“I spent 100 days without Facebook and have not turned back.“
700 billion minutes.
That is how much time Facebook’s 500 million active users spend on the site every month. 7 years ago Facebook didn’t even exist! What did we use to do with all that time??
A recent study of media habits found that 33% of people surveyed admitted to checking Facebook before they even went to the bathroom in the morning; 21% admitted to checking it in the middle of the night; and half of them considered themselves Facebook addicts. Clearly something about Facebook has captivated us and drawn us in. Myself included in the past.
Me personally? I love social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. They have all helped me build a platform, and stay in touch with friends in remarkable ways. But even as I type this I have a sinking feeling of being overwhelmed if I go back to Facebook.
And I’m beginning to feel like maybe, just maybe, all of my devices, my gadgets, my apps, my social media, own me as much as I own them. As they constantly beep, buzz and vibrate around me, screaming for my attention, I’m starting to wonder whether all this was a good idea in first place.
Now please don’t get me wrong – social media and technology are good things. But, like most good things, they can become bad things.
How we use social media will determine which one it will be in our lives. Here are a few tips that I learnt that can guide you along the way:
1) Own Up
Just like I did. No one likes to admit they’re addicted to something, (my current DragonVale iPhone App addiction) but if you want to get on top of your habits, you’ve got to own up.
Ask your friends/partner/children/parents, “Am I using my iPhone too much? Am I on Facebook too much?” Even if their answer is subjective, it is still helpful. Chances are if your partner says you are using Facebook too much, you probably are.
Of course there is no right answer to “How much is too much?”, but a really good exercise is to record how much time you spend on Facebook in a given week. We generally tend to underestimate, and a good look at the raw data may be shocking and revealing. It sure shocked me! Hence the Facebook ban!
2) Set Boundaries
I am convinced that in our information overloaded culture, discipline is becoming more and more key. Establishing clear boundaries, while tough to do at first, creates freedom and space in our lives (much-needed space). If we are always just reacting to our devices, compulsively checking email or scrolling through News Feeds, then it’s too easy for technology to get a the better of us and suffocate us.
Some ideas may be to have designated times for going online, or perhaps a “tech-free hour” where when you arrive home you switch your phone off. Have this time for other activities such as reading, sports, spending time with your family.
The point is find ways of putting boundaries on your social media that work for you/your family – and force yourself to live within those boundaries.
I have begun to set my phone to silent 95% of the time. This helps when I do not wish to talk to people and I don’t begin to feel obligated to answer or reply when my phone begins to beeps and ring. I can ignore the phone call or SMS unknowingly (sometimes knowingly) and just enjoy the space and focus it gives me to the rest of the world.
3) Enjoy It
Having owned up, and established clear boundaries, you are then free to just enjoy the wonders of the Internet! As I said, social media can be a wonderful thing. But we enjoy it most, when we enjoy it best. I now enjoy my once a day look my Facebook New Feed, walking to and from work reading twitter and only checking emails on my iPhone when I manually request them to appear. Sometimes I day dream about the days of the old school yard and looking forward to coming home and reading a e-mail from my scouting friends from around the world.
Mars on Life.