I’ve been composing this blog in my head for the past month. What’s incredible is that every day, what I want to say evolves because have new experiences with social media regularly. And that is the point here – indulging in social media is a way to continuously grow and expand how you experience the world, your knowledge of it and your connections with other people. But, on the flipside, there is convincing data on the dark side of too much social media consumption, which must be considered, so I do advise that you “pump your brakes” and avoid overuse.
So, for “why I do social media and you should too, part three” – April, 2017, here are three points to consider:
- Yes, there are cautionary studies that should be heeded. Without question, overuse leads to isolation.
- Social media platforms serve different purposes and are very manageable depending on your goals. The “politics-free-zone” I’m in right now has me gravitating towards Instagram.
- Being socially nimble is an important skill today, because sometimes you need it to discover, uncover and explore things that keep you safe in today’s pervasively online society.
Now, for the details…
- The cautionary tales get stronger, supported by more evidence. Here are the three strongest of my recent reads, all making valid points warning against overuse of social media:
“The near-universal access to digital technology, starting at ever younger ages, is transforming modern society in ways that can have negative effects on physical and mental health, neurological development and personal relationships, not to mention safety on our roads and sidewalks.” – “Hooked On Our Smartphones, New York Times, January, 2017.
“Device – free time is the new work-life balance…Today, when so much work and leisure time involve staring at screens, I see a different struggle arising: a struggle to find a healthy balance between technology and the physical world, or, for short, “tech/body balance.” A 2016 survey from Deloitte found that Americans collectively check their phones 8 billion times per day. The average for individual Americans was 46 checks per day, including during leisure time—watching TV, spending time with friends, eating dinner.” – “Device Free Time Is As Important As Work-Life Balance”, Harvard Business Review, April, 2017
“The more you use Facebook, the worse you feel…Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.” – “The More You Use Facebook, The Worse You Feel”, Harvard Business Review, April 2017
Got it. Be careful to avoid overuse and ‘note to self”> watch for same in Brandon. Check.
- Over time, my social media platform preferences evolve. Right now, my favorites are Instagram and Pinterest. They serve my need for escapist fare that is “politics-free”. Here are my current thoughts on the major social media platforms, which I hope you find instructive. Think through what YOUR goals are online and choose based on that, as I have:
a.) Instagram is the new Facebook, where people go to share their “first-person” personal experiences – with people, places and things. You’ll see vacations, gallery visits, sunrises, sunsets, pets, and sports. There’s no reposting of crappy “old man dancing” videos, “1000-calorie recipes” – all the uninteresting content that is cluttering Facebook now. And it’s nearly politics-free. I never see posts by or about about that “man who shall not be named” who is president in my Instagram feed.
b.) Pinterest is the place I go to dream. I’m renovating at home, buying clothes, changing my hair – and Pinterest allows me to take virtual strolls through shops, closets and attics of others intensely involved in the same topics. It’s great also for (examples) inspiring quotes, for fun Beatle pictures, for jazz photos in black and white, pictures of snowstorms – whatever you daydreams are about that day. It’s very visual, very light fare. No politics.
c.) Facebook has become less and less interesting to me. My use of it has sharply diminished. It’s been overrun by ads, by political news, by re-posts of bad videos of people doing absurd things. It’s rarely the breath of fresh air that it used to be. It IS a good place to share photo albums of trips and activities between friends and family because everyone is generally on Facebook. It’s also a good place to learn about upcoming entertainment events, such as (example) the Coltrane jazz documentary that opened last week in NY. The “memories” feature is really nice if you have a rich history of posts over the years, especially if you have kids who are growing up too fast! In my opinion it suffers from having become too mainstream, with too many personal rants and too much political news.
d.) Twitter has devolved into a total waste of time for personal use, with two exceptions. I use it for two reasons – to connect with people watching other live events, such as the NBA Finals, where you can get real-time, clever, insightful cynical commentary that adds a dimension to watching the games. It is still a good place to find out what’s trending, often the first signal that there’s been a terrorist attack, shooting or other crisis (like I really need to know about more of those.) There is still la business case for Twitter as a platform for businesses to reach customers and prospects, but I think that is diminishing. I don’t have the data to support that statement.
e.) Linked In is a place I check into daily for business updates posted by companies and my professional contacts and to learn about friends with new jobs. It’s also a good place to post articles you have written to build your reputation as a thought leader in your chosen field. There is still a strong business case for Linked In as a platform for businesses to reach customers and prospects, because even the most socially unengaged business person usually has a Linked In profile and can be reached via “social selling.”
e.) Snapchat is a platform that I’ve tried but simply cannot find a personal use case for. Cute pictures with dog ears and slurpy tongues – yep. I get it, but how many times can I do that? I continue to dabble and will say more about it in a future blog.
- Being socially nimble is an important skill today, because sometimes you need it to discover, uncover and explore things that keep you safe in today’s pervasively online society. I’ve had a recent experience online where my ability to untangle a potential scam was aided by my ability to navigate different platforms, especially Instagram. For example, when you’re participating in online dating, it’s a first step in learning who someone is, how they live and how they’re connected to you. Important stuff! More about this in my next blog.
So, to wrap up:
- Back off social media use if you notice it’s taking on an addictive quality;
- Be strategic about which platform you use for what purpose – they are not created equal, and vary widely in their relevancy to you depending on your goals
- Be smart about social media and how to navigate your way through it as a safety measure. It has become a necessity because it helps you protect yourself if you are interacting with others who may be new to you.
Social media IS our virtual water cooler. I’ll see you there, exchanging life experiences with you in a healthy, positive way. Deal?