Last June we broke up with social media. For five months we vowed to stop posting on our feed/wall, responding to direct messages and advertising our products. We quit. We wanted to focus more of our time and attention on the things that mattered most and to do it in a way that felt like a good fit for us (see our past blog post here with all of the details).
We have now come to the end of our official social media sabbatical. Since many people have asked how it went, I (Josh) want to share my experience which, in true Fika fashion, includes a story and a few additional thoughts that came up as I reflected on our sabbatical.
So, how was it? The short answer is that it was great. It has been a relief not having the pressure to maintain a social media presence (can you even really be present to a moment when on social media?). Our summer was packed full of Fika at it’s finest: reconnecting with friends in the shop, boxing up and shipping out an incredible amount of coffee to our online community and wholesale partners and just enjoying each other. Not having to commit to maintaining a social media calendar was a great thing. It allowed me to put my attention and energy elsewhere in the business, places where it was, and is, needed more.
On the business side of things, we didn't notice many negative impacts. Our online orders were still increasing and our community was still engaging with us... just through other avenues (in the cafe, at events, through our newsletter, etc), which happen to be the ones we enjoy most.
Through this experience I have confirmed that pulling away from social media has been healthy for us. As we move forward we will more or less keep doing what we did all summer with our social media accounts:
- Our accounts will all stay open, but they will not be our primary means of communication. We won’t be replying to direct messages in Facebook or Instagram, so if you want to reach out (and we would love that!) please email, mail, or call us (our contact information can be found on the Fika Coffee Website).
- No social media advertising. We will not be buying your attention on social media to sell our coffee. It just doesn't feel right to us.
- We won’t be regularly posting to our feed/wall, but we will share as we feel inspired. Since our mission is to create and share stories and we have lots of ideas for funny videos, I expect you’ll see some activity. However, we’re not digging our social media calendar out of the trash and our posting won’t be influenced the insights/statistics that we get from Facebook and Instagram.
- We may also share some of YOUR stories. You are more than a Fika Coffee supporter/consumer - you are a friend who has a story to share and discover. You are Fika just as much as I am.
Speaking of stories, I have one to share:
One of my favorite spots along Lake Superior is the curve by Cutface Creek on Highway 61, about 5 miles west of Grand Marais. It has a great view of the lake, big cliffs that hug the highway, a distant view of Grand Marais and stunning boreal forest surrounding it. For a short period during early winter, and again in late winter, the sun peeks out over the horizon of Lake Superior right about the time I’m driving around the curve on my way to the cafe.
A few weeks back I was driving around it on my way from Lusten to Grand Marais. It was a fall day with clouds hugging the lake. They hung so low it looked as if they were sitting on top of the lake. As I approached the curve, I saw three different parties pulled over in the viewing area along the road. I noticed that every single person was taking in the moment through their phone. I wondered if the photos they were taking would soon be lost among thousands of other photos on their phones.
I don’t want to be separated from what’s in front of me like the people at the curve seemed to be that day. I don’t want to be distracted from what’s important to me. I want to slow down, enjoy the moment, take in the beauty and create something that brings value to me and those around me. Curating a life on social media has not, and I assume will never, allow me to do that.
Our recent social media sabbatical has given me the space to confirm these feelings. It has also given me space to formulate other thoughts, including thoughts on attention, limits and becoming that I want to leave you with:
We all have a given amount of energy or attention that we can give to something (an activity, person, job, etc). In other words, our attention is a finite resource. Many companies, including many social media companies, are building their software with this in mind. Its called the “Attention Economy”. Software companies are capitalizing on the information they know about our finite attention resources to buy and sell our attention. Unfortunately, those companies don’t always have our best interest in mind.
If we are not intentional about choosing where we put our attention, we allow it to be chosen for us. Couple that with the idea that we need to pour focused attention into something to do it well, and it all becomes really troubling to me. I honestly don’t want to be an active part of someone’s attention being robbed, tricked or bought from them. Being intentional about my/Fika’s social media use is one way I can avoid contributing to that.
Second is the idea of limits. We all have limits. There are limits that we all share - one being the number of hours we have in a day. Then there are other limits that vary from person to person, like where we were born, the family we were born into, the city we live in, the culture that surrounds us.
I think it is important to have an accurate understanding of our limits so that we work inside of and grow within them. Growth is important for people and healthy, sustained growth comes from an accurate understanding of our limits. It can be easy for us to find ways to create systems that allow us to think and live outside of our limits. Sometimes expanding beyond certain limits is beneficial, and sometimes it isn’t
One limit I’ve been thinking a lot about is people, especially here in Cook County. This county is small - there are about 5,000 people and only a small percentage of those people can work. Over the last 20 plus years Cook County has found a way to grow, operate, and live outside of this limit of the given workforce by creating a program to recruit workers from outside of Cook County, often outside of the United States. I wonder if we’re becoming someone or something we didn’t originally intend to be when we operate outside our limits.
This brings me to my third and final thought: Becoming. I often ask myself who I am becoming. Who am I becoming as a husband, father, friend, employer. Who is Fika becoming as a business on Highway 61 in Cook County? Who are the employees of Fika becoming in relation to Fika's path? Am I being intentional about Fika and the path that it is on? Is it on a healthy and sustainable path right now? Is it going in the right direction to be a healthy business 15 years down the road?
It's important that I understand the limits around myself and Fika, which of those limits I have the ability to grow, strengthen and expand and those limits that are completely outside of my influence.
Before I close, I’d like to challenge you to begin (or continue) to ask yourself the same question: Who are you becoming?