It’s happened more than a time or two. And when it does, a little alarm bell goes off in my head.
It starts innocent enough. I sit down at my computer to do something specific. But in order to get to whatever it is I need to accomplish, I have to open up a program…whose icon is nestled in between other icons…who scream for my attention. Sometimes icons scream loud.
Before I know it, I’m whisked away to social-media-land, reading of friends’ dinner plans, why politicians shouldn’t be trusted, gripes about the weather, level 183 of Candy Crush, and general sports smack talk.
And then it happens. I log off, get up from my computer, and begin doing something else, before realizing that I didn’t even begin to do, let alone accomplish, my original task. I’ve been blind-sided by social media, though I saw it the whole time. I’m reminded again at these moments that I’ve reached a tipping point, and it’s time to step away for a while.
I know I’ve reached social media saturation when:
1. What my friends tell me about themselves, I already know.
You remember the assignment, don’t you? It was normally given the first week of each grade school year – “What I Did On My Summer Vacation.” Who knew Facebook would make a traditional grade school paper irrelevant? Mrs. Teacher probably already knows more about your summer vacation than you could imagine. If you don’t believe it, she’ll show you your pictures of the Grand Canyon on her smartphone.
Social media has a way of zapping wonder. Knowing everything sounds good, but it can be a relationship drag. The best conversations are filled with curiosity, the unknown, and discovery. Social media can rob us of these things. When it does, it’s time to unplug.
2. I begin to compare myself to others, and feel frustrated.
Social media tends to be a highlight reel. But life isn’t touchdowns all the time. There are penalties, blown plays, turnovers, and losses. Rarely do these things trend online, though.
Social media reveals people’s lives, but not the reality of their lives. We only see a snapshot. A chosen portion of a multi-faceted existence. That’s what makes comparison so unwise. If we read of others’ experiences and suddenly devalue our own, thinking somehow they don’t measure up, we’re forgetting we’re seeing a part of a whole.
Status updates can be glamorous. But it’s hard to compete with Photoshop. Don’t even try.
3. It becomes one of the first and last things of the day.
I get up early most days. Why should I subject myself to reading about someone’s amazing snickerdoodle cookies at 5:00am? Now, I like tasty treats and all, but is that really the best focal point for my day? And does someone teeing off on Congress or the President really serve as the best capstone for the day, preparing me for a restful sleep?
The bottom line is this – social media can easily become mental clutter. Facts, and stats, and articles, and arguments. Things that titillate the intellect, but pollute crucial segments of the day. Let’s take back our first and last moments. It’s OK not to know.
So what do we do when we’re saturated with social media?
- Cut it off for “x” amount of days. *
- Delete the apps (OK, breathe…it’s going to be alright…you can re-install them later).
Intentionally do without. Will it be hard? Yes. Will you make it? Yes. And you might discover something about yourself, and others, in the process.
* I’ll be dropping off the social media grid from January 20-29, 2014. 10 days. You’re invited to join me.