A Social Media Dare For The New Year

I need a change and I’m guessing you do too.

The internet is making us irritated and depressed. For some of us, it’s causing more stress in our relationships than it’s adding value. For a while, I’ve known I wanted to make a change. A couple things happened recently to confirm that this is the time.

First of all, my friends are feeling it too. It’s not just me. I see lots of posts from friends who say they are sick of FB. They want to take a break.

Secondly, that Simon Sinek video. Y’all. You need to take 15 minutes and watch it. Then come back and you’ll see why I’m making some of the rules I’m making for myself. I don’t want to be the person in the room that isn’t fully present. I don’t want to be the person who is always letting herself be interrupted by Facebook notifications.

 

Finally, I watched a video by Brian Dixon regarding some Chrome extensions he uses to enhance his productivity. I realized, as my husband said, “There is technology that can help save us from technology!”

So, what’s a person to do?

Social media is here to stay whether we like it or not, but I have some good news for you! You are the boss of what you look at online. You are the boss of the voices that get to take up space in your newsfeed. You are the boss of how much time you spend on Facebook. Can I get an “amen”?

Here are some things I’m trying and I wanted to share them with you because I think they can help you, too.

1. Make “Office Hours” for FB/Twitter/Instagram (whichever sites are the worst offenders for you).

For instance, instead of checking in all the time, decide when you plan to check in. Set a timer for a certain amount of time and then shut it down. You’re going to need a timer. Trust me.

This afternoon, I decided what times were off-limits and what times were okay. That Chrome extension I mentioned earlier that Brian Dixon suggested? If you go to this site: and search under the productivity category, you can find a whole bunch of free extensions you can install on your desktop. The one he uses is Block Site. You install it and then you customize it. It gives the option to enter sites that you want to block and then you can choose to block them during certain times of the day. You can also set it up so that when you try to go to the site, it redirects to another site of your choosing. I set up mine to redirect to the verse of the day at bible.com.

2. Make a list of times when you just plain will not check social media.

My list of off-limits times is this: when I’m with friends, when we’re having family time, while we’re having meals together and while we’re at church. It doesn’t matter what my “hours” are regularly, during these times, I won’t be online.

3. Charge your phone and/or tablet some place out of arm’s reach of your bed.

When it’s time for bed, your devices will be happily charging. When you first get up in the morning you don’t want the tone of your day set by what happens to be posted in the newsfeed of Twitter or FB.

4. Subscribe to blogs you don’t want to miss.

Most blogs have a way to subscribe either through signing up for an email newsletter or an RSS feed. If you do this, you won’t have to rely on FB or Twitter reminders when someone publishes a new post. All of it goes directly to your email or your RSS thingy and it’s waiting for you when you have time for it. Magic. See? Technology saving us from technology. It’s a beautiful thing.

5. Curate your friends list.

I don’t mean you should unfriend people. There’s an easier and less permanent solution than that. Go through your FB friends list. If someone on your list is regularly posting content that makes you angry, depressed or just generally takes more out of you emotionally than they add, choose to hide them from your newsfeed. This can be a temporary thing or a permanent thing. You can always change it later and you can still go directly to their page if you want to see what they are saying. And don’t do it with a big announcement because that’s the sort of thing that makes us all angsty and irritable with social media 🙂

On the positive side, for the times you are on social media, make it a point to specifically look for the people and groups you most want to hear from. Your friends. The authors and speakers you follow. If you’ve hidden the negative stuff, finding the things that encourage you should be easy.

6. Put a delay on posting when you’re upset.

I’ve posted stupid things because hormones got the better of me. I never regret NOT posting something. I have regretted spouting off in the middle of being angry, offended, hurt. . .  Next time, just wait a bit. My new rule for myself is that my primary use of social media will be to share things that are fun, encouraging, hopeful, thoughtful, or interesting. If it doesn’t fit those categories, I probably don’t need to post it. If I do, it should be rare. At least, that’s the way I envision it right now.

7. Turn off notification alerts from social media.

You don’t need your computer, tablet or phone to “bing” every time someone says something online. A notification is an invitation to a conversation that you can turn down. In fact, you don’t even need to know the conversation is happening because it probably doesn’t have anything to do with you. Now that you’ve set “hours” you don’t need notifications. Turn the sound off for FB notifications.

8. Tell your people to reach you by texting to your cell number.

The people who really need to reach you in the case of an emergency don’t need Facebook for that. They have your cell number and your email address. Let them know that you won’t be online as much, but that you are still available to them. They will understand. Most likely, they’ll think you’re brilliant and wish they could do the same.

What do you think? We can do this, right? I can’t imagine regretting implementing these things. I may have to make some adjustments to how it works so that it serves it’s purpose, but the time for a change is here. There’s no denying it. I dare you. I dare you to make some specific boundaries for your time spent online and see what kind of results you get.

Can we try this for a week and see what happens? I’m game! See you online (at very specific times and less often… ha-ha). Let’s meet back here in a week and share our results.

P.S. I started implementing this today and I’m feeling a mixture of relief and withdrawal symptoms.

3 thoughts on “A Social Media Dare For The New Year

  1. I was without my phone for several months a few years ago, used a “throw away” phone without bells and whistles (plus I didn’t want to pay the extra for data) and didn’t have FB on it. I eventually got my iphone back but in the interim my social media had grown so much I chose NOT to update FB on the phone and deleted it altogether. my phone is for personal, real-live interaction with people I actually know!

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