Marc Hartzman is mild-mannered group creative director at agency KBS+ by day, anti-social networking activist by night.
The creative is the author of “The Anti-Social Network Journal,” which urges people to rethink our obsession with all things social media. The book is laid out like a journal, complete with blank spaces meant to encourage readers to take to the paper and pen to physically write out tweet and post-length entries. And in conjunction with the book, Hartzman has declared today “Social Media Blackout Day.” (Of course, even anti-social networking activists need to get their message out. Hartzman himself is a Twitter user, although he has just 133 followers.)
The idea is to get people to step away from social media for 24 hours and return to the physical world and do anything that has become less commonplace since social media took over our lives — call a friend, look someone in the eye. Look for the hashtag #SocialMediaBlackoutDay — OK, that will be hard to do if you’re officially observing the blackout — that will accompany worksheets, tips, and lists of what to do during the blackout.
Hartzman offered a few pointers to Digiday in a brief interview. Excerpts:
Social media is integral to your job. What prompted you to come up with this?
Obviously I’m in this business because I like being creative and making things. Social media is definitely a platform that aids that and gives us new ways to be innovative with clients. But this book stems out of the addiction we all have. My job aside, I often find myself going through mindless Facebook feeds filled with stuff that I don’t really care about. I could be so much more productive than going through what people ate for dinner or what they’re watching on TV right now. This was just an attempt to say we should step back and not make everything so public.
So you’re asking everyone to cleanse themselves of social media for a day?
That is what I’m hoping for, yes. Take a step back and realize that there’s a physical world out there that they can can enjoy — talk to friends in person, hear their voices. I’m hoping people refresh and remind themselves that it’s not necessary to be connected all the time, it’s okay to be unplugged for 24 hours.
Do you think that this message will resonate or is this just a gimmick?
For people who didn’t grow up with social media, it will be a bit more easy to step back and remind themselves to not be plugged in constantly and not check their profiles and update their statuses. But I think for the younger generation, I hope that they at least try to take a break and then realize that they can survive without it. I’ve heard from people who turn off from Facebook and find how refreshing that can be. There’s no pressure to always have something clever to say. There’s this weird social pressure that we’ve all put on to ourselves.
But if the goal is to get people off social media, why use a hashtag?
You have to speak to the audience where they are. If we went completely against social media, we wouldn’t get the word out enough. It’s not that social media is all bad, it has its benefits and one of the biggest ones is that it can reach people in a mass way and we need to take advantage of that. You can get back on it the next day, we’re not asking you to stay off it forever.
So what are you asking?
For me this was a fun, creative endeavor. I hope it sells well and that people adopt it and love it and maybe take some of the thoughts to heart. I also hope that it spurs creativity for other people and encourages them to write, create and have their own ideas.
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