Last summer I took a Facebook break after an online posting battle with someone, whom I love very much, left me rather ashamed of myself (not ashamed of my opinions and views, but for hashing them out in such a public forum). The break was a liberating experience, and I posted about it here and here. I learned a lot about myself from that break, and I decided that I would take another month-long break this summer. This time the break is less to learn about myself but more to focus on myself.
This break has been a lot easier than last summer. I didn’t have to “detox.” I haven’t logged in a single time to check on anything. I haven’t felt the need to unfriend anyone. None of that; it’s been a fairly low-key event. I did have a work friend ask me if I was mad at her when she discovered she couldn’t post anything to my wall – I had to laugh because there is nothing she could do that would anger me. It’s just a break. I’ll be back. How else will I keep in touch with my family and friends spread across the country? I hate talking on the phone!
I’ve once again missed numerous July birthdays and other important events. Lesson learned: I need to rely less on Facebook to inform me of important dates. Hm… maybe this is where a calendar would be useful? Novel idea.
I am taking a Mindfulness class this summer, and today our instructor sent us a really great article on using social media in a mindful manner. The article, written by Lori Deschene, is found here: Ten Mindful Ways to Use Social Media. I’ve reposted it below. Definitely some good tips in it.
10 Mindful Ways to Use Social Media by Lori Deschene
- Know your intentions.
Doug Firebaugh of SocialMediaBlogster.com has identified seven psychological needs we may be looking to meet when we log on: acknowledgment, attention, approval, appreciation, acclaim, assurance, and inclusion. Before you post, ask yourself: Am I looking to be seen or validated? Is there something more constructive I could do to meet that need?
- Be your authentic self.
In the age of personal branding, most of us have a persona we’d like to develop or maintain. Ego-driven tweets focus on an agenda; authenticity communicates from the heart. Talk about the things that really matter to you. If you need advice or support, ask for it. It’s easier to be present when you’re being true to yourself.
- If you propose to tweet, always ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Sometimes we post thoughts without considering how they might impact our entire audience. It’s easy to forget how many friends are reading. Two hundred people make a crowd in person, but online that number can seem insignificant. Before you share, ask yourself: is there anyone this might harm?
- Offer random tweets of kindness.
Every now and then I ask on Twitter, “Is there anything I can do to help or support you today?” It’s a simple way to use social media to give without expectations of anything in return. By reaching out to help a stranger, you create the possibility of connecting personally with followers you may have otherwise known only peripherally.
- Experience now, share later.
It’s common to snap a picture with your phone and upload it to Facebook or email it to a friend. This overlaps the experience of being in a moment and sharing it. It also minimizes intimacy, since your entire audience joins your date or gathering in real time. Just as we aim to reduce our internal monologues to be present, we can do the same with our digital narration.
- Be active, not reactive.
You may receive email updates whenever there is activity on one of your social media accounts, or you might have your cell phone set to give you these types of alerts. This forces you to decide many times throughout the day whether you want or need to respond. Another approach is to choose when to join the conversation, and to use your offline time to decide what value you have to offer.
- Respond with your full attention.
People often share links without actually reading them, or comment on posts after only scanning them. If the greatest gift we can give someone is our attention, then social media allows us to be endlessly generous. We may not be able to reply to everyone, but responding thoughtfully when we can makes a difference.
- Use mobile social media sparingly.
In 2009, Pew Research found that 43 percent of cell phone users access the Web on their devices several times a day. It’s what former Microsoft employee Linda Stone refers to as continuous partial attention—when you frequently sign on to be sure you don’t miss out anything. If you choose to limit your cell phone access, you may miss out online, but you won’t miss what’s in front of you.
- Practice letting go.
It may feel unkind to disregard certain updates or tweets, but we need downtime to be kind to ourselves. Give yourself permission to let yesterday’s stream go. This way you won’t need to “catch up” on updates that have passed but instead can be part of today’s conversation.
- Enjoy social media!
These are merely suggestions to feel present and purposeful when utilizing social media, but they aren’t hard-and-fast rules. Follow your own instincts and have fun with it. If you’re mindful when you’re disconnected from technology, you have all the tools you need to be mindful when you go online.