Here you are again, reading another blog, settling in for a few seconds to see if what I'm writing is worthy of taking a few more moments to read. It is so easy to tune into the LinkedIn/Facebook/YouTube/Tumblr/Twitter/MySpace/ADDYOURSHERE websphere, and lose hours of your life and time off the clock. Portions of your brain are expanding from the deluge of data that few human beings can maintain or manage. It's become the junkies needle for millions of us, addicted to the flickering lines of information, responses, track backs, status updates, and tumbling text messages. We are now "Friends" with people we barely know, our personal "network" spans the globe, and our conversations are read and shared by people we may never meet. The whole enterprise of social media is a morass at worst, and a remarkable tool to extend the reach of ideas at it's best.
But there is something of our personal vitality that can get sucked into the vacuum of status updates and mindless jujube. While we can undoubtedly gain from the connections and conversations we create in our on-line interactions, it is equally possible to form a kind of false sense of connection and engagement with others. As piquant as many of these web portals can be, they are essentially a flatland, full of clutter and often so chaotic as to be useless. Try as we might to keep a keen focus, every thing in the social media web-sphere seems to call our attention, and what we don't want to notice sometimes inflicts itself upon our eyes and we are, once again, pulled into the digital undertow.It seems to me we must strike a rational balance in our approach to being social.
First, we have to become aware of the time we spend on these things, for many of us it has become an issue. One idea to acknowledge the value of your time, is to literally give your time, your hours, a specific dollar value, to figure out what you believe your time is worth. Now, start tracking it...all of it. You have 168 hours to measure. There are several apps you can get that will actually track your time, along with the dollar value of whatever time you spent on a specific project. It doesn't take long to figure out that many of us invest more time in social media, and Facebooking, then we get in return. Some of us DO make a ton of money on our web stuff, but for most, it's a black hole of resource and distraction. Is that what you want? If so, then click away. If it's not, seek to balance it by tracking time away from it.
Natural energy is stunted by lack of personal influence and body connections. Reading an update or Twitter, regardless of content, doesn't offer us the important visual cues, the physical posturing and emotional context that can only arrive when we are with another person or group. We crave presence, and being within arms reach of another fills our senses with information unavailable to us in any other form.
It is important, it seems to me, that we design a balanced approach to social media and friendships. We can, on the one hand, expand our reach using the remarkable tools of technology. On the other, we can balance our resources of energy by scheduling time away from the blips and blops, to spend more time in the presence of others.
- Have a bias towards being with others. Take time to hang out, inefficient as it may seem.
- Schedule your online time. See Social Media as resource, and preserve time away from it as a strategy for balance.
- Clear your cache. Occasionally, clear out the clutter and start over. Toss out the flotsam, and embrace white space whenever possible.
- Start billing your hours to fictiscious companies for your time spent social surfing, and notice how many hours you've burned up and the money and productivity that is forever lost in the clutter of social media.
If dinging around with social media brings you great joy, then by all means continue to enjoy it. After all, if it weren't fun, we'd not do it anyway. But if what you seek is greater connection and productivity, taking some time to figure out and line up your priorities just might leave you with a path to make more of contribution, more money and success, as well as more time to surf when the tide is just right.