I’ve never been afraid of the dark.

Even as a kid, it just didn’t bother me.

Ghost stories? Gimme your best shot. Monsters? The more the merrier.

Over the years, and despite warnings from everyone about “my poor eyes,” I have even found myself typing away in a dimly lit office or workspace. It’s peaceful, meditative and in a weird way, has allowed me to produce some of my best work.

I’m the furthest thing from a Goth or creature of the night, but literally or figuratively, being “in the dark” has always seemed to help me get things done.

Which is why I can’t figure out how unplugging from social media for 8 hours last weekend seemed to buck that trend…

Coinciding with Episode 21 of SMACtalk, Daniel Newman recently challenged the @SocialBeards and I to voluntarily remove ourselves from social networks and online communities by participating in a “digital disconnect.”

I’d be lying if I told you that the thought of leaving my iPhone at my condo while I enjoyed my Saturday plans wasn’t initially appealing. After all, since launching mattblackink.com in late 2014, I have been pedal to the metal on social, and churning out more content than I ever have in my life.

But it didn’t take me long to come to the realization that I’m not just into social, or on social… I’m social period.

Being unplugged from my communities on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram made me realize how dependent I am on technology as a tool to build and nurture the relationships in my life.

Now before you let out a deep sigh and blast me and my Millennial “first world problems,” here’s why disconnecting is inherently unnatural for me:

Social adds depth to my real-time experiences. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to share any and every moment of your life (always your choice, right?) with anybody, no matter where they are in the World. While I cherish the people I spend the bulk of my day-to-day with – especially my girlfriend Kristina and my family – including my social community adds an incredible sense of kinship to the human experience.

Social creates context for future conversation. Despite constant pleas for people to put down their phones and “enjoy the moment,” staying connected on social allows for a frame of reference within your community. Nobody ever has to guess what you did on the weekend if you live-tweeted from a party or streamed a Meerkast from your child’s soccer game. We are afforded a more intimate look at who people are and what they’re all about thanks to social, which adds layers for interactions down the road.

Social teaches me something new on every refresh. Where’s the value in detaching from a constant stream of knowledge and fresh perspective? Contrary to popular belief, my timelines and streams are jam-packed with more teaching moments than cat memes. The value I place on being a tweet away from New York Times Best-Sellers, CEOs, VPs and other Regular Joes like me can’t be overstated.

At the end of the day, here’s what my Digital Disconnect experience left me thinking and feeling: if you’re active on social media, immersing yourself in the here and now by staying off social simply means you’re creating a future distraction for yourself down the road. More simply put, by prioritizing and electing to “go dark” and avoid the social community you’ve presumably built for a reason, you’re just going to end up spending time catching up later on. As much as we want to believe that muting our notifications while we’re out with family and friends – or leaving our devices behind entirely – means that we’re fully engaged with our surroundings, I just don’t buy it.

While there may be a brief serenity associated with a lack of notifications, to me, being social is an all-in undertaking. It’s definitely important to maintain a balance and spend adequate time and energy on the relationships you’ve built in your “real” life. But that’s just it… my real life includes my social life, and that’s exactly how I intend to keep it.


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