Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rethinking social media

How do you get your news? Facebook? Twitter? An app on your phone for your local newspaper or the USA Today? Do you often find yourself on your phone (even in the car) checking social media for the latest updates from friends? Is your phone or computer time beneficial or a tremendous time waster?

Social media sort of drives me crazy. I like it and I don't. It's great to stay connected to old friends, to see pics of everyday life of those I love and to hear what they are up to, but it can also be a tremendous time suck and distraction. Let's be honest with ourselves. How many "friends" are we actually very close to? How many of them do we really and truly want to know what's going on with and vice versa. If I'm honest with myself, it's a good few dozen and that's it.

I've been feeling a slow pull from the Lord to distance myself from social media outlets. Last year, I took a month long break and it was so helpful; gave me a fresh perspective and was quite shocking to realize how much time I spend on my phone or on the computer. And how life went on without much incident and I wasn't around to "view" it and it was just fine.

At various seasons of my life, I've found it's a big distraction and not in a good way. I find myself checking Facebook news feed to see what others are up to, when I should be playing with my children. Lame. But, what to do? Go offline all together? Many I know have become "Face-Free" and I think that may be the way I'm heading one day. For now, I've set several boundaries for myself and have done a good job sticking to them: checking social media outlets only a couple of times a day, and not when my children are present. They deserve my full attention and investment. I want my life's work to be reflected in them, and not waste the time I have on some silly network (which will eventually be replaced by the next-best thing; remember, Myspace? Me either).

Because I am not feeling ready (for some good reasons) to go "Face-Free," I recently did a few things to "tidy-up" my Facebook and Twitter accounts. These have been life-savers for me.

First, I deleted people who I do not consider close friends and who I have no contact with. This makes sense. I am not truly interested in what a high school friend, who I haven't spoken to since high school, is eating for lunch that day. The same goes for a slew of elementary and junior high friends.

Second, I hid all "push notifications" to my inbox for anything but direct messages to Facebook account. Honestly, do I really care what Jennifer so-and-so (who I do not know) said on my best friend's Facebook page about her new haircut? Do I need to read someone else's comments on a friend's picture of her new baby? Not really. I was finding that such email notifications only cluttered my inbox and distracted me from being present with my kids and focusing on important tasks of my day.

And lastly, I "hid all posts" of Facebook friends who I have very little contact with. These were people who I did want to remain in touch with, but overall, am not very close to and didn't want to keep up daily tabs. It's freeing to not see so much clutter in my news feed and email inbox. I like it!

I found this article by Lindsay of Passionate Homemaking an excellent one on "guarding against technology time wasters."

What suggestions do you have for curbing the onslaught of social media?


  1. You know I think these are great steps to take :) Proud of ya girl!

  2. That's great Suz! I was thinking of cleaning my friend list out lately too. I know for some people it seems like it's not an option but I don't carry my cell most of the time. I just don't want to feel like I have to be tethered to that if I have it. It also drives me crazy lately the number of people with their phones who forget they are in public and interrupt a conversation to answer a call or text someone! It can wait!

  3. such good thoughts and practical suggestions suz. i too have had to learn to limit my time spent online. Lowering it on my priority list and raising other things up.

  4. I agree w/ you Suz. It's something I feel like I'm always having to work on - going through spurts where it feels like it's controlling me more than it. I heard something on NPR and how basically our brains are wired to become "Addicted" to things like this - the constant checking and fact taking in etc. It was pretty interesting, but what stuck with me was the idea that this device was controlling ME. So out of sheer stubbornness do I try and not obsessively check at stop lights or every time I have 5 secs apart from the kids. It's like me giving the whole concept of being owned by my phone the middle finger. :) xooxx

  5. I connected to Facebook when a friend of ours in California invited us. It was really cool at first. Then, I started receiving notices on my iPhone every few hours or so that someone was commenting on someone's photo....some liked it, some didn't, some didn't like the person's hair, then they shared a recipe, and the latest intel on clothes shopping. Engough, already, I said. I unplugged and cancelled my iPhone connection to Facebook. Facebook has been prompting me to come back continuously. I think I will change my email adress and cell phone number. It is a great social media for those who need the constant contact with the outside world. But, for me, it was way over the top....kinda like this post of mine. LOL

  6. I love your thoughts about investing time. It's so easy to sqaunder it and to disconnect from the kids. I find myself being escapist when I'm emotionally worn out. I've been wanting to do the same thing to facebook, slim down a bit on extraneous friends. I'm hardly on facebook (as you know)because I find it mostly overwhelming--too many people! I feel like such a bad friend most of the time, not keeping up with people. But I also feel like if you make the "face-free" choice (I love that it has it's own term), you also need to accept the fact that you're out of the loop (new babies, people engaged, etc.). Anyways, I thought it might actually draw me to facebook a bit more if there wasn't so much extraneous stuff.