I’m still living in a tent, on an island in Norway. I’m still without electricity and without access to the Internet (other than via my iPhone). It’s been sunny, but today, it’s raining. And, I have realized that being offline 99% of the time for close to two weeks has been an interesting experience.
Now, walking along the beach, alone, looking at the rain, and listening to the waves, my mind drifts away.
It’s raining. I’m walking. I spot a church from a distance. I stop. No. It’s not a church, just a very old building that used to be white.
I’m standing in the rain, feeling cold, and looking at the sky. I’m not waiting for the sun, I’m just realizing that I have to adopt to nature. So, I close my eyes, and it’s like I can feel the wind grabbing me, lifting me up, and taking me to someplace else. I can still feel the raindrops touching my face, one by one, but it’s now dark. I am surrounded by complete darkness.
I can’t hear any sound. I can’t see anything at all. I feel like I am locked inside an empty room.
I try my best to not make a sound. I am just standing completely still. I don’t want anybody to notice me. But, I have the feeling that somebody can see me, and that they can hear me if I move. They are watching me, but I am surrounded by complete darkness and I can’t see them.
I feel that I am surrounded, but at the same time, I feel that I am all alone. Then, listening, I can hear voices from a distance. Two people talking, then three, four people, they are all talking. They are talking about me. I can’t hear my name, but I understand what they are saying. They are whispering.
“Where is he?”
“What’s his name again?”
I open my eyes. And I am back, at the beach, with a fantastic view overlooking the ocean. The seagulls have become my friends, and the raindrops feels like the best massage this world can offer against my skin.
Online Relationships are Different
There’s a reason why I was surrounded by complete darkness, and there’s a reason I heard people talking.
We have many benefits working online, and it’s like our business is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week all year long. We don’t have any doors, and if we did, it’s like they never closes. But, online business is still about relationships and building trust among people. And, it’s about being there for our friends, and being there for our customers.
I have thought a lot about being away, offline, for the past two weeks. I don’t have a business online, and people don’t rely on me being online all the time. But, at the same time, it’s like I should be online, at least for a few minutes every single day.
I believe that online relationships can be even better and stronger than offline relationships, especially after listening to Gary Vaynerchuck at a marketing conference. But, I am also asking myself if online relationships can last as long as offline relationships if we don’t invest a lot of time and effort.
Many people don’t subscribe to a website via RSS, or via email, and many people don’t leave comments, but we’ve still created a relationship through my writing. When no words get published in weeks, what will happen to our relationship?
Will it be like when I’m out walking and I meet an old friend, we just nod to each other and keep walking, or will we both smile from a distance, then stop and start talking, like we never were apart?
How Long is Too Long?
I still remember a few fantastic bloggers that I have stopped following. I can’t remember their names anymore. And I have no idea what they’re doing now. They stopped publishing. That’s what happened.
A blog is like a business, no matter if we’re earning money from it or not. We need to continue to add value, and we need to be personal.
When I ask, how long is too long, I’m thinking about a vacation away from it all. I’m living in a tent, but still, I’m at the public library once a week to publish a blog post and to continue “talk” with my friends online. But, if I didn’t do this, how long could I be completely offline, before you stopped caring, before you stopped thinking about me?
It depends. That’s my answer. We create strong relationships to some, and being offline for two weeks won’t do any harm. I don’t believe four or five weeks offline will make any difference either, but that’s for the strong relationships. Most of the relationships I have created online are weak, and I believe that four weeks or more offline can actually do a lot of harm. I have no experience or statistics showing me any evidence to support this claim, but it’s just a feeling.
I would love to get your thoughts on this. A lot of people told me that when they’re on vacation, they’re on vacation and they are not writing at all. But, I have a feeling that when they say vacation, they’re talking about 1 week or maybe 2 weeks.
What do you think? How long could you stay completely offline? Remember, you’re not on Twitter, you’re not on Facebook, and you’re not answering email or anything. You’re just relaxing away from the computer.
So, how long can you stay offline without it hurting your “business”?