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Why I'm having a digital detox week and giving up everything except Twitter

“Hello, my name is Kerrie Finch and I’m addicted to social media”.

In my experience, the standard response to “How are you?” these days is, “Really busy”. And like a lot of people, I spend too much time on my phone. The daily average time spent on a mobile phone is five hours. Me? It’s closer to nine. Texting, emailing, Instagramming, Tweeting and Facebooking on the go are essentially what gets me through an average work week. As an entrepreneur who runs an international reputation management company with offices in Amsterdam, London, and (soon) LA – and clients across three continents – it’s pretty hard to run my business without social media and my mobile.

Anyone else rethinking how they use social media? It’s not just me who has adopted a self-help detox strategy of one form or another. Leaving Facebook is nothing new, with millennials supposedly leading the charge. For some it’s a little too branded, or too much ‘keeping up with the neighbours’. For others, it’s just not fun when you feel you’re being watched. My nieces opted out when their parents set up a page. Giving up email is also becoming more common, with people like Kathryn Parsons crediting this decision as an excellent way of increasing face to face interaction.

So there’s been an intervention. My esteemed FinchFactor colleagues at our newly opened Influence division have created a social media detox experiment. Rather than using a broad spectrum of everyday digital communication, Twitter is my sole communications platform. Starting today and lasting a full week. With everyone and anyone.

Why? I want to find out what ‘going public’ across one platform will do for both business and relationships, whether it’s instant “Jump through this hoop of fire!” challenges from a favourite client, or “Where are we meeting for dinner Thursday?” from more personal contacts. Will business associates, friends and family respond faster to me when they know my only channel of communication is a public tweet? No, I don’t expect so either.

The intervention team for Twitter Detox Week (think juice detox but really, really hard) has equipped me with a Fitbit to track my stress levels through heart rate and sleeplessness. Mainly, they want to see at which point I break down sobbing into my Periscope-aided Dear Diary video: “It’s just so hard. I feel so alone. So cold and alone. Just 10 minutes, please, to check emails and jump on WhatsApp? I promise I’ll be good."

FinchFactor is a communications business, so I have a pretty good grasp of what is effective. But my experience also shows how far things have come, how much has changed. Business isn’t just done on LinkedIn; it’s a cross-channel media agnostic enterprise. So for me, Twitter Detox Week is an experiment in pushing my boundaries to see what can be learnt from ridding myself of the things that I’ve come to rely on – personally and professionally.

What does Monday morning promise? I’ll be left with just one lonely Twitter app, and will be living by these six sorry rules:

  1. No email from 10am Monday 15 August for one week
  2. Twitter is the only app allowed on my smartphone
  3. No private Twitter messages
  4. A maximum of three phone calls a day
  5. All files must be sent via Twitter or hand delivered
  6. I must adhere to the 140-character limit

Like any addict, I’m absolutely dreading this detox. But I’m also curious to see if it will help me prioritise what I really need, as a business leader, from a digital life. Maybe I’ll make new real life friends. Or I’ll miss a cosmos-shifting Facebook status update. I’ll certainly be looking up more. The team at FinchFactor is looking forward to a week without 2am email brain-dumps, that’s for sure.

Kerrie Finch is founder of FinchFactor. Follow her on Twitter @KerrieFinch or use the hashtag #TwitterDetox to join in with the highs, and lows, of her week-long experiment

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