Thursday 08 December 2016

Friday Five: This Social Media Life

Why It Matters by Alicia Herczeg

I work in social media, clearly. You found me on this blog, didn’t you? And what I’m about to say is absolutely necessary. Social media is wonderful, but I don’t need to tell you that. You’ve heard it all before and probably love it just as much as the next trending animated GIF.

But I am here to talk about the larger question which looms from our rapid and pervasive integration of all things digital and social: how do we disconnect?

A long vacation to a remote island or mountain range should not be the only occasion to embrace a world away from the digital space. For our own sanity, happiness and ultimately our productivity, we need to become pros at not only turning on engaging social strategies, but also at turning off the constant flood of information and compulsion to be a part of it. Below are five excuses you should never use when you find yourself firing up your favorite app on your smart device when the real world is begging for your attention.

1. I’m Going To Miss Something

News travels fast, even outside of social, and if it is that big and important you will hear about it. I have never heard of anyone regretting missing a status update because they were too busy living. I can’t say the same of the reverse. And, all that you think you’re missing out on will always be waiting for you when you return.

2. People Want To Hear From Me

Sometimes. We love to hear about the newborn on the way or see the pictures from the trip abroad. Even the occasional commentary about the newest episode of The Bachelor can be entertaining. But indigestion from this morning’s breakfast is fascinating to no one but you and your small intestine. We are all guilty of the narcissism social media so easily lends itself to, but the compulsion to share even the banal moments of our existence with our communities is a nasty virus that wastes your time and everyone else’s attention. Keep that not-so-riveting chatter to yourself and win back the time you were devoting to crafting something “witty” in 140 characters. Your followers will thank you, too.

3. I’m Just Bored

Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote in Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, or roughly just under three hours each day for the next ten years. It seems like a big time commitment, but think about the minutes and hours spent each day scrolling endlessly through social media channels due to self-proclaimed “boredom.” Putting that energy towards something more rewarding might not only make you a better painter or violinist, but diversifying your interests can also have positive impacts on your work by revealing new approaches and modes of thought. And don’t worry if you need help reining in your aimless social wandering – there’s an app for that. Remember, everyone is more interesting with hidden talents.

4. It’s My Only Way To Stay In Touch

While this may be true for the high school friends you no longer see who have also mysteriously fallen out of your phone contacts… wait, let’s stop there. The ease of social media has built up our reliance on these platforms as a dominant means to connect with one another, especially with those long lost friends we still like to stealthily keep tabs on. But anyone will tell you that social media has its limitations in creating authentic and meaningful connections. Social can bolster and support efforts, but the real experiences are what we remember and activate around. Pick up the phone, have a real conversation and remember what it is like to hear a voice on the other end. Your grandma will be tickled to hear from you.

5. I Have To Check My Notifications

In the world of instant gratification, nothing may be better than watching your community immediately engage with your posts. Look, I’m so insightful and clever.  Awesome, but here’s some advice; turn off the push notifications every now and then. Nothing is so important or intriguing that you need an immediate alert banner across your phone distracting your attention from the present task at hand. You could miss that left turn, a fly ball or a question from the boss. So let sleeping phones lie. Or, if you must, save them all up to read at the end of the day – it’s like a social sharing Christmas morning!

The bottom line is that the digital world is here to stay and it is our task to find new ways to let it enhance, not distract, our lives. If we can do that, I think we will find we are better employees, neighbors, friends and families. What are some methods you employ to disconnect in a constantly connected world?

I Like image courtesy of BigStock.

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