“I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I took the weekend off LinkedIn.”
I’ve received two messages along these lines lately. Why the apology, I wonder?
What’s behind the pressure to be on social media all the time?
Who expects us to respond (almost) instantly on social media? Is it us? Is it other people?
Why do we feel the pressure to constantly be on and connected? What difference will it make if the person responds a few days later?
As a coach who has shifted her business online, some might say I’m ridiculous for even questioning the need to be connected all the time and perhaps committing online business suicide, or at least seriously damaging my coaching practice, by not following the “rules” and staying hyper-connected.
Surely succeeding in the online business world means showing up on social media with valuable content, engaging with other people’s posts and connecting and building relationships, day in and day out.
But how does it actually affect us, physically and mentally, if we never take time off social media? What’s the cost of always plotting our next post and taking selfies and photos for that next perfect, attention-grabbing image we’re going to share?
Social media began as a way to connect with friends and family and share precious or random everyday moments, or create and bring communities with common interests together.
For me, in the years before I started my coaching practice, Facebook was a fabulous way of sharing life events with my family and friends who lived abroad. LinkedIn was a great platform to keep in touch with current and past colleagues and other business contacts that I had met at events.
But over the last three years since I set up my own business, the way I use social media has drastically changed and continues to evolve.
Chatting with a fellow entrepreneur the other day, I was shocked when she told me she posted on LinkedIn Every. Single. Day. – Monday through to Sunday. While I understand the more you post, the more engagement you get on your posts, and the more you comment on other people’s posts and message and check people’s profiles, the more the LinkedIn algorithm will like you and promote your posts to more people…
Who rules – people or technology?
Are we becoming slaves to technology? Technology is supposed to be breaking down the geographical barriers and allowing us to connect with people all over the world… and yet, it seems like we’re becoming imprisoned in social media’s algorithm cage. And many people are paying the price.
With alarming frequency, I see posts from connections saying that they’ve burnt out or are experiencing forms of depression as a result of social media usage, and are forced to take time off it. One of those people was even a social media manager.
My rollercoaster relationship with social media
I’ve had my own love/hate relationship with social media. On the one hand, it opens doors for business. It feeds my insatiable hunger to learn more and hone my entrepreneurial skills. On the other hand, it’s annoyed me and made me wish I had used my time differently.
On a dark, cold January night, I got home from an event about 9pm. My husband was still out. Sat on the toilet, I pulled out my iPhone and started devouring posts in a private, paid membership community. 45 minutes later, I was still sitting there on the toilet! Cold. And mad at myself that instead of preparing for bed and doing something relaxing, I was reading and reading…
I stopped and asked myself:
Why am I doing this, especially when I know better? What do I get from gorging on my social media?
Since starting my coaching practice, I’ve mostly been using Facebook for work. I’m part of paid membership groups through my mentors, coaches and training courses. So I wasn’t spending my time on Facebook checking out the photos of my friends who live in other countries and seeing what they’re up to.
I was reading posts in these groups. I was hungry for information. What did I not know that I had to in order to move my business forward? But eventually, I realised that filling my head with so much information, when there is a limit to how much I can implement, as well as reading late into the night, was having a seriously detrimental impact on me.
I noticed how reading about others’ apparent successes caused the toxic comparisonitis to kick in. Nothing new there… it’s one of the main reasons people suffer from depression through spending time on social media.
It was time for drastic action
So, I had to change things. I focused on me. I reduced my sources of information. I unfollowed people, left or unfollowed groups. I unsubscribed from various related emails.
I decided that since I’m using the application for work, then I should do this during working hours and not when I’m supposed to be winding down. After all, I know all too well the effects of staring at screens before going to bed.
So that was it, I pressed on the Facebook icon on my phone until all the icons started flashing and the little crosses appeared. I clicked on the cross of the Facebook app and the message said:
Delete Facebook? Deleting this app will also delete its data.
I confirmed my choice – ‘Delete’.
I felt a sense of relief and even some form of pride.
What difference has it made?
Since deleting Facebook and subsequently LinkedIn from my phone, I no longer have the temptation to just quickly check if there’s something I need to know about or respond to, and end up half an hour or more sucked into my social media feed.
Overall, I’m using my time more productively and I’m not wasting my energy unnecessarily on Facebook or LinkedIn.
In the mornings, I’m quicker to my desk to start work. I don’t end up missing my exercise, because I’ve got inspired and decided to post something on social media and then, before I know it, I’ve got dragged into my feed.
During the day, when I am on social media, I’m there with more purpose and focus. I’m more effective because, let’s face it, we all type quicker and more accurately on a computer than on a tiny smartphone’s keyboard. Plus, it saves me the embarrassment of an accidental autocorrect!
Not having those apps on my phone also helps me be more present with my loved ones since I’m less inclined to aimlessly check my phone and phub my friends and family.
By reducing my late night information intake, not only do I feel calmer but I also get ready for bed quicker so, as a result, I sleep better at night and have more energy the following day.
Over to you…
If you’re feeling constantly pulled to be checking your social media feeds or you’re bombarded by notifications from your social media – ask yourself:
- What do I get from this?
- What will I miss out on if I don’t get those notifications popping up on my phone/computer?
- What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t respond right away?
If you want to reduce the overwhelm of social media and create more time and energy for what matters to you most, then grab your FREE copy of – ‘10 Proven Ways to Successful Life Balance’.
Photo Credit: Pixelkult - Pixabay