-set the clock and began my Twitter fast from that point.

At 12:10 p.m. on Sunday, December 20, I posted this tweet:

My Twitter Status from December 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

I would think I learned three things from this experiment:

  1. Posting frequency affects your follower growth rate. In reference to blogging, I have observed that there is a correlation between posting frequency and traffic volume. In other words, the more you post (to a point), the more traffic you will generate. In fact, assuming you write posts that people actually want to read, this is the single most important thing you can do to grow your audience.

    However, I had no idea this same phenomenon would apply to Twittering. It just didn’t occur to me. Once I stopped posting, the growth rate dropped from an average of about 380 per day to less than 100. It has also taken a day to begin to recover. I am still not back to my previous growth rate.

    Twitter Counter Growth Rate

  2. Twittering really doesn’t take that much time. We all know that surfing the web or responding to email all day can be a huge time suck. When you want to increase your productivity, you go offline. I do this frequently when I need to focus and work on important projects.

    But, as I have argued elsewhere, Twittering just doesn’t take that much time—even if you post 12-15 times a day, as I do. I didn’t experience increased focus or any big productivity gains as a result of my fast. I also didn’t suffer any significant withdrawal pains. No twitches or night sweats.

  3. Twittering provides an opportunity for sharing insights. I love discovering new ideas and tools. As a result, I do a lot of reading and listening. A key part of that process is Twittering out the links to what I have discovered. But I also enjoy reading other people’s insights. In fact, several people I follow are like “human search engines.” They bring interesting stuff to my attention.

    But without Twitter, I didn’t really have a way to share my discoveries. Several times I found myself reading something and thinking, This is great. I need to Twitter a link to it. Then I remembered, Oh yea, I can’t do that. I’m on a Twitter fast. I also missed reading other people’s tweets and learning from them.

My experiment was hardly scientific. Maybe I am unique. Regardless, it was interesting and worth doing. Thanks to Anne for challenging me to do it!

Question: Have you ever fasted from social media? What did you learn?
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  • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

    Thanks for taking up the challenge (muahahaha) :)

    My new dare is to do it for several weeks…. :)

    For lent, I signed out of Twitter, Facebook (which I ended up deleting) and bogging for six weeks.

    IT WAS THE BEST.

    While maybe my follower rate did not increase at it's usual pace, my face to face time did. And when I couldn't find out what was going on with someone, I called or texted, or emailed them to ask. And when I found a good resource, I bookmarked it to share later.

    And I'm probably going to do it again Lent 2010. I think this will become a regular habit for me. Sure, it may disconnect me and make me irrelevant to society, but for a few weeks, the trade off of having almost zero distraction and much more time to focus on what is in front of me at home, in my neighborhood, and more importantly, my heart – is well worth the trade off for me!

    Proud of you…
    :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

      Anne, you're crazy! But that's a good thing. :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You and your dares. You're killing me!

      I'll have to think about it. I definitely fast during Lent, but a Twitter fast? I’m not sure I am up for this level of asceticism!

      • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

        I promise you it's worth it….you have a few months to decide, but I'm already saying that I'm all in.

        D….a….r…..e……you……

      • Candace Sargent

        Do you fast from friends during Lent? I find people who are interesting are naturally connected and plugged into things like breathing. And, they share: call a friend, have lunch with friends, talk to servers and the butcher… Twitter is natural for them.

        • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

          Not for a lot of my friends…of which I am thankful. A good balance.
          My recent post Holy, Restless Anticipation

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patalexander patalexander

      Anne you could never be irrelevant. Just look at your idea last night about decorating for those that could not afford to. Such a big heart.
      My recent post First Look – Aspire Agency Management System – TAAR – July 2009

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  • Juan

    Great post Michael, by nature we want to express our live, our experiences, what we know, what we see. We live to share; even information.

    What I do not get yet is why most of our CEOs and corporate leaders are in the sidelines watching, or maybe no even aware how social media is evolving for good.

    My CEO – almost never communicates to the troops, well it does once a month or every 3 months…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I know. I don’t get that either. It would sure put a human face on their companies if they would do it.

      • http://twitter.com/samuelkordik @samuelkordik

        How much of it is a generational issue? I am close to my organization's senior leadership and social media is a foreign concept—they don't understand it.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

          Personally, I don't think it is generational. I think that is a onvenient excuse that some executives use. I have found younger people who don't get social media and older people who do. I think it is more of a mindset.

      • http://twitter.com/samuelkordik @samuelkordik

        How much of it is a generational issue? Seems like the senior leadership in my organization just don't understand social media or Web 2.0. Great leaders, but stuck in meatspace.

  • http://twitter.com/samuelkordik @samuelkordik

    I spent about 3 days without any online communication earlier this month for my annual 50,000 ft. review. Loved it. It helped to get out of the 140-character limit mentally, to focus my (limited) attention on gaining better perspective, and it also clarified, for me, why I use twitter and social media.
    Your three points make sense, but their is an angle to number 2 that you are missing: While Twitter takes very little time, it does take attention—an asset that is limited and often in short supply. This isn't a bad thing, if your attention is being used mindfully (e.g., for what you mentioned under number 3). But sometimes a mindful use of it is to turn it off. I'm intrigued by Anne's idea of fasting from it for Lent.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Good point on #2. I am thinking about the Lent thing, too.

  • http://emuelle1.typepad.com Eric S. Mueller

    I enjoy being connected, and the idea of a fast from my connection to information makes me feel overwhelmed with the amount of time I'd have to spend catching up. It's true that most tweets in my stream could probably be missed. I hate it when people throw out 50 Follow Friday tweets, for instance. Every now and again, there's an interesting link that I don't want to miss.

    • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

      The whole point is you don't catch up!

      God is in the now. Life is in the now. If it was meant to find you, it will.
      My recent post Holy, Restless Anticipation

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

    Michael, interesting experiment and post. Is your twitter growth rate typically the same on the weekend as it is on weekdays?

    I agree that tweeting does not take much time. The thing that takes time for me is reading other people's tweets and the articles linked to in those tweets. In other words the listening part of Twitter.
    My recent post Mother “updated Twitter while son was dying”

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it is pretty consistent.

  • http://www.gorelets.com/blog/ Mike Arnzen

    Great insights in this post. We all need to take media vacations once in a while.

    I find that when I’ve taken an extended break from twitter, the hardest part wasn’t the break, it was the return to the “conversation”. I found myself rethinking why I was posting what I was posting and being more cautious and self-conscious about how I was joining the conversation(s) in progress. I think I became — as Paul Steinbeck suggested above — a better listener to the hive, somehow in the process.

  • http://rosacola.blogspot.com Rocco

    I basically fasted from social media since its conception, till sometime this past summer.

    I started with Face Book, and what I found was… long lost relatives and friends! I reconnected with a first cousin who I haven't seen in 20+(?) years. Found that he and his family are Christians, and we had a short but sweet meeting this past summer.

    I haven't quite grasped Twitter yet. Just seems 'one way' communication to me at this point, a little narcissistic(?). I just use it to follow people and see what they are doing, like you Micheal. It has connected me with some very interesting, good people like Anne and others, through its vast web like connections.

    I'm just trying to make sure my virtual relations don't take away from my real relationships.
    My recent post Oh Bugger!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I have found that Twitter has enhanced my real life relationships a 100-fold. In fact, I would not know Anne or her husband, Chris, if it had not been for Twitter. Now we live a few blocks from one another and have a great friendship.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/rosacola rosacola

        That is very cool!!

        I'm just saying I don't want my online dialog to replace, or take away from, spending face to face time with others.

        You and I having face to face time is pretty limited, but I appreciate any and all dialog we've had, and you've had with others via your online presence.

        On the contrary, those who are close enough that I can have a cup of coffee and a conversation with, I do so, not online but face to face.

  • sbitting@comcast.net

    Mike, it would be interesting what would happen with a "blind" (unannounced) fast……….

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Stuart, that would be very interesting indeed. That would be the scientific way to do it—and, of course, with a larger sample group.

      [Note to readers: Stuart is my CFO at Thomas Nelson.]

  • Terry Odell

    I'm brand new to Twitter, but was out of town and away from Internet for a week. I had blogs scheduled to post, but without being able to do any alerting or post on other blogs, my hit rate went down.

    As far as Twitter – I don't know. I get annoyed at dozens of (to me) meaningless Tweets. Quantity isn't quality. I do like the Twitter links to interesting blogs, which is how I discovered this one. What someone's eating for breakfast — not so much.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree that quantity doesn’t equal quality. I’m sure I am guilty of sending meaningless or mundane tweets from time to time. This is a good reminder.

      • http://twitter.com/tjhypes @tjhypes

        Nah… I love hearing when you're walking the dog! You're not just a talking head… you're a real person, with a real family and a real dog! :-) There are a lot of mundane tweets out there though… some people ONLY tweet about the mundane.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    I think it’s great that you accepted Anne’s challenge, if nothing more than for these insights learned. Twitter has become just a part of how I communicate (2-way, NOT 1-way). It’s almost second nature for me now. I think, like many things in life, it boils down to intention, balance and discipline (balance and discipline often combined). Being intentional about WHY we’re doing it, having the discipline to set parameters so Twitter helps versus hinders, and being constantly aware of the balance so that online connectivity doesn’t overstep offline (being present). When that “flow” is found, it’s pretty effortless. I like being connected with others though so anything that helps me do that better is a winner for me.

    380 new FOLLOWERS per day? Geesh. You are a Twitter rock star.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree about the flow. When I am with people, I do NOT look at my phone for e-mail or Twitter. I may violate this occasionally, but it is rare. I know how much it annoys me when other people do it.

      I was challenged years ago by someone who told me a story about John F. Kennedy. They said that when he met with you, it was like no one else but you existed in the world. I noticed that Nelson Mandela—at least as he was played by Morgan Freeman in Invictus—had this same quality.

      • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

        Sounds like a good idea to expand on… The Gift of Being Present. :)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

          I wrote about that in The Perfect Moment.

  • Amy Nabors

    Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I've had to take a twitter break recently simply because I needed to focus on getting ready for the holidays. I use it mainly to keep in contact with friends so I'm not worried about followers, etc. I will say your comment on the withdrawals with no twitches or night sweats made me laugh.

  • Just "JD"

    Interesting experiment, interesting results… the only thing that I can't personally relate to is the quest for more followers. So many seem to be focused on that, probably as a marketing tool, but for me personally, it's more about the relationships.

    Thanks for sharing your results!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I don't think it has to be either/or. I've never really articulated this before, but I think I use Twitter in two different ways. With my family and real friends, I use it as a two-way communications tool. I find that it really enhances those relationships.

      With everyone else, it is more of a broadcast tool—like blogging or podcasting. My interest in numbers has to do with the fact that about 25% of my blog traffic comes from Twitter.

      The really interesting thing is that several people I now count as friends, started out simply as Twitter followers.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TaterHouse TaterHouse

    I am currently on a two year fast from facebook. However I don't think I will ever go back. My account has been deleted.

    I realized that facebook was taking up too much time in my day. I was investing in my relationship with others through facebook, but at the expense of face to face relationships with them offline. "Why do I need to hang out with Steve? I already know whats going on in his life by checking up on his facebook page" It started to make those relationships "online only". And I didn't like that. So goodbye to facebook.

    I continue on with Twitter and blogging which are unique in thier fuctions and they serve a different purpose than facebook.
    My recent post It's A Wonderful Life

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrishuff chrishuff

      I check my FB account about once a month. I figure it like this:
      FB = re-connection that rarely benefits anyone.
      Twitter = connection with new people on a similar topic (for me, pro audio work) where we all benefit from interactions as we learn from each other.

    • http://twitter.com/samuelkordik @samuelkordik

      I suffer from a paucity of local face-to-face relationships, but between conferences, school, and traveling, I've developed a number of distance relationships—and Facebook is unparalleled in its ability to encourage those. However, in all of my relationships, I still find face-to-face time to be more important.

  • Jim

    Interesting post. Also interesting comment by Anne that after doing similar fasts she ended up deleting Facebook account. I'm getting more value out of Twitter than Facebook also. Just don't care what the next highest score is on a Facebook game.

    Interesting thought about fasing Twitter for Lent.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I haven't deleted my Facebook account, but I have thought about it numerous times—until I converted it to a “fan page” (a term I hate, by the way). I don't get any more inane invitations. It's beautiful! But it is primarily broadcast. I do interact with comments there, but not as frequently as Twitter or on my blog here.

  • http://tejasfan.wordpress.com Carol A.

    But has Anne gone on a twitter fast? Interesting thoughts. I find a learn and am challenged by those I follow, you of course being one. I think I would miss that interaction with people I respect in this way.
    My recent post The peace that surpasses all understanding

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      She did for Lent last year. She has super-human discipline. DO NOT mess with her. It could get ugly.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrishuff chrishuff

    I'm stuck fasting during the day as my current location has recently blocked twitter.com Would you believe I'm in a top secret underground bunker? I didn't think so.
    What I've found is it's allowed me to focus on my blogging – both the content and the design. I have modified my comment number location so it's like the little balloon and started asking questions at the end of my posts. My comments have increased. Had I been twittering, I wouldn't have taken the time to do those things. Therefore, the benefits from twitter-fasting are more than learning about twitter when I don't post.
    I will echo your comment on your the drop in followers.

    • http://tejasfan.wordpress.com Carol A.

      I fasted from blogging for almost a year. I realized I missed it. I recently started back up again. Of course I think I lost all my faithful readers but now there is time for new ones. Great ideas in improving your blog.
      My recent post The peace that surpasses all understanding

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com/theblog John

    That is the main reason I use Twitter: to share and find discoveries. Btw one of my best friends who was a long time Building Champions coach (started a new career over a year ago) hates Twitter and FB. Lol
    My recent post Listening Part 2: Focus

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's funny about your Building Champions friend. I finally talked Daniel Harkavy, the CEO into blogging and Twittering. His blog is awesome, but he still needs to ramp up his Twitter activity. I am trying to help!

      • http://twitter.com/DanielHarkavy @DanielHarkavy

        You would be proud of me Coach Hyatt. Two Tweets today!
        Merry Christmas,

        Daniel
        My recent post I Don’t Speak Teenager

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RachelleGardner RachelleGardner

    Mike, I could have written these exact same things. I've gone off Twitter a couple times, for a few days each time, and I had a similar experience. Glad to know you use SocialOomph.com — I use it too, and I love it! Merry Christmas.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I don't know how you use SocialOomph.com, Rachelle, but I use it for scheduling Tweets. I schedule link per day to a blog post in my archives. I have them all in a file and mass upload them, scheduling them one day apart. It’s a great tool.

  • http://www.jessicatudor.com Jess

    It's not so much social media as the internet in general. I am WAY more productive when I close the browser and pretend Comcast hates me. This applies to social media sites as much as blogs and email, too. I can get sucked into essentially "chatting" on Twitter, and an hour later haven't gotten any work done.
    My recent post Add Some Heat

  • http://www.jessicatudor.com Jess

    It's not so much social media as the internet in general. I am WAY more productive when I close the browser and pretend Comcast hates me. This applies to social media sites as much as blogs and email, too. I can get sucked into essentially "chatting" on Twitter, and an hour later haven't gotten any work done.
    My recent post Add Some Heat

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    OK… Someone needs to start posting in advance a list of what other bloggers are writing about.

    I'm getting tired of people writing about the same subject as me on the same day …. and doing a better job than I did :-)
    My recent post No Tech Tuesday

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's pretty funny! Great minds … and all that.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

        Ah, but the difference between you and me is that you did it and I just talked about it ;-)
        My recent post No Tech Tuesday

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeffHolton Jeffrey Holton

      At least you got the post out.

      People keep posting things that have been rattling around in my head and just haven't fallen out onto the keyboard yet.

      So you're a step ahead of me, Peter! : )

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

        There's a silver lining to every cloud :-)

        My recent post No Tech Tuesday

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeffHolton Jeffrey Holton

    I fast from Twitter when its distraction *would* be a detriment to productivity. I've done it several times in the past few weeks (as I'm trying to wrap up a project) and will probably do it again today.

    The majority of people I follow build me up, encourage me, empower me, enlighten me, and in some way push me in the right direction. I love that. I'm trying to learn to repay the favor.

    Why would I want to fast from that voluntarily?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    I just have one question, Michael. How do you effectively follow over 50,000 people? Especially if you interface using a cellphone. I have a new Droid phone and use Twidroid. I currently follow about 100 people and find that tweets from popular Twitter aficionados like Guy Kawasaki fill my phone and sometimes drown out others like you.
    On the desktop, programs like TweetDeck can help sort out the noise, but what do you use to sort out a huge stream of conversations on your phone?
    My recent post Do You Have a Heartfelt Goal?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I use TweetDeck on both my desktop Mac and my iPhone. As you suggested, I sort followers into columns.

      On my phone, I mostly just pay attention to DMs and Mentions.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patalexander patalexander

    Mike, great insights. I don't formally impose a no twitter, no facebook time, but I do find myself taking breaks. Could you share what tool you use to capture the tweets as you have in this post? Thanks,
    My recent post First Look – Aspire Agency Management System – TAAR – July 2009

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I use Snapz Pro X for the Mac. I also sometimes use Skitch to annotate a screen capture (like I did in the third screen capture).

      SnagIt is awesome for Windows. It has just come out for Mac in beta. Unfortunately, it does not yet have the ability to create an automatic drop shadow around the image, like Snapz does. It’s a little unstable right now but looks very promising for the future.

      • Pat Alexander

        Mike, thanks for info. I will check them out. Wish SnagIt was ready since I use it a lot in windows. So I will keep a watch on its new Mac version.
        My recent post My Love Affair with New York City

  • Jenni@dcjacobson.com

    Our agency was without phones and email for 24 hours due to a storm-induced power outage earlier this month. Though I felt hopelessley disconnected at first, as I scrambled to reschedule appointments, it actually turned out to be a refreshing chance to disconnect and focus on some of the manuscripts I'd been wanting to catch up on!

    I try to "disconnect" myself on weekends as much as possible, and I find it to be a very centering time to "reconnect" with the simple and elemental things in my life. Though I love being able to network and connect with people through social media, I also value being present to the people and situations I'm with physically…and for me those are sometimes mutually exclusive.

    For the same reasons, I don't listen to music or sermons on my runs anymore. Though I know it can be uplifting and "productive", I love the freedom to be alone with my thoughts and the sounds of my own breath and the twitterings along the trail.

  • http://twitter.com/tjhypes @tjhypes

    I actually fasted from Facebook and other social media during Lent. While some said that wasn't really a "fast" it provided the end result that I believe a fast is set out to do… provide a time for me to draw closer to God. During that time, I changed my Facebook profile pict to have a faded out picture of myself with wording stamped on top that read, "I'm giving up Facebook and leisure-based internet activities for Lent… catch me on email and back here in April!"

    Surprisingly, my fast not only gave me more time with God, but it also unintentionally served to "raise the flag" to my acquaintances and less intimate friends that I was a Christian. It sparked quite a few great conversations when I returned.

    Through my fast, I learned that I was spending a lot of time in the evenings surfing the internet, looking up information, responding to friends, etc… and not spending as much time with my daughter and husband. When they would ask me for something, the response was often, "Just a sec. I need to finish this page first." What I was really telling them was, "Hold on, this is more important than you are."

    I'm still not 100% there yet, but now I'm more likely to set the laptop aside, and play with my daughter or have an eye-to-eye conversation with my husband when the request comes up.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I like the idea of changing your profile picture while you fast. Cool.

  • http://blomerus.org Marysol

    I often do this just to focus in my undivided attention on the people I'm with (spouse, family, holiday times, etc).

    Michael, a question I have is what are your observations about your focus, attention, or quality of RELATIONSHIPS when you unplug from twitter? Helpful? Unnoticeable changes? Family was thankful?

    Maybe this could be a part 2 blog post? Further thoughts?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I don't think they noticed. I make a conscious effort not to let it interfere with my offline relationships.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Cindy_Graves Cindy_Graves

    I haven't fasted from social media. Maybe I haven't been at it long enough to really notice a difference. There are days when I know that I can't afford the distraction so I don't even open my Tweet Deck application. Just means I have more to "catch up on" at the end of the day. :)

    I love the "human search engines" ! Perfect way to look at it.

    If it helps anyone in their unofficial research, I'm a 46 year old mom with 3 grown daughters. I'm the only person in my family who uses Twitter. I'm on a church staff (there's only one person older than me) and there are only 3 of us on Twitter. Don't think it's generational. It could be a mindset, but I've never thought of myself as being very tech savy. Someone needs to do some research, I think!

  • http://www.reachinghurtingwomen.com Tamara

    Excellent post, I love Anne for her challenge! I've been following her for about a year, which is how I discovered Michael's blog, which in turn took me to the other blogs I follow. I recall Ann's Lent fast earlier this year and it didn't turn me off all. On the contrary, it gave me more respect for her and made me more committed to read her posts.

    As for my own media fast, I've been on a media fast for years now. After getting sober 5 years ago, God prompted me to remove radio, TV and magazines from my life. I have huge boundaries on my Internet influences as well. I tried Twitter but just couldn't get into it. I prefer Facebook to stay in touch with family and close friends. By following a handful of blogs, that relate to or help me with my own blog, I keep a clearer head and stay focused on what God has called me to do each day.

    Thanks Michael! I remain a committed follower of your blog and continue to go higher because of it! Blessings and Merry Christmas!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I went on a media fast last December. I have only recently begun watching the news again—and even that in small doses. It is definitely toxic.

  • http://www.stillforming.com Christianne

    I took a class last fall in the spiritual disciplines as part of my graduate program. We practiced all the classical disciplines, but fasting had a particular emphasis in the class.

    One thing I discovered during those eight weeks was my entrenchment in technology. Email, blogging, and Facebook were addictions for me. Several times I chose to practice fasting from these aspects of my life. I became very cranky very quickly during those times! But I also saw growth because it was about disentangling my identity from what I received from those things and re-rooting myself in God.

    Then earlier this year I felt led to take a summer of solitude to study the subjects of nonviolence and peacemaking without any distractions. I deleted my Facebook account entirely and signed off my blog. I didn’t know if I would continue the blog when the summer ended. (Turns out I launched a new website instead, partly as a result of the summer discoveries.)

    I think fasting is about learning to receive from God who we really are and finding our satisfaction in him. That is harder to do than to say. It is harder to know than to learn in theory. I wrote a little bit about this concept here.

    • Christianne

      Oops! So sorry. I linked to the wrong place in my previous comment. I meant to link to a post I wrote on fasting here.

      My apologies!
      My recent post Life Update: A Video

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    Oh, and my commiserations that your rate of follower increse dropped so significantly.

    I know when I don't tweet for a day or so, my rate of increse drops from 2 a day to 1 so I know how harrowing it can be :-)

    48 hours is not long enough for the night sweats though. You knew you were going back to it at a pre-arranged time, your mind could cope…. Try doing it indefinitely and I bet the sweats will come pretty soon!
    My recent post No Tech Tuesday

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Hmm. I could be wrong, but I think you might be making fun of me! ;-)

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

        To be honest, I wasn't sure either!
        My recent post No Tech Tuesday

  • http://twitter.com/GordonLokenberg @GordonLokenberg

    Hi Michael,

    Fun reading, I quited twittering for a whole weekend, after posting my tweet nr. 12k on 12.12 on Friday February 27th '09, and back online on 1st of March.

    Not twittering gave mentions on Saturday like:
    - are you ok?
    - What is happening?
    On Sunday even I got an SMS: He pal, is everything okay? Give me a call!

    On Monday I was back on air again and live went on :)

    Good to see you survived too!

    Greetz,
    @gordonlokenberg

    My recent post http://www.dutchrecruitmentportal.com at Recruitment Industry Dance Event 2009

  • http://forrest-long.blogspot.com Forrest Long

    I've never intentionally fasted from the social media but recently our internet was down for about three days. At first I went into a slight panic, but that passed and I survived fine. Maybe a complete media fast occasionally is good. Thanks for this post and your insights.

  • http://www.erikarobuck.com Erika Robuck

    Excellent. Now I won’t give up social media for Lent like I’d planned.

  • http://www.fallenandflawed.com/ Demian Farnworth

    Funny you should ask, Michael

    This past November I pulled the plug on all social media–including my blog–for 30 days.

    I desperately needed the distance and it allowed me to think about where I wanted to take my blog.

    Best thing I did for the blog.

    Here's my summary of that extended sabbatical:
    What I Learned from My 30-Day Blogging Break
    My recent post Comfortable or Convicted? Your Response to God’s Holiness

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I can see how the *space* would make a huge difference in your perspective.

  • http://www.cherylblemine.wordpress.com Cheryl B. Lemine

    Mr. Hyatt:

    I'm at a weird place in blogging life. Although a newbie, I'm loving the forum and challenge of creating, posting and celebrating!

    Currently, I let others know about new posts by either emailing en masse (big time taker upper), posting the link on my Facebook page or my readers being notified through the subscription option.

    Your "Twitter fast" post intrigued me. Months ago, (before blog) I tried Twitter and it wore me out! Now I'm thinking I need to re-think the whole Twitter issue and reconsider using it.

    My question may be too basic for this forum, but do you have a "top three list" for best ways to get out the word?

    You use Twitter to pass along not only insights but helpful tips. Right now all I can comprehend is putting my blog link and that's so self-serving. I don't want Twitterers to ignore me – and I don't feel "sophisticated enough" to be a resource passing along valuable links, etc.
    My recent post Family: Transition x 2

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I do think you have to be a contributing member of the community. Servant-leadership is key. If that is first, everything else will come in its own time.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MikeHolmes MikeHolmes

    I had realized sometime ago I was a social media addict. I denied it for some time…but I came to grips with it a while back.

    I went on a church trip and decided NOT to carry my phone because I wanted to "detox." My wife unfortunately said bring it just in case of an emergency…the emergency never did come. I tried for a few hours but then I was tweeting on the trip and doing other stuff. Now that I have the Motorola Cliq…I'm even more of an addict!!

    We need a social media support group…we should put it on a hashtag:)

  • http://elainaavalos.blogspot.com Elaina Avalos

    I have fasted from social media. Or at least Twitter. I did for more than three months. But I knew that I wouldn't simply stop checking Twitter. I actually deleted my old account. I felt it was best for me.

    I still checked in with Facebook because I felt Twitter was allowing for too many voices, many of which were negative, to influence my thinking. When I was at a crossroads and searching for direction that was precisely the time for quiet. And as Facebook is largely friends and family and I have more privacy controls and better filters for content, I stayed active with Facebook.

    I felt it was a huge benefit to me. I am so very glad I did it. I now have a new Twitter account. But I feel confident now that things are in order and I was better able to hear from God what the next step was for me.
    My recent post California, you are a state to love.

  • http://www.danblackonleadership.blogspot.com/ Dan Black

    I have never fasted from social media sites. But after reading this blog I can see that I need to post more on a daily basis. Thank you for the post.
    My recent post The Thinking Leader

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    I guess I'm a little different because I mainly use Facebook and Twitter to "promote" my blog rather than to keep people up-to-date on my life. However, I do enjoy reading the Tweets of the people I'm following because they expand my world. Sometimes being able to connect with others balances the challenges of teaching high school students.

    Right now, I am satisfied with the positive impact both Facebook and Twitter have had on my blog traffic. After this school year ends, I am planning to do much more with Twitter and with reading and commenting on more blogs. I also hope to have my 'book" (the blog posts) done this summer. After that, who knows what door God will open.
    My recent post #23 UNDERSTANDING CHRIST: HIS WALK ON EARTH

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tyler_Braun Tyler_Braun

    While your first point makes sense your backing it up makes no sense. You showed how on Saturday you didn't gain many followers…That was your only full day of no tweets.

    But the problem is that not as many people use twitter on the weekends. And I'm sure #followfriday helped you gain a lot of followers on Friday as well.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/blogan Brent Logan

    Not all follower growth is the same. Write a tweet with the word "coffee" in it and you'll get a bunch of coffee-oriented twits following you. They don't want to read what you have to write; they're just hoping you'll follow their web link and buy something. Write another tweet with "school" in it and you'll get a bunch of new tutoring assistance followers, all trying to sell to you.

    No thank you. I don't need or want followers that have no intent to read what I write, who just want to sell something to me. What sort of followers do you want?
    My recent post The White Envelope

  • http://www.theresepatrick.com therese

    What a fun post! And all the comments are awesome.

    It all comes down to individual choice. The choices and connection needs of a CEO for a publishing company are very different from those you are connecting with – your audience – who are on a path of leadership that will take different routes.

    Anne Jackson has challenged us all with a sense of balance. To Tweet or not to Tweet is not the issue. To reclaim our personal connections with balance to social connections – is the journey.

    There is purpose and benefit to both – social media and fan base growth – and – face to face unplugged connection.

    The soul celebrates both when the purpose is an individual choice to benefit the self and the many.

  • http://www.tonihunter.com Toni Hunter

    thank you for your valuable research, I shall quote from it everytime someone accuses me of being a twitterholic, or my colleagues argue that it is a wast of time!
    My recent post Time troubles…..

  • http://twitter.com/KarynBrownlee @KarynBrownlee

    You know I fast from Twitter and all technology every Sunday, as I shared in my guest post on your site "7 Strategies for Keeping the Internet from Taking Over Your Life" (http://michaelhyatt.com/2009/12/7-strategies-for-… I may not be perfect at it, but it's a true effort. My friend, Author Karol Ladd, first inspired me to do this.

    It's important to remember that the true purpose of a fast from a spiritual standpoint is not a self-focused one. A fast is a sacrifice made to draw one closer to God. It is not what we can gain from the fast in the natural world, but in the supernatural world. Historically, people who fast trade time spent on one activity for time spent seeking the Lord in prayer, worship and/or meditation.

    Like Anne, I'm proud of you for giving it a try. I encourage you to give it a try again, resting your mind from the earthly ramifications of doing so and relishing in the heavenly rewards.

    PS I'm still interesting in learning the results of your Internet Addiction Test!

  • http://twitter.com/Lizaroonie @Lizaroonie

    I've fasted t.v. for almost a year now. Fasted print newspapers for 8 years. Have become increasingly disenchanted with Facebook's ever-changing settings, especially those regarding privacy. On both Twitter and Facebook, it can almost be a part-time job deciding who to friend/follow/allow/ignore/defriend/interact with. I'm not promoting anything (yet). I have built some great friendships, reunited with old friends/associates. Enjoy the interactions. As you've said, Mike, I like sharing ideas, thoughts, prompting thoughts, engaging people to consider, and these networking venues provide that opportunity. Since you moved to a fan page, however, I rarely see your tweets, and I don't make a habit of reading through Twitter so I do question "why am I doing this?"

  • http://www.lizbabbs.com Liz Babbs

    I guess you’re not addicted to Twitter, Mike. Which is healthy. You are in control of ‘it’ and ‘it’ is not in control of you. Fasting from something highlights unhelpful addictions. But I guess there are many who are addicted to Twitter.

    Like Anne, I gave up Facebook for Lent and loved it! It relieved so much pressure and gave me some precious time back. You probably don’t need to give up Facebook for Lent, unless you think you’re addicted to it.

  • http://wayoutwise.blogspot.com Jeff

    I don't think the fasts are bad. I suppose from your perspective they hurt but, on the other hand, I tend to ignore tweets that are mundane. I don't want to hear from you about warming up your car or going to the bathroom or whatever it is.
    My recent post Show Me The Money

    • mary

      I think fasts are a good way to reflect. You may end up gaining more than you realize. It can clear your mind from clutter and allow you to think about new ventures.

  • http://authorculture.blogspot.com Linda Yezak

    Posting a comment now is revealing just how far behind I am in reading my subscriptions, but I just couldn't pass this up (and forgive me if this has already been addressed–I didn't read all the comments).

    You've said before that Twittering doesn't take much time, and I believe it doesn't for you. You have a built-in platform. People are interested in your tweets, simply because of who you are. But if you're beginning your platform, as I am, it does take time to develop relationships and a following. Not as many people are interested in my morning jog as they are in yours.

    Although I'm doing a bit better on Facebook, I'm having a hard time realizing the value of Twitter. But I keep plugging along.

    My recent post Fabulously Fun Friday: The Right Pen Name

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  • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

    The growth rate because of using or not using Twitter is amazing. I learned today that you should give more tweets on other subject matter then what you are trying to market. So for every 10 tweets I try to only have 1 that is marketing my blog.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I agree. I have a post called The 20-to-1 Rule that lays out this principle. Twitter, like other social media, rewards generosity.

  • http://www.rookie-manager.com/ Kellie

    I just came back from a 47 day semi-fast (I used buffer but I didn’t read tweets). My experience was quite different because as a Twitter addict, it took a lot of my time and energy. I’d either be on Twitter reading updates, or off Twitter thinking about what I could be missing.
    The break was beneficial, though as you say, the follower rate drops. I find I am more “present” now, my quality of people interactions has increased, and my tweeting will definitely be different as a result of the break.