One of my New Years resolutions was to be more active on social media, while cutting out some of my Facebook time. I’ve been slowly weening myself off of Facebook, starting last year. I wasn’t connecting with anyone in a very genuine way and I wasn’t contributing to any kind of important, social dialog. When I decided to get a smart phone I realized I spent a lot of time on FB, but I hadn’t become more engaged. Here’s how I’ve been getting more engaged while fixing bad tech habits:
1) I banned my computer from my bedroom. It sounds crazy, but it works. Not sharing a bed with my laptop has been extremely helpful in the last 6 months. I read more books and I rest when I need to rest. I’m more productive when I need to be.
2) Unfollow your friends who do nothing but post about their meals, rant, and generously share play-by-plays of their day. While it is important to maintain personal relationships with social media, I find this kind of information less than stimulating, sometimes irritating, and useless. I’m trying to stick to real conversations and check-ins with friends. I’ve started following more organizations and people who are doing interesting things with their careers (especially my creative and library friends). It’s inspiring, and on the days that I can contribute to that conversation, I feel good about it.
3) Shut your phone/all devices off at night. For that matter, don’t bother looking at them first thing in the morning, either. I just came across this HuffPost article about checking your email in the morning, which I have noticed can serve as a bigger distraction than anything else.
So, how do you wake up? I have turned back to a regular alarm clock. NPR wakes me up and tells me the weather for the day; it’s been refreshing to ignore my devices until I’ve at least showered.
4) I’ve recently been working on the social media guide for the library I work at, which has also helped me think about my actual presence on social media. Creating content is something that many people have gotten away from with the ability to simply “share” others’ content (articles, status, happenings), but having your own voice is important if you’re going to feel engaged at all in what’s happening on social media. If you share something, add some commentary. Why are you sharing what you’re sharing? Put a little of yourself out there (not all of it, nobody needs to see those photos). I have to remind myself of this at times.
5) One habit that I’ve always maintained is to never, ever allow “push notifications” from the platforms I use for social media. I’ve been in the room when someone’s phone is beeping/buzzing/flashing constantly because their friends are updating their twitter. There’s nothing more distracting from the present and in this way, you’re never “off”.
In the end, limiting my time on my devices has been helpful. Using social media is more enjoyable when it is more intentional.