Yesterday I participated in the Communication Shutdown to help raise awareness for autism. From their website…
Our aim is to simply encourage a greater understanding from people outside the autism community. Social network users have become reliant and even addicted to platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And if they shutdown for 1 day, they will feel a sense of disconnection and a sense of frustration. By creating a little empathy, we hope to encourage a wider understanding and acceptance of people with autism – an understanding we recognise those in the autism community already have.
I decided to join and contribute to the fundraiser as soon as I was made aware of it Monday morning. I have a niece with learning disabilities (her condition is not quite characterized as autism although there are some similarities) and I’m still learning how to communicate with her. Sometimes it’s quite challenging.
In this new media world I also thought the fundraiser was simply genius. They haven’t released any figures from the campaign yet but if you were online and active in the social media community you couldn’t miss the crossed out icons and status updates with the hash tag #shutdown. At least I couldn’t.
Regardless, I made my donation and changed my status update to let everyone know I’d be offline for the day for the fundraiser. It made me feel good to participate but as Joey from friends said, " It made you feel good, so that makes it selfish. Look, there’s no unselfish good deeds, sorry."
The older I get the more I agree with him. Here’s the self things I learned from disconnecting for a day.
Social Media is Central to my Communication Style.
I didn’t realize how much I use twitter to contact friends and collegues. Little notes that don’t warrant an email or a simple heads up to a friend I completed a task they were waiting for. I found myself sending emails instead and it seemed clunky and cumbersome. Imagine if I had to actually CALL them or even write a letter. I’ve grown accustom to the immediacy of social media as a communication tool.
My Traffic Didn’t Plummet!
I really thought my site traffic would suffer from the lack of social media marketing but I noticed no substantial dips in any of my site statistics. It made me feel a bit more confident about my sites content and regular readers.
Social Media Fills a Void in My Life.
I had to fight urges to tweet a random thought about what I was watching on TV or reading on the web. I work alone at home and social media is my water cooler. It is my connection to the outside world when I can’t go outside.
No One Missed Me and That’s Ok.
The twitter stream continued. Facebook statuses were updated. No one cared I wasn’t around. It’s not that I didn’t already know this but it’s good to be reminded now and then that you are not the center of the universe.
I Can Live Without It, I Really Can…
but I don’t want to. I’ve formed relationships on twitter. I’m friends with blog readers on Facebook. These are people I don’t know in real life and may never meet in person but we have a connection. I missed seeing their status updates and reading their random thoughts. Those not active in social media may not understand but to me this is no different then seeing familiar faces at your local coffee shop or pub. You may not hold detailed conversations with each person but the familiarity of their faces and the polite nod to say hello is comforting and lets you know you are at home and welcomed.
Overall I’m glad I participated. I not only did my part to raise awareness for autism but I was also reminded how lucky I am to live is such exciting times and have the ability to take advantage of it.
Did anyone else participate? What are your thoughts?