I cringed as I stared at my calendar for the next few weeks. Writing gig on Monday night. Down night on Tuesday. Host a cookout for colleagues on Wednesday. Starbucks night on Thursday night. Luncheon at work on Friday that required the preparation of a dessert on Thursday night. Rinse and repeat in a similar fashion the next couple of weeks. Whew! Too much for anyone.
Something had to go, but what?
For me, the was easy.
Time to go silent on social media.
I’ve done that before. Like when Steve had his surgery, taking care of him, the house, and the dogs took priority over updating everyone about my life.
I think it’s important when to know to let go of social media, like when:
- There’s no time. That may see like a “duh” moment, but when done right, especially by writers with other jobs or even writers whose sole occupation is writing, social media takes time, at least half an hour a day, many times more.
- It adds even more stress to life. There have been times in my past where I find my life is so full that the thought of adding anything more to it stresses me out. And sometimes, working on social media is that something that throws me over the edge.
- It impacts the day job. Fortunately, this has never been a problem for me, but for those who are sole proprietors whose livelihood depends on their work, allocating too much time to social media can create a large impact on their income if it doesn't directly relate to their work.
- It impacts time with family and friends. Many people say Facebook and other social media platforms have communities on them. I won’t disagree with that, but it can wind up replacing real, breathing community right in front of us, be it our friends, family, church, or other organization.
- It becomes an addiction. Yes, this is a very clear and present danger in social media addiction. When addiction occurs, the user neglects those relationships that are the most important. Friendships may dry up in favor of virtual ones. Children may feel neglected because Mom or Dad is more interested in what’s happening with their virtual friends than listening to problems at school. Marriages can die slowly if a spouse feels neglected due to social media.
How do I go silent on social media when I need to?
- I commit to the decision to stay off for a certain period of time. This is the first, biggest, and hardest step. It seems simple, but I know it’s hard. I have to accept the fact I’m not going to be privy to everyone’s updates. I have to trust those who truly care about me will keep up with me by e-mail, a call, a text, or hanging out with me.
- I leave it outside the bedroom. Never mind what light at the high end of the spectrum right before bedtime does to my sleep patterns. If I’m on social media then, it keeps my mind churning. I don’t sleep well. Leaving my phone outside the bedroom is one way to help with a good sleep.
- I turn it off. It’s like above but with a twist. Checking social media is a knee-jerk response, which plays right into the hand of those who produce the platforms. By turning my phone off, it eliminates any temptation I have to check it before heading to bed. Right now, we have a landline for emergencies, but when we go to cell phones only, I’ll have to reexamine how to handle my phone.
- I can use a “dumb phone.” I have to admit, my smartphone can make my life easier, and right now, I do need it for work. However, my husband recognized his addiction to his phone and wound up getting a flip phone, which he cheerfully calls a dumb phone.
- I can delete apps. I firmly believe that phone games and social media can have a negative impact. Last year when we were on vacation, I wiled away hours playing solitaire and wasted too much time with a game rather than spend it with Steve or reading a good book.
While social media can be fun and interesting, I firmly believe that radio silence when life gets too hectic relieves stress. We have to take it on faith that those who are important in our lives will keep up with us, even without posts, updates, pictures, or tweets. Deploying wisdom results in the understanding of when social media takes over our lives and what to do about it.
Questions: When have you noticed social media overtaking your life? How did you remedy the situation?