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5 Selfish Things I Learned from the #Shutdown

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the Communication Shutdown

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?

Leave a comment

I’d love to hear your story or thoughts on mine.

However, to prevent the massive amounts of spam I was receiving I have turned off comments on any post older than 5 days old. If you'd like to leave me a note regarding this post or anything really try me on twitter (@RoniNoone,) my Facebook page, or even IG (@RoniNoone) I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I never thought I'd have to do this but it's gotten way out of hand and comment management has become simply too time consuming to manage.


There are 4 comments so far.


    November 2, 2010

    I did participate. My son has autism, he’s 7, so when I heard about this from you and Ryan I thought it was great idea. I don’t know how many of my friends actually participated but when I checked back this morning there weren’t as many notifications as I’d usually see, so I’m assuming there were some that did. I have to say, it was harder than I thought it would be. I purposely logged off both sites so I couldn’t just click and be on. I found myself going to the computer and sitting down without even thinking about it. And the phone! That was even harder, I think. But it did make me aware, for sure. Thanks for participating and putting it out there. Your audience is much bigger than mine, and I appreciate it.

    Zena Weist

    November 2, 2010

    Roni, thanks for taking part in Communication Shutdown for Autism Awareness and sharing your experience with us. Our son is 12 and has autism. He was diagnosed at 2 1/2. The county early developmental team working with us at the time said that he would never be able to attend a typical school setting because he was mostly non-verbal and had so many delays. They told us to plan for in-home schooling, etc.

    Well, our son’s story is one of challenging the labels and the “low” expectations. We made our own game plan with the help of many a therapist/teacher and lots of loving repetition and I’m happy to say our 12 yr old is in a typical school setting without para support. We have our moments but we are moving forward every day.

    He and I discussed yesterday’s Communication Shutdown and he was thrilled about the worldwide effort to (as their charter says) create “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 recognize those in the autism community already have.”

    He saw me sit down at the laptop and start up tweetdeck (by habit) while he was working through homework last night. I told him, “Oh man, do I ever want to get on Twitter and share this news…but I can’t.”

    His reply, “Now you know how I feel about 87% of the time, Mom.” And he smiled adding, “This is a good.”


    November 2, 2010

    “No one missed me.” That one I can really relate to, especially when I wonder why I do all of this. If I’m not engaging on Twitter, it’s unlikely that people will randomly tweet at me. But I also crave the interaction with my Twitter friends. New world, I guess….

    Donna D

    November 4, 2010

    “Social media is my water cooler.”

    I love this. I think it is mine too, and that is my problem, as I have multiple water coolers already in my day job!

    I am thinking about redefining the way that I use social media, Twitter, etc. I was engaged in a “debate” the other day that I realised many of the others at the “water cooler” did not appreciate. I was wondering how, or if, I should relook at the way I use the tools we have at our disposal.

    Maybe a break is just what I need. One thing I know is that you can do a charity event even not on the main days. Maybe I’ll do my own shutdown, and make a donation to an autism charity, as I ponder my SM use…

    Thanks for the idea and the reflections!