In the 18th century when the Americans were entrapped in the Revolutionary wars, a lot of fighting went on. A new enemy was born each day and the fighting frankly, got worse and worse. The army was distracted and Britain kept hitting them off frontlines each passing day.
One man, Nathan Hale, volunteered himself to ‘regain focus’ for the American fighter boys. He was to disguise as a Dutch teacher and leak vital intelligence from the Britons to the Americans – a crime punishable by death by the Britons. Nathan reported a lot of British army advances which helped the American army rout the Britons but that sacrifice cost him his life. Before he was hanged, he muttered the ‘one life’ speech from which we have today the phrase ‘YOLO’ – I Believe.
Nathan teaches a great lesson, that to win the focus war, you must dig deep into your enemy, understand him and then fight him.
I have lost the focus war, I keep battling to keep my head on assignments, I keep forgetting to call source X for details on Story Y and before I know it, I’m scooped. In my line of work, focus is everything!
I toggle over tweets when I should be gathering information, I marvel at instagram photos when I should be attending and paying attention to meetings, Facebook posts drain the work mojo out of me and just when I think I’m ready to start working, a foursquare update close to my office comes in and off I go.
The cycle of distraction from social media has gotten to my head and frankly I can’t take any of it. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to keep drafts of my work to listen to a friend wail on my whatsapp – Yes, I get friends are relevant but work is important too. The total sum of all these distractions is that I have lost track of my life. In the past months, I have lost touch with a great deal of sources, some, when we meet, wonder if I still do journalism.
So I went on a house cleaning rota to wipe out distractions.
I am taking a social media break! Yes, you heard right, I will be off my gadgets for a month. I won’t bother reading tweets, updating my facebook or even checking my whatsapp – infact I have de-activated these until I need them again.
I need focus, more so in this month when I have a burning project to complete.
The journey on this break will be a rewarding one, I hope. I intend to revive good old cultured ways of meeting people when I want to see them, sharing coffee, hearing their life stories and not just a 140 character description of how they feel. I hope to gain more human intelligence.
Most importantly, I hope to gain focus of my life and understand the role of social media in it.
We all need this moment in our lives, I’m glad mine is here.
A toast to a journey of a month off social media!