Recently, I’ve been experimenting with the way I consume, create and connect using social media.
What started out as a tool that was supposed to bring us together has turned into something we didn’t expect. Now, I’m the biggest advocate of all when it comes to social media. So much so, that I’ve dedicated most of my career to it.
This post is not designed to get you to delete social media and go and live off-grid, away from the Internet, on a farm, with no car and no connection to the community around you.
The point is to get you to rethink your social media usage.
These are the 4 burdens of social media:
Responding to comments
One of my coaching clients said to me the other day “How do you find time to respond to all of the comments you get online?”
I told him “I don’t.”
This is a new thing for me. If I go back six months, I was responding to every comment I got. It’s no secret that by responding to comments on social media in real-time, you get more engagement on your posts.
So yes, commenting is good if you are building an audience and want more people to see your work, but on the downside, you become a slave to comments.
The other challenge with comments is that you will get trolls and people that say nasty stuff. No matter how hard you try, some of them will affect your mindset, motivation or even your mood.
This is why I have drastically reduced the comments I respond to. I still engage and support people that like my work, I just do it less.
This leaves me more time to create, which ultimately provides more value than a reply to a comment.
Liking people’s posts
Social media also brings on the expectation that you’re supposed to like people’s posts who supported you, are your family or maybe even your work colleagues or friends.
I always like to support other people’s work, but I disagree with people expecting me to. Some posts just don’t resonate with me and that’s why I don’t reshare them even if they are my friends, colleagues or even super fans of my work.
Responding to direct messages
“Instant messaging has been the bane of my existence. It’s like a meeting that never ends”
Now everyone can reach me. This might seem like it makes us more connected but I don’t feel it does. Instead, it takes up huge amounts of time to respond to direct messages. A lot of the ones I get have ‘asks’ attached to them.
There’s nothing wrong with an ‘ask’ through social media but if you don’t know someone at all, it gets annoying quickly.
Having to check notifications
When I see 150 new notifications on LinkedIn (or any social network) as much as I hate to admit it, it feels good. I end up checking my notifications in meetings, while out for dinner with my significant other and even in the car (dangerous).
“Most of what these notifications are telling me are unimportant but my dopamine addicted brain can’t resist. The need for validation that I am growing or becoming somebody is too great”
It’s for these four reasons that I recently severely limited by social media usage.
This may seem like the action of a crazy person given that I work in social media. I promise you it’s not. I can still have a career in social media or as a blogger without checking apps 100 times a day.
My time is now focused on something far more important:
Maximizing my time creating content that serves my purpose instead of consuming which is what the social media platforms want me to do (I never did like following rules).
Here are the benefits I got by drastically reducing my social media usage:
The recent test I took to measure my cortisol levels shows that I’m currently at 800 on the cortisol scale and the normal range is between 0-400.
I’ve been looking for any way I can to reduce stress. My experimentation with reducing social media has helped significantly.
“I find myself living in flight mode more often and enjoying right now”
One of the biggest flaws with the 24/7 social media model is the increase in stress if nothing else. The need for instant validation is making our stress levels soar. It’s time to fight back!
It’s made me more creative
I’m now being inspired more by things I witness in real life as opposed to the sometimes made-up, perfect world of social media. Creativity fuels our passions and even our businesses.
It takes empty space and free time to be creative. Social media was sucking up all my spare time after work and on the weekend. By consuming less, I had blocks of spare time to create.
That also gave me time to be inspired by books that fuel my imagination like Harry Potter (strangely enough).
I feel freer
Being tied to my phone and glued to social media is like having chains around my arms.
“It’s been nice to be free of advice, funny videos, opinions, politics and everything else that is like a fire hose in your face”
Meditation has been something I’ve sucked at for a long time. I find it hard to be present and observe the now. Part of the reason, I’ve discovered, is that I was thinking about what was happening on social media.
Having time away from social media has made being present easier for me. I’m thinking less about how many views I got on LinkedIn today and more about the meaning of life and the people I care about.
It’s not perfect though. I still spend time on social media (obviously) and so I have to balance the benefits, with the negatives like being less present.
All the way back to high school, my teachers told me “Tim, you’re easily distracted.”
Even on my report cards, it says it. My teachers put it down to my appreciation of the opposite sex (this is what they said!) but I disagree. I put it down to my need for human interaction which is what has made me love selling in the business world.
None the less, I am easily distracted - that’s a fact. Social media has forced me to check my notifications consistently. Since reducing my social media consumption, I’ve put into action a new strategy.
What I do now is turn off all notifications on my phone, computer, iPad and laptop. I only have SMS and phone call notifications turned on.
This setup allows me to time-box when I check my social media and only look at certain times of the day. By batching similar tasks like checking notifications together, I spend less time overall on social media.
Not only do I have my notifications for social media turned off, but I also do most of the commenting and responding to messages on my iMac. The screen of my phone is small and it makes the process longer, more stressful and it’s a burden on my eyes.
It’s increased my real-world interactions with people
By being less social without the need for social media and online communities, my hunger for connection has not disappeared. If anything, it’s increased.
The only way to get my fix is to attend a social catchup, hang out with workmates, have more meetings with clients and say hi to strangers.
This has improved my confidence, got me out of my comfort-zone and even helped me with my public speaking ability.
Social media doesn’t have to be a burden but until you learn to control it, it will wreak havoc on your life. Working in social media makes me a big advocate of the upside, but the downside is not so obvious.
I hope, through my own reduction in social media, you’ve got a new perspective – or at least a different view of social media.