I recently read True Story: I Went Two Weeks Without Social Media, by Ashe (@Oh_Ashe) and it really got me thinking.
In the past I’ve done mini social media detoxes, but mostly because I’ve gotten my knickers in a twist over some controversial subject and I needed to take a break. Those breaks never lasted more than four, maybe eight hours. Then I’m back to checking my sites, even if I’m not participating in them. Uh, doesn’t a detox usually at last at least a few days?
Social Media: Weapons of Mass Distraction
Having just returned from a fantastic anniversary trip to Charleston, South Carolina, Ashe’s post was especially timely for me; I photographed, Instagrammed, and Facebooked virtually every hour of the trip, much to my husband’s dismay. I swear I wasn’t trying to get on his nerves, though I most definitely did. Actually, I’m surprised he didn’t crack sooner, but then he IS married to me and why would the incessant cataloging of everything change just because we were on holiday?
I was just! so! excited! about being in one of my favorite cities on a gorgeous weekend, eating amazing food with my lovely hubby. I was physically unable to not photograph every meal we had out, or geo-tag my ’grams, since I only geo-tag when I travel.
I couldn’t. Put. My. Damn. Phone. Down. It became obvious even to me. Oy vey.
After reading Ashe’s post, it occurred to me that a two-week detox, while admirable (go, Ashe!), is not what the doctor would order for me. After two weeks I’d just jump back in like a crazed addict, reveling in the likes and tweets and real-time news. I’d be right back at the dinner table with my iPhone in hand.
I realized that I need a social media intervention, plus a plan for being a consumer of social media, and not let it consume me. Since it’s a new year, I want to make the dinner table a sacred place. Get back to the basics that make us feel so good: food, family, conversation; lingering over dinner; laughter and love.
These tips are really for me, but I suspect I’m not the only one who could probably use them.
Tips for Balancing Social Media and Your Life
1. No tech at the table.
No phones, tablets, computers, TVs, or MP3 players allowed, under any circumstances, in the dining room or wherever you eat your meals. I wish more parents would do this in restaurants. It breaks my heart when I see kids with their iPads at the table, completely zoned out and unable to sit in a restaurant for A WHOLE HOUR without a distraction.
From age two, I was exposed to dining out and never once in my childhood did I throw a tantrum that interrupted a meal in a restaurant. My parents taught me about table manners and the importance of family meals from birth, and I knew that acting up would equal a spanking, so I just didn’t do it. And look at the foodie I turned out to be! Maybe that’s my next career.
2. Leave your phone in the car on date night.
I’m seriously committed to doing this. My obsessive Instagramming of meals (OK, the downside of being a foodie) has perturbed my very patient husband more than once. When he calls me on it, I get defensive, but he’s right. It’s rude to your companion and really, let’s face it, looks bad in a classy restaurant. We’ll ALL live without one more shot of a meal or a martini. Unless it’s a special occasion, there is no need to take photos while you’re in a restaurant.
As American Hipster and The Key of Awesome said last year, Eat It Don’t Tweet It!
(Must watch ↓. Hysterical.)
3. Ban social media one day a week. Social Media-Free Sunday, anyone?
I think Sunday—which even God took off—is a good day to prohibit social media use if you’re having a problem balancing it and your life. No blogging, commenting, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or the like for 24 hours. Why not spend Sundays focused on your loved ones, reading a good old-fashioned book, trying a new recipe, taking a long walk, or all of the above?
4. Put your phone face down in meetings at work, or when going to bed.
One thing I love about my iPhone is that I don’t have to make space for an ugly alarm clock on my nightstand anymore. I also quit wearing a watch since I always have my phone. But when my phone is face-up and I see an alert pop up on the screen, some weird thing happens where I am compelled to check it and clear it as soon as possible! I can’t take seeing those little red circles with numbers in them on my apps; they make me feel like my to-do list is never checked off.
So turn the phone over. That way your boss won’t give you the stink eye in meetings, and when it’s on your nightstand, the light from an alert doesn’t wake you up.
5. Dining with social media-savvy friends or blogging buds? Try this:
6. Don’t “out” your non-blog, non-Facebook, non-Instagram using family member.
And yes, that person exists—I’m married to him. And he gets very testy when a photo, video, or quip about him is shared without his prior approval, even if it’s only with my very small group of Facebook friends. I don’t blame him. He’s chosen not to participate in social media for a reason, and I have to respect that. So I just ask for permission and sometimes he gives it, and when he doesn’t, I don’t force it or take it personally.
Do you need a social media intervention? Or do you have tips for balancing life and social media?