How do you tame the Social Media Monster?

Are you, like me, sometimes overwhelmed by the proliferation of social media and the expectation that we ALL participate — in everything?

The arguments are persuasive:

  • Writers need a platform, a following, to show agents they’re able to promote their manuscript
  • Businesses need to connect with potential buyers and generate “buzz” about their services or products
  • Nobody in the entire world can possibly connect with as many people in real life as is possible online

But all that connecting can be exhausting, especially for writers (who tend to be introverts anyway and often find it easier to hole up and just write).

And perhaps it’s lots worse on those writers who, like me, can’t write full time right now because they must work at a paying job. Or those with small children. Or aging parents. Or…whatever.

We can all find excuses for NOT connecting online. Yet the reality is, there are only 24 hours in a day and, if you listen to the “experts,” we need to be sleeping 8 of them. That leaves 16 hours. For those who work, subtract 8 more (or 10 if you have a long commute), bringing your total “free” time to 6 hours.

Six hours to do basic personal maintenance (like bathing), run errands (banking, grocery shopping), taxi the kids to and from lessons and sleepovers, kiss the spouse, walk the dog, cook meals, and clean the house.

That doesn’t include time for yourself — to read, soak in a spa, exercise, paint, take up piano, or write.

What’s the answer?

If you look at the history of social media, you’ll find that blogging started in 1997. Facebook debuted in February, 2004, Twitter in March, 2006, and Google Plus in June, 2011. More than 845 million people are on Facebook and at Twitter’s five-year mark, some 350 billion “tweets” are delivered each day. In addition, countless webinars are now available, on everything from how to make your small business successful to how to plot that story lurking in your head.

No wonder we feel deluged!

Some people address this problem by periodically scheduling a vacation from online activities. They fold up the laptop, turn off the i-pad and phone, and unplug from the busyness.

That’s a good idea. We all need to recharge occasionally.

Other people set a timer. When their hour (or however much time they’ve allotted) is up, that’s it. No looking back. No cheating.

Do our online friends miss us when we don’t show up? I’d like to think so because I miss them when they’re absent for a time. But, if we announce that we’re taking a sabbatical, at least we’re letting everyone know we’ll be out of touch.

My suggestion (and it’s more a “Memo” to me rather than something you need!): Remember why you started down the social media path in the first place. Enjoy your time connecting. But don’t feel you have to be connected 24/7!

How have you tamed the social media monster??

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21 thoughts on “How do you tame the Social Media Monster?

  1. I am connected 24/7 and hate to be out of the loop. I love everything about social media–Facebook-lots! Pinterest. Twitter. Google plus. My Reader. Linked In and more….How do I manage my time? Well i don’t sleep 8 hours and I work at home so Facebook is like my “office.” I don’t travel without my laptop and make sure where I am staying includes internet.
    Now the downside is I use all the above to avoid doing what I “should” be doing. I use to pull tape off the fridge–now I twitter or wrap myself up in inane Facebook discussions. I am so glad Facebook did not exist when I was a kid.
    Sure I miss you and other’s when you don’t show up and I have even know to worry a bit about “regulars” but i would never want anyone to feel pressure to meet my social media expectations. Life-real life must always take priority over a virtual one–IMO. On the rare occasions when my lap is requested by my 15 year old, believe me, the lap top gets dumped.
    I am not a good example of taming but I do try to keep in touch with what is important too me..I have a list on my I-Phone :-)

    • Katybeth, you’re more “plugged in” than I can be, even with my son off at college! I’ve got a small business to run and an aging mom to chauffeur around, not to mention a novel to write, reading to do, and jewelry demanding to be created! I find it difficult to stare at a screen all day long, too. Nevertheless, you prove it can be done — I just need to get my ducks properly lined up. Maybe the Sheltie can help herd them, ha!

  2. Debbie, here are my half-assed rules:
    * I try to stay in touch with the peeps that are most important to me, like you and Kathy and a couple of other bloggers. But other than that, I’m gonna miss a bunch of blogs and that’s okay.
    * It’s okay to have a jones for social media, as long as it doesn’t detract from other more important things, like interacting with family at mealtime. Or actually writing your novel. I’m pretty good at the first, not so good at the second..
    * you can’t do everything. Give up. Pick the most enjoyable 2 or 3 networkds and do those the most often. For me, Facebook wins every time. Then Twitter.
    * Pay attention: sometimes social netting is like eating a bag of potato chips. It’s easier to eat the whole bag than to get up off the couch, put the bag away, go brush your teeth, and start vacuuming or dusting or something. Go for a walk. Force yourself to be aware of the mindless moments, and nip those.
    * Lastly, make time to read something offline. Read it slowly and carefully, so you remember how. Otherwise you’ll get Internett ADD. Which I have.
    Cheers!
    Lynne

    • Good suggestions, Lynne. I especially like your analogy about the bag of potato chips! I think we writers tend to be masters at procrastination. Some drag their heels at starting a new project, others lag somewhere in the middle, still others as the story starts to wind down. It’s hard keeping your butt in the chair, without dashing off to check Facebook or blogs or play an online game!

  3. I’ve sort of chosen one online activity to which I’m dedicated – blogging. I won’t deny I have accounts on a lot of those other things. But I really don’t use them. As you pointed out so well, there are just not enough hours in the day to do it all.

    • Thanks, Terri, I’m of the same persuasion! I’d like to be able to do it all, but one just can’t. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one unable to stretch 24 hours!

  4. I don’t do Twitter or Facebook, so I guess I’m avoiding the social media monster instead of taming it. The problem with me is, when I do something, I want to do it the best I can – I can’t half-do something. If I got started on Facebook or Twitter, I’d spend so much time trying to do it ‘right’ that I wouldn’t get anything else done. The blog is bad enough :)

    I think that many bloggers get burned out and then they disappear after a while. That’s too bad, because there are a few that I wonder what ever happened to them. It reminds me of the runners that get off to a jackrabbit start, but by the end of the race, they are trailing the pack. Just so I don’t leave you with the impression that I am a runner, I should clarify that I witnessed this at some of my son’s races. For me, running is a spectator sport :)

    • Yeah, Janna — me, too! Everybody keeps telling me I’ve GOT to do Twitter and Facebook, but I don’t want to spread myself too thin. I enjoy my blogging buddies — posting and commenting — and I know I don’t have enough time to add Twitter and Facebook (and still have a life!). You’re not a runner?? Aw, c’mon, you seem more like a marathoner to me!

  5. Debbie, THANK YOU, thank you for writing this. You must have been spying on me. This is my life. I can’t do it all! Social media has indeed taken over my life. Add to that, the latest in the field, Pinterest. Everyone’s jumping on that train, and I’m feeling, once again, left behind and the pressure to join or perish. Yet another account. Sheesh. I am one of those you describe, with a full time job, with a one hour round trip commute, with needs to eat dinner, pay bills, etc, before I can sit and blog, tweet, facebook, etc. I can’t take it! I’m tweeting this right now!

    • I’m thrilled to know I’m not the only one, Monica — though I totally empathize with your plight. I’m not one for glossing the surface; if I’m going to do something, I tend to go “whole hog”! Knowing I barely have time for blogging right now, I know I’d never have time to add more socializing. It’s too bad we’re made to feel inadequate for not hopping on every train that rolls through the station!

  6. ~~Debbie,
    Great Post.
    I have a feeling that blogging, facebook, twitter, google + and all the other superb social media avenues have become a massive outlet for the universe to release & let go…..

    Okay, let me put it this way: I’d bet the therapists have lost a bit of business!!!

    Xx

    • I never thought about the therapists, Kim, but you’ve made a great point! I fear too many people just let go of whatever flits through their mind, whenever it flits through. Maybe that’s good for them, but it certainly adds to the “noise”! It’s nice that we have a choice with social media, but I think it should remain a CHOICE, rather than a demand!

  7. Debbie, I wish I had the discipline to set a timer and disconnect when it goes off. The truth is that with the sharing situation I have going on with the Son, I’m scrambling to take advantage of the little time I have. I’ve even taken to going to bed in the wee hours of the morning and this has resulted in a bout of insomnia I can’t kick. I’m afraid I’ve inverted my time schedule and now my brain can’t unplug. When you blog, you’re under the pressure to post regularly, reply to your comments, visit the blogs of your readers, comment and by this time, this endeavor has turned into a full-time job. Most of the time, I love it, but lately I’m feeling so tired, I feel like a break is in order. I think we need to pace ourselves and stick to the plan! Great post, lady! :)

    • Thank you, Bella. I, too, have been feeling the pressure. Sometimes, it’s like I’m on a treadmill, and some idiot keeps cranking the thing faster and faster! Pacing is a good idea. I must confess I haven’t tried setting a timer yet (maybe that would work; maybe not!); I have noticed a renewed energy and enthusiasm if I take a day or more off, though! I’m sorry you’re still having to share — I can only imagine how hard that is (and how rough on your sleep cycle).

  8. Debbie,
    This is such an important post! I was the one three years ago who said” no way “to social media. Now I’m feeling tethered and wired and in need of a rescue plan to balance it all. Like Lynne, I stay in contact with select people and let others go. There is so much out there and it’s good but there is no way I can stay in touch with everything and everybody.I’m not where I want to be but I’m trying. Here’s a companion post by Copyblogger on Dealing with Social Medai Hangover http://www.copyblogger.com/social-media-hangover/..advising to “take a break to reignite your creative spark-unplug and recharge.” Amen! One thing I am doing getting some exercise,even if just a brief walk outside daily. A sedentary life style (writer’s life) has the same health risks as smoking.
    Thanks for a great post and discussion ,Debbie :-)

    • Thanks, Kathy, for this interesting take on social media burn-out. You’re so right about inactivity being just as bad for a person as smoking. Yet in today’s world, we are so plugged in that it’s hard to break away. It requires real self-discipline to unplug periodically and do something nice for ourselves! I appreciate your adding to the discussion!

  9. Funny, I’m working on a master’s degree that’s pretty much all about social media, and I just started a blog about raising a child who’s so totally engaged in technology. I’m trying to teach him some boundaries for screen time, but he’d be at it 24/7 if I would let him! It is all about balance! Wonderful blog … glad I found it!

    • Hi Laura and Welcome! Yes, kids start young with technology; mine is in college now, but he’s always had an affinity toward techie-toys. You’re right — balance is key. Nice to meet you; now I’m off to poke through your blog a bit!

        • As fast as technology is changing, Laura, it’s no wonder we got sent to the wrong blog! I admire what you’re trying to do, balancing giving your son the benefits of technology without stifling his innate curiosity. It’s a fine line we parents must walk!

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