With social media becoming mainstream, and people embracing every new network for personal or business reasons, there’s a lot of clutter in our lives. Facebook users check their status first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Email takes up 28% of the average office worker’s day, but social media use is become even more pervasive. And it’s now being seen as a problem for many users.
At a conference I emceed recently, two of the major presentations revolved around our need to be unplugged and the physical and emotional perils of social media addiction.
The first speaker spoke about unplugging from the social web, and when we are plugged in, to have a purpose. The second day keynote was a discussion of social media addiction, Korean Social Media Rehabs, and the possible damage that being over connected can have on our minds and our bodies.
This need to be thoughtful about how we spend our time is not new, its just something we need to remember. Ecclesiastes (repeated by the 60′s rock Group The Byrds and the 1984 movie “Footlose”) ) tells us, “to every thing there is a season”. Technology of any sort is the proof of that. The seasons are obvious when we look. We investigate first. Then we adopt, at first timidly, then with gusto. And then we integrate our lives, until, in many cases, we become so engaged that we recognize that we may need to back off.
It happened with television, cell phones, computer games, and now, social engagement on the web. Each appeared as a novelty, had wide spread adoption, then became ubiquitous , then a matter of concern for users. Like a child with a new favorite game, we play it again and again until we tire of it, and then, if it is truly something that we enjoy, we learn to use it in moderation.
Obviously being thoughtful about social media is the key to any level of engagement. The web is immense and we desire to fill it with our contributions to the ongoing conversation. So let’s look at what we can do to make the time we spend enjoyable and productive.
- Start With a Purpose - If your online engagement has a business purpose, first determine what it is, and which channels are most effective for achieving your goals. If you are only online for social purposes, figure out what makes you happy and determine how much of your leisure you want to spend doing that. Like any other social activity, you need to allocate the time you can spend, considering the needs fo your business and family- what’s left is yours.
- Prioritize your online time . E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all of our other online engagements have different purposes – now that you have determine what you want to accomplish, it becomes easier to choose your battles. You don’t have to be everywhere because your customers or clients aren’t .
- Set aside time for offline engagement. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but someone needs to tell you that most texts or phone calls can wait until after you son’s game, your date night, or the movie. You have voice mail for a reason, and you need to remember that in most cases, the people you are with are more important than that message from a distance. Whatever is going on at Facebook will still be there when you arrive its the internet people, you aren’t going to miss anything you can’t read about later.
- Be Here Now. This simple statement was the title of a 1971 book written by Baba Ram Dass and contains a message of importance that transcends the decades since its publication.The really significant moments of our lives happen off-line. It would be tragic to miss them because you were hiding out on Facebook. Spend some time with your friends and family doing things in the physical world. You can let your online community know when you need to unplug. You’ll be better for it, and they will understand your absence and not confuse it with a complete withdrawal.
Addicted or not, these simple suggestions can help you organize your online presence effectively , and without detracting from the value of your online engagement. In fact, they might even help increase it. What do you think?