Merriam-Webster Definition of SOCIAL MEDIA : forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and micro blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).
Some days, I just cannot resist the temptation to check my social media, then check it again. And again. And so on. I think you get the point. What used to be something that I used to check occasionally has now started to take over my life (almost). I don’t want to give up social media completely, if that’s even entirely possible? Now, when I talk about checking my social media, it’s usually with my smartphone, and it has many other uses too. Texting, making calls (naturally), alarm clock, email, watching video, music, games (occasionally), and of course Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and all those other temptations. This craving for social media feels like a virus that’s slowly starting to invade my body, and there’s no known cure. Slowly but surely, and before you realize it, social media methodically starts to consume most of your day. Perhaps, I should put my phone into quarantine, or keep it out of reach. I have tried to resist the temptation to check my social media by removing it and other devices from my desk for a couple of hours and from other places like the bedroom. Inevitably, this form of detachment and my desire to respond to Twitter or Facebook, or check texts and my email is just too great. I have a bad feeling that the more technology advances, it will become even harder to resist this sort of temptation. The essence of technology I think is to make you feel much more connected, which is what social media is all about. Not just staying in touch with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, but by texting and so on. I think our smartphones are now seen as an accepted form of socializing and to a greater extent, impacting on our real socializing. This video on YouTube really sums it up for me I Forgot My Phone (written by Charlene deGuzman) and it’s about a woman’s boyfriend paying no attention to her, as he would rather check his smartphone. Truly an insight into today’s smartphone obsessed culture. You are possibly even watching this video on your smartphone right now.
I have discovered that there is software available to help you with your online habits, or more specifically with social media sites. Firstly, for Apple Mac users there is software called SelfControl which is free and helps you to avoid distracting websites. You just set a period of time to block them for, and add sites to your blacklist. Until that time expires, you are unable to access those sites. Be sure to try the 15 minute test before using it for longer first. For PC users you can try Cold Turkey that enables you to temporarily block sites that are distracting. It’s also possible to block sites on iPhone and iPad. You just go to Settings, then tap on General and then Restrictions. Then you just choose the sites and apps that you want to block. When you want to use them again, you just type in your phone’s password.
When is enough, enough? I check my social media 7 days a week, x amount of hours a day, way too much. There is a song by the Beatles – Eight Days a Week, where they sing about “hold me love me .. eight days a week .. always on my mind ..” and it seems relevant to social media. What seems to work for me now is just finding the right balance or to set myself a routine. You can try to ‘time manage’ yourself or set up a time that doesn’t involve using your phone, laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Try taking the dog for a longer walk, read a book for an hour or so, or anything else to help take your mind off those temptations. Of course, it involves some self control and will power, but don’t lose track of the end result, which is to try and help make your days belong to you once again. I am sure there are lots of other ways that you can think of to help resist the temptations. However, a step more draconian than something like watching grass grow is required. I am not suggesting that you need to find some other drastic measures to help wean you off your social media and technology addiction, such as locking your phone and other devices inside a box forever.
I wonder what if William Shakespeare were alive today, would he have even started to put pen to paper? He probably would have just got too distracted and caught up on social media, and would have spent all of his time on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe Leonardo da Vinci would have snapped pictures on Instagram rather than paint. Who knows.
The thing about social media and it’s distractions is that you don’t have to quit using it all together, I believe that what you need to do, is to just find the right balance. It doesn’t have to be about social media all the time, and as hard as I try, I cannot resist the temptation to use it. I just need to use it less. I don’t think that using social media is going to make me a better or deeper person, but that was never my objective for using it in the first place.
Meanwhile, my social media adventures are still continuing.
Photo from StockSnap