March 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM ET
Do you feel a sense of anxiety if you haven't checked your social networking feeds in a few hours? Do you look for a way to "like" things you see during a stroll through the city? Have you caught yourself saying "LOL" in real life?
It might be time for a social media detox.
GigaOM recently shared a humorous infographic designed by the folks at Column Five Media. It's a tongue-in-cheek look at the symptoms experienced by an individual in need of a social media detox — and many of us will probably find that we fit one or more of the listed issues.
Personally, the final symptom on the list — offline complex — hit home pretty hard. After several years of working as a tech writer, I've developed a sense of dread each time I check my email, RSS, or Twitter feeds after being offline for a prolonged period of time.
What did I miss? Was there some big news? What if there was an important email while I was disconnected?
I imagine that I'm not the only one who feels such dread occasionally and while I haven't discovered the perfect solution for it just yet, I don't think a total and complete social media detox is the ideal way of dealing with it.
After all, very few people can just go cold turkey when it comes to any habit and come out on top. So instead of detoxing like that, how about creating a personal rule set to keep social media obsessions under control?
For example, I have made it a rule for myself that I won't use my laptop in bed anymore. This means that I'll finish up whatever I'm doing in the evenings and not continue working or doing "just this one more quick little thing" before going to sleep.
I've also begun silencing my phone entirely — instead of just putting it on a low volume or on vibrate — when in the company of those I love. It's a matter of respect — and a way to acknowledge that yes, it's ok to be disconnected from the virtual world while enjoying the real one.
These are little actions — and probably things that I should've been doing all along — but they make a difference and help keep the social media obsession which snuck up on me at a manageable level.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's been at least ten minutes since I last checked Twitter. Something important could've happened in that time.