My Social Media Vacation

4 Sep

A failed, or not, experiment

Cousins at CampThis weekend, I took a vacation from social media.  Over Labor Day weekend, my family resumed a long-standing tradition to attend family camp with our cousins.  It’s the kind of place where you’re perpetually dirty and the big event of the day is a game of ultimate Frisbee.  Where you actually sit and talk with your grandparents about what it was like when they were kids and interact with your parents like they’re your friends.  It’s great.

And it’s been great since I was a kid.  Since before there was social media.  Since before Facebook had even been thought of.  (Although I’m sure that, if pressed in a law suit, Mark Zuckerburg would say that he had been tinkering with the idea even back then.)  So, I figured that if I had loved camp without social media then, I would love camp without social media now.  I took getting away for the weekend as an opportunity to unplug for the weekend, too.  (Of course, I still brought my laptop, because I can’t unplug completely.  It’s my hard and clunky security blanket.)
Oak Cove looking out over the lakeI thought that I’d use my laptop to write.  Sitting by the lodge in the morning, overlooking the lake with a cup of coffee next to me.  (Incidentally, that’s exactly what I’m doing right now and it’s fantastic.)  I thought there wouldn’t be internet access, but I was wrong.  Actually, they’ve got a pretty good wireless set-up here.  (Somehow, that fact is strangely disappointing – some places aren’t meant to change with the times.)  Even with wireless network access, I resisted.  I left my laptop in my cabin and went off to just be.  But you know who intervened and pulled me back into social media?  My Gramma.

A few family friends joined us at camp.  We hadn’t seen them in a years, and they brought pictures of events in the intervening events – their daughters’ wedding, a time they saw other mutual friends, a crazy dance party.  Well, we hadn’t brought any pictures and Gramma wanted to show what we had been up to.  Solution: Maggie’s Facebook albums.

Luau PartySo, there I am at camp with my Gramma narrating my Facebook albums, talking everyone through pictures of my parents’ luau-themed surprise anniversary party.  Maybe it’s not how family camp was intended to go.  (Somehow, I don’t think that they’ll list that activity on a brochure for the place.)  But, with or without Facebook, it amounted to the same thing, spending the night with my family laughing over old family stories.

Gramma and GrampaWhat I learned: social media’s not just a distraction.  It’s a medium, not a message.  Clicking through Facebook pictures with my Gramma is no different than rifling through a pile of pictures.  It’s better even, because then she gets to see comments on them, like my sister’s: “Best Gramma ever.”

Questions of the day: Have you ever taken a social media vacation?  Did you stick to it?  Does your Gramma know that you think she’s the best Gramma ever?  (Maybe you should tell her – ideally not through a Facebook comment.)

MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

4 Responses to “My Social Media Vacation”

  1. JSD September 4, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    I’ll answer this from the other end of the spectrum. I’m the grandma, and I have been doing all these things you’re talking about. I’m trying to bring some of my siblings and my children up to speed. I try periodically to take a social media vacation (or break), and it’s hard but well worth the effort (I can’t let go of my cell phone, though).
    And I do use Facebook and one of my blogs to honor my Grandmother, Grandfather, my Dad, and all of the previous generations in our family.
    Thanks for the post.

  2. georgettesullins September 4, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    JSD, I love you. You sound like my mother…I’m 6? and she is 8?. It was she who brought me to the computer and she keeps up with my blog as often as I post. She taught an online course before me, and now I’m doing it. You are an inspiration.
    Maggie, so glad you are finding just the retreat that can rival your other love. Have a fabulous Labor Day weekend!

  3. jamieahughes September 6, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I think there is a fine balance to be struck between technology and “real world” interaction. Because of FB, I’ve managed to rekindle so many old friendships and keep up with folks I might have missed sharing time with otherwise. However, it can all become too much sometimes.

    The recent commercial with the parents mountain biking and the daughter who says that having 5oo friends is “living” as she contemplates whether or not the tiny dog in a friend’s photo is a “real puppy” sums it up pretty well. If you can go see the dog and talk to your friend while letting it chew your shoelaces, that is preferable. However, for those times when real “face time” isn’t an option, social media has great value. Like everything, moderation is the key! Thanks for a revealing and thought provoking post Labor-day blog. 🙂

  4. plantainperiodicals September 9, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    I’ve taken social media breaks but as you say the world is just moving forward and instead of pics in hands, we can flick through facebook.

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