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Take a Beat

As Karl the Fog rolls into the Richmond today, I can't help but reflect on the ups and downs of this past summer.

"I am such a #GoodBoy," Linus retweeted.

I happened to take a 36-hour hiatus from Twitter about the same time that New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who covers the Trump administration, announced that she was stepping back from the platform, citing its increasing toxicity. Granted, that time coincided with a mid-week overnight trip to Southern California, where my most important tasks on the beach were creating shade for Linus and checking my personal prejudices about who can and can’t rock a two-piece swimming suit these days. So I had reason to feel great. The trip was a gift from a friend, and it seemed rude to check social media and not fully immerse myself in the mutual enjoyment of our quickie escape. But stepping back from social media, and taking two mornings to not immediately check the news upon waking, did just as much if not more for my outlook than the relentless sunshine (HT to @KarlTheFog). This is what I learned. It is not an act of professional malpractice to take a day off from checking the news. “Staying up to date” doesn’t need to happen in real time. I was no less informed when I re-entered the news cycle, just less agitated. If the world is truly falling apart, you’ll eventually hear about it. Newsflash: fewer people on Twitter need my curating and comments than I probably think. I didn’t lose followers, or lose touch. I just gained some perspective. World and national events proceeded just fine without me. Yeah, I know, pretty humbling. What I consider engagement on social media is perhaps not moving the needle on issues that I care about, at least in the way I once thought it did. Social media and its role as a purveyor of “fake news” is under intense scrutiny. This summer, Facebook stock dropped 19% and the company lost $120 billion in value. Twitter’s stock fell when it purged the service of 70 million suspect accounts. I’ve been a huge fan of Twitter and what it can accomplish. But it’s time to reevaluate our personal social media habits. Are they adding value? What needs rethinking? Do yourself a favor and forget to take your phone the next time you run an errand. Or set aside specific hours when social media is off limits. Establish a social media Sabbath. See what happens when you take a break.


Susan Kostal is a legal marketing consultant and content strategist located in San Francisco Bay Area. Find her monthly column on Attorney at Work & check out more great content here. This post originally appeared in Susan Kostal's Legal Marketing Bits & Bites Newsletter. Sign up for more content here.

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